Shou Sugi Ban 101

fujimori-terunobu-charred-cedar-lighting-portraitSteps to Create Your Own Shou Sugi Ban:

Adapted from the architectural work of Terunobu Fuji­mori (pictured) who practices the traditional technique and lives on the Japanese island of Naoshima. Please take all the necessary safety precautions when working with wood and fire! All of this is best done outside in a wind protected area.
Wood boards
Propane Torch – handheld or flame thrower style
fujimori-terunobu-charred-cedar-coaxing-portraitLong Handled Brush
Natural wood or mineral oil, if desired, like Penofin
Step 1:
Traditionally shou sugi ban requires that three Japanese cedar boards are bound to form a long triangle and a fire is started within the resulting tunnel to char the wood (as pictured). However today an alternative is to use a brick oven with gas burners to accommodate two six-foot-long wood boards at a time. However, if a brick oven is unavailable, one can also use a basic hand held propane torch/flame thrower device to individually burn each board, depending on quantity.
Step 2:
Char the top one-eighth inch of each board, a process that takes approximately seven to ten minutes. After the planks are charred, one should douse them with water if the fire doesn’t go out on its own. Let the boards completely dry.
fujimori-terunobu-charred-cedar-separation-portraitStep 3:
Brush the charcoal dust off the dried, charred boards. The dust is very fine so use protective body gear and face masks to prevent unhealthy exposure to it.
Step 4:
Wash off the boards thoroughly and let them dry completely.
Step 5:
fujimori-terunobu-charred-cedar-water-portraitBoards can be left au naturel, or one can also finish the planks by oiling them with a natural wood sealant like Penofin. Boards will need to be oiled annually to preserve their character. From different angles the finished boards can look black, silver, or dark brown. Enjoy them!