Comparing the Way of the carpenter to strategy

[In the following section, Musashi demonstrates his detailed knowledge of carpentry in comparing a command structure to the carpenters' guild. However, comparing samurai to carpenters appears to have been common in his days.]

The master carpenter is the organizer and director of the carpenters and it is his duty to understand the regulations of the country and the locality, and to abide by the rules of his guild.

The master carpenter must know the architectural theory of towers and temples, the plans of palaces and all sorts of structures, and must employ people to raise up houses. In this way, the Way of the master carpenter is comparable to the Way of the commander of a warrior house.

In the construction of houses, careful selection of woods is made. Straight unknotted timber of good appearance is used for the revealed pillars, straight timber with small defects is used for the inner pillars. Timbers of the finest appearance, even if a little weak, is used for the thresholds, lintels, doors, and sliding screens. Good strong timber, though it be gnarled and knotted, can always be used thoughtfully in consideration of the strengths of the other members of the house. Then the house will last a long time.

Even timber which is weak or knotted and crooked can be used as scaffolding, and later for firewood.

The master carpenter distributes the work among his men according to their levels of skill. Some are floor layers, others makers of sliding doors, thresholds and lintels, ceilings and so on. Those of poor ability lay the floor joists, and those of even lesser ability can carve wedges and do such miscellaneous work. If the master knows and deploys his men well the work will progress smoothly and the result will be good.

The master carpenter should take into account the abilities and limitations of his men. Circulating among them, he can know their spirit and different levels of morale, encourage them when necessary, understand what can and cannot be realized, and thus ask nothing unreasonable. The principle of strategy is like this.