Almost two years ago, I received what is called my “Laurel Writ”, which is basically a command to present myself to the Crown of the local SCA Kingdom and accept (or decline) elevation to the Order of the Laurel. The Laurel is a “peerage” level award, recognized Society-wide but awarded at the Kingdom Level. In terms of rank, it is the equivalent of a Knighthood, but for arts and research instead of for fighting prowess and chivalrous conduct.

My “elevation garb” was a “Bunkan Sokutai“, the fanciest and most formal outfit my SCA persona would ever have had reason to wear. There are a lot of parts to this outfit, meaning not only several layers of garments, but several vital accessories. Sharon did all of the important layers of garments, and I did most of the accessories. One accessory I did not have ready in time is the gyotai.

Gyotai translates as “fish bag”. This accessory is reserved for courtiers of high enough rank that they have access to the Imperial palace. Apparently, it started as a belt-hung charm that was actually shaped like a fish, but eventually became what you see below.

Gyotai (possibly Gyoutai)

I started with a block of red oak, 2.5 inches by 4.75 inches. Then, I covered it in real ray skin, attached with epoxy adhesive. Then, I hammered the brass strip for texture, and nailed it in place. It is bent over at the top, and riveted to hold the ring for hanging. The fish are pewter buttons. I had to paint them gold, and spray coat the gold paint for durability. On the other hand, the shanks of the buttons made it very easy to drill a few holes and attach the fish to the surface. There is one more fish on the back of the gyotai, and the brass strip covers up the terrible seam in the rayskin.

So, this project was two years in the intention, but it really only took two days in the shop to get all the work done. Considering that I haven’t even seen one of these in a museum, it feels so good to have one of my very own.

bookmark_borderBackpack Slipcase

I have these two things that I have been carrying around in my backpack for years, One is a slim plastic pencil case for miscellaneous adapters and cables. The other is a small Bluetooth keyboard for when I have serious typing to do on my phone. These coexist fairly well in some backpacks, but in others they just slide on top of each other and take up way too much space. I needed to make something that would hold them vertical, yet still make it easy to grab one or the other and pull it from my bag without having to undo fasteners.

The faces, once again, are thing plywood from the scrap pile. The dividers, and the floor you can’t really see, are half-inch by 1.25″ trimmings from 2×4. I have a bundle of these sticks from making the stands for the 7-Pearls Banner Project. Quick work to cut everything to size on the band saw, glue in place, then secure with brads from the nail gun. (This Ryobi cordless electric nail gun is probably one of the most useful tools I have ever bought from them. This model is a little finnicky, and they don’t sell it any more. I haven’t tried the newer models.)

The only fancy thing about this slipcase, besides its 100% custom nature, are the grab slots I cut to make it easier to actually grab the items. The keyboard box sticks up, but the pencil case totally disappears inside. If I ever stop using the cardboard box for that keyboard, its slot will be more necessary. Here is the slip case in my backpack:

Slipcase in Backpak

I’ve been wanting this for a while, so I’m glad I finally made some time to get this done.

bookmark_borderBand Saw Box

All my spare blades for the band saw have been sitting in an inadequate CocaCola crate for years. This state of affairs was becoming more and more untenable when I was switching blades back and forth during the shogi project. While I was waiting for some glue to dry on a more central project, I decided to rectify that.

Band Saw box on Band Saw Table

The faces are some 3/16″ plywood from the scrap pile. The sides and floor of the box are some 3/8″ plywood from the scrap pile. Some of these utility projects are basically just ways for me to justify having kept around these massive quantities of scrap lumber for so long. The whole thing is just glued together with butt joints and pinned with 18gauge brads from the nail gun. One slightly fancy thing about this box are the two finger holes that make it easier to pick up the box.

Anyway, the interior is a little larger than 12″ wide, by 6″ deep. This gives me plenty of room to slide in the blister cards that Lowes sells 93.5″ band saw blades on. Another slightly fancy thing is a bracket for holding the miter gauge. It’s always a challenge finding someplace to put that thing when I’m no t using it. You can see how nicely this box fits on the band saw table, making it difficult for these two items to get separated.

Some months ago, I reorganized the shop a bit to make it easier to get to the band saw. At the old house, the band saw was set up in the middle of the basement and was always available for little things like making useful boxes. I’m so glad I have this saw back where I can use it easily without having to move other stuff out of the way.

bookmark_borderHitsu Project Completed

This is a project I started way before I got the blog going gain, but I finally added one of the final details to make this project complete. This is a “hitsu“, a Japanese storage box. They’re often used to store armor (which would make them a “gusoku hitsu” or “gusoku bitsu”), and often when you see a set of Japanese armor on display, the armor stand is sitting on top of the storage hitsu. They often have bail handles so a pair of people can carry one or multiple hitsu slung from a pole, and sometimes they have carry straps so a single person could carry the hitsu on their back.

The body of the box is thin plywood to keep the weight down. It’s framed in on the inside with 1×1 lumber, to give the nails something to bite into. The corners are also reinforced with brass hardware that I made myself by cutting it from sheet brass with snips. the latch is a sash lock, which isn’t the best, but it looks ok and is beefy enough to keep the hitsu closed during carrying.

All the wood is protected on the outside by spar urethane, so I think this will be good for carrying things around on drizzly days at Pennsic. that’s the main reason for this project, carrying things around at Pennsic.