I have made quite a few wooden frame lanterns, called andon in Japanese, but most of them were designed around battery-powered lights of one kind or another. The battery-powered LED lights look great, but they are not nearly as bright as regular electric bulbs run off AC power. So, since our camp at Pennsic has AC power at least most of the time, I decided to make some new andon around high output (1000 lumen) LED bulbs.
These are the first three I made, hanging in the shourou. Look at how bright they are! I bought some black appliance cords at the Lowes, then spliced outdoor light sockets onto the ends. The cords are probably overkill electrically, but they come with molded plugs already on one end and stripped wires at the other. Perfect for projects. The lantern actually hangs from the fixture.
Here’s the one I made as a present for Sharon. This cord is a little longer than the others to enable this specific hanging arrangement. There is a switched outlet right at the base of the windows next to the front door.
After completing the Mahogany Solar Flicker Lantern a few weeks ago, I was able to get a nice evening picture of all six lanterns in the project (with lighting units installed) hanging from the Belfry. Most of the glow in the background is actually coming from the streetlight which is hidden behind the belfry roof, but this angle makes the lanterns look much brighter than they really are.
I’ve only made three of these lanterns so far, but I intend to make six, so eventually I will need something to transport and store them all in, or they are going to get pretty beat up. So, another box.
This was also yet another exercise in using up surplus materials from other projects. I wound up having to use a piece of MDF for the lid, because that was the biggest piece of anything I had left. The edges are off-cut from 2-by-4 lumber from when I was making pole by cutting square pieces from 2-by-4. It awfully satisfying to use up some of that stuff.
You can see that the extra height of the lid makes it easy to get the lanterns in and out of the box. There’s an extra half inch in each direction, so the lanterns fit snugly but not tightly.
The whole thing is finished on the outside with spar polyurethane, especially the MDF on the lid, to give it a little more water resistance than a cardboard box. I glued some blocks of wood to the bottom to serve as feet, so it won’t be resting entirely in any puddles.
Basically, the whole thing is constructed with glue and nails form the nail gun. The bottom is thicker plywood to make it bottom-heavy, and the rim on the body both supports the lid and reinforces the corners of the box. This is a design and method I’ve used before with some success.
A lot of the sizing of pieces can be done while you’re building. For instance, I make the body of the box, then I measure the outside of the top before cutting the pieces for the lid. That way the lid is sized to fit the actual box, and not just my best hope.
The whole thing is kind of rough, because it’s not supposed to be anything special. You can see in the photos that I didn’t even sand off the mill markings.
This lantern is mostly made from some surplus 3/4″ oak I had in the garage. It uses the same mortise-and-tenon frame I’ve used for the other lanterns, except for the two diagonal braces just under the top rails. The suspension mechanism is also a little different, just some 1/8″ nylon rope inserted through drilled holes, and a brass ring.
The exterior is some Warlon Taf-Top shoji “paper”. This paper is coated with polyester fibers, making it water resistant and more durable than paper. It’s good stuff, and not that much more expensive than regular shoji paper. The paper is just wrapped around the outside and held in place with double-sided tape.
The top part of the garden light drops into the top of the lantern and rests on the diagonal braces. The top part has the solar panel, battery, and bulb; and is itself sealed against weather. This makes it the ideal lighting unit for this kind of project. The bulb is actually a cob of dozens of LEDs that play a little flame animation. It’s very realistic.
At Pennsic, the group we camp with likes to hang lanterns out in front of camp. Solar lanterns means we don’t have to worry about burning anything down or changing batteries. I’ll need to make a bunch more of these lanterns before Pennsic returns next year, if Pennsic returns next year.
I need to make a new hanging lantern for Pennsic, and I actually managed to spend some time out in the garage this weekend to get some of the bigger work done on this frame of the lantern.
It’s all left over cypress, joined with mortise and tenon joints. I cut the sticks on my band saw, smoothed them with a hand plane, cut them to length by hand, cut all the tenons on the router table, and cut all the mortises with a mortiser.
So, not a great example of hand work, but I might need to make a bunch of similar lanterns in the future, so I wanted to try to automate as much as possible. It still needs sanding, gluing, papering, and the insertion of some kind of light source.