bookmark_borderBamboo Satchel

More than ten years ago, I made a couple of small “boxes” (box1 box2) by wrapping bamboo sushi rolling mats around blocks of wood. Those two little boxes are still in use, and still going strong, so when I saw the RÖDEBY bamboo “armrest tray”, I knew just what I wanted to do.

The Roedeby comprises thirty bamboo slats that are bonded to a flexible canvas backer. I cut two 7.5 inch disks from pine board, and combined it with some hardware to make this satchel-

Bamboo Satchel

The bamboo is both glued and nailed to the pine disks, so it should be pretty sturdy. I attached the sling cord by drilling through the disks and then inserting the ends of the rope and tying stopper knots inside. the “latch” is a couple of brass cotter pins that are secured to the inner layer of bamboo and project through a couple of holes drilled in the outer layer of bamboo. In the above photo, the latch is secured with a small brass “lock” that I acquired at Pennsic a couple of years ago. Here it is open-

Bamboo Satchel Open, with Sake for Scale

You can see that there is quite a lot of space inside. I haven’t tried stuffing it, but I bet you could actually get 3 full-size bottles in there. It should be big enough for a small selection of tools, or a big lunch. I didn’t base it on anything I’ve seen anywhere, so I wouldn’t call it a medieval or Japanese woodworking project, but it’s a handy object that won’t be too disruptive if I carry it to an SCA event.

bookmark_borderMini Oseberg Loom

A while back, a friend and fellow fiber artist asked me if I could make a tabletop-sized “Oseberg Loom” that she could use in displays and demonstrations. An Oseberg Loom is a medieval style of loom for weaving narrow bands, and it is often used for tablet weaving (aka: card weaving). My friend is an experienced and enthusiastic tablet weaver who often displays work at SCA events.

I started looking around on the Internet, and found that a “real” Oseberg loom is about 2 meters long and about a meter tall. (Thanks, Ulf!) Now I understood why my friend wanted a “mini” version. Drawings enabled me to scale the pieces down, and get to work in wood.

Mini Oseberg Loom in Pine

My completed mini-loom is about 21 inches long and 12 inches tall. It is made of pine, with a blonde shellac finish. The feet join to the horizontal beam with dovetails, the stretcher bar joins to the verticals with a pinned through-mortise, and the verticals attach to the base with long screws. I thought about using more joinery, but I realized that screws would be more rigid, more durable, and much easier. The screws also make it possible to disassemble the loom if necessary for travel or repairs. There is no glue, though the shellac may of course make the pieces stick to each other..

I was able to do almost all of the cutting on the band saw, except for some of the detail work. The beveling on the base pieces (and the rounding on the verticals) was done using a router. I have a small router table that uses a handheld trim router, which is very handy for this kind of small project. The through mortises were drilled and then squared up with a chisel.

bookmark_borderStorage Trays for Tama

Through a combination of gifts, purchases, and gift purchases, I have acquired 64 of the 100g tama from Braiders Hand. Right now, they are all in use, but eventually, I may have to put them in something for storage. Since boxes are easier to make than tama, I retreated to the garage to make these storage trays.

Four pine storage trays for tama

They are made from 1/2-inch thick pine boards, and each can hold 32 tama. My general rule for storage options is that you should always plan for twice as many whatevers as you have now. The corners are mitered, and the bottom is rabbeted and then set into a dado that goes all the way around. This lets the bottom expand and contract with humidity changes while still being 1/2-inch thick. There are no fasteners in the tray, just glue. I can make two trays from a single 6-foot 1-by-10.

Four pine storage trays, stacked

It takes a while, though. Plus, it takes a planer (to turn 3/4-inch 1-by into 1/2-inch lumber), a table saw (to cut all the pieces and joinery), and a sander (so that everything looks nice and smooth). These trays might someday become become drawers in a kind of kotansu, but that day is probably far off.

Update: I realize that I did not do a very good job of describing how the bottoms of the trays are joined to the walls. I made a diagram –

the bottom is rabbeted and then set into a dado

bookmark_borderSmall Tabletops for Folding Stools

So, I’ve made a bunch of these Shogi folding stools, and I thought it would be handy if I used up some surplus lumber to make a small tabletop that would turn a stool into a table.

I didn’t have a real plan, so I just cut two pieces of 1-by-8 and edge glued them together to make a square, then I nailed some miter-cut 2-by-4 trimmings around the edge to make it into a tray. A little polyurethane and it was ready to go. It was fine, but I realized (too late) that if I’d made it rectangular instead of square, then the rim pieces would slide down over the ends of the stool pieces and it would never slide off.

It took me some time to get around to executing my brand new plan and make a second tabletop, but I finally declared this project done when the second coat of polyurethane was dry. You can see that making it just a little larger makes it a lot more secure.

It almost looks like a real table, and not just a tray sitting on a stool.

bookmark_border14th-century Japanese Toolchest Mark 3

I have been putting off the next step in this long-running experimental archaeology project more because I wanted to work on it at a particular event than because of my normal level of procrastination. I planed down the 1by lumber months ago, then I cut and assembled the chest at Aethelmearc War Practice. I started this project working on the Mark Zero “proof of concept” chest at War Practice back in 2018 or 2019.

Anyway, this is the fourth try at making a tool chest that looks like one you can see in the Kasuga Gongen Engi-e. This emaki illustrated scroll is from the 14th century and shows scenes from the history of a Kasuga shrine, including the shrine’s construction.

To better match the size and look of the Kasuga chest, I started with 1×6 lumber instead of the 1×8 I used on the Mark 2. It’s only about 39 inches long instead of the fifty-something inches of the Mark 2. I also used the thicker battens like I discussed, which I think worked out well.

Here is what the four chests look like laid out in a row:

I think I really have the look now. The size an proportions may not be exactly right, but it’s pretty much there. I’ll maybe work on a few tweaks at some point in the future.

It’s long enough that I can get some of my longer saws in there, just deep enough that things don’t get buried under several layers, and still wide enough that some of my organizer tills fit in there sideways to keep things from sliding around.

bookmark_borderEndai Bench with Folding Legs

We are going to need some auxiliary seating at an SCA event in March, and most of the benches I have made are locked up in a storage trailer. Plus, they are large and not very portable. My breakdown bench is nice and portable, but somewhat of a pain to re-create given the weird joinery. I decided to design something based on the shape of a Japanese endai bench, but a little smaller than normal, and with folding legs so that it be a little more portable. Bonus points if I could make it so that it would fit in a little fold-up wagon we use to transport stuff at events.

The endai with folding legs

The top of this bench measures 15″x30″ and it is about 15″ tall. It took me most of a Saturday in the shop from start to finish. I was able to construct it entirely from lumber that I already had in the garage. The majority of the 2by4 material came from a single 12-footer that’s been up on the rack for three or four years. As a consequence, the bench has a bit of a twist to it and doesn’t sit completely flat on the floor until you put some weight on it. Even the axles for the legs are made from a poplar dowel I had “in stock”.

The endai with folded legs

Late in the design process, I decided to move the legs in one inch from the ends. I did not think about the fact that this would mean that the legs would have to be shorter if they were going to fold entirely into the undercarriage. So, it does not fold up entirely, but it does fold up mostly. If I cut the legs an inch shorter, they would fit, but I also would have to cut clearance curves onto the ends so that the corners wouldn’t jam things up.

I used screws to hold the whole thing together, which I’m not proud of, but I just was not in the mood to do fancier joinery than that. I am proud of the fact that I did most of the cutting by hand with a ryoba saw, though the curves at the tops of the legs were much easier on the band saw. The sanding and assembly were all done with power tools, because I really did want this to be done in one day. Success!

bookmark_borderNew Older Japanese Tool Chest

Most of the Japanese toolchests I make follow the pattern established by Toshio Odate, which makes them very traditional, but very modern.

From Page 10 of Odate’s
Japanese Woodworking Tools

So what were Japanese toolchests like in the medieval period? Similar in some ways, but a lot less sophisticated.

From the circa 1309 emaki
Kasuga Gongen Genki-e

In this fourteenth century illustrated scroll, two apprentices take a break from working on the construction site of a new temple. One leans against a tool chest that is open, showing some tools inside. We can estimate that this chest is about 3 feet long, about 1 foot wide, and six or seven inches deep. The end handles and clever locking mechanism are missing, but the cross battens keep the lid from falling in. The wood seems very thin, represented by a single line whereas the battens are shown with rectangular ends. No joinery or fasteners are visible, which makes them something of a mystery. Butt joinery is used on the modern chest, so we can assume it was used here, too. No edge to the bottom of the box is visible, so the bottom piece is most likely fully captive. Nails are used on the modern chest, so it’s likely they are used here, though they may be wooden nails or pegs.

Here is my interpretation of the fourteenth century toolchest:

My New Older Japanese Toolchest

I ran a 6-foot 1×8 and a 6-foot 1×12 through the planer to shave it down to a half-inch thick. I cut the bottom, lid, and two ends from the wide wood. I cut the sides and battens from the “narrow” wood, ripping the 7.25″ width into 2″ battens. Then, I nailed it all together.

My New Older Japanese Toolchest, Opened

I deadened the nails for the lid, so it should hold together pretty well. The whole thing is 29 inches long, which was about the biggest chest I could make from the two boards with which I started.

What did I learn? My chest isn’t long enough, and it’s possibly too deep. The proportions just don’t look right. My battens should be made from thicker wood, and should be both narrower and closer to the ends of the lid. Because I used thinner wood, this chest is a lot lighter than a previous attempt. Very little wood is wasted, unless you count the one third of the lumber that got turned into shavings.

bookmark_borderMonitor Riser

first project of he new year! Sharon’s been asking for this for a while, and I finally got around to it. It’s a desk riser to boos her monitor a few inches so she can see the monitor over the laptop screen and have a place to stow her flatbed scanner when she’s not using it.

Sharon’s Monitor Riser

So yes, this is more left-over shelf material from the old house. I spent so much time staining and finishing these shelves that I could not bear to throw them away when we moved six years ago, and I have been cannibalizing them as pre-finished materials for little projects ever since,

this riser is 21 inches of pine 1×10 shelf supported by some 3.25″ lengths of 1×10 to make the riser about 4 inches tall. The “legs” are joined to the top using furniture dowels (left over from IKEA purchases) and a couple of brass right angle brackets to make sure it does not wobble. I added some stain and water-based polyurethane to the cut edges to give the riser a completed look. I even did most of the cutting by hand because it was faster than setting up the table saw for four cuts.

Sharon needed 17.5 inches between the legs to stow the scanner without kinking the cord, so the 18 inches I gave her is more than enough. So much classier and more useful than a couple of phone books!

bookmark_borderKeyboard Booster for Work

I started a new job back in September, while the office was completely closed. I about reached the end of my work-from-home productivity rope this Spring, so I appealed to my boss to be allowed to start coming in to the office. It’s been a good move, productivity-wise, as I am able to focus on work much better when I am not in the same room with so much of my crafting equipment and materials.

One thing I was really missing about my home office though, was the ability to work while standing. At home, I had started putting the cedar stepstool up on the craftsman endtable, and using that assembly as a standing desk for my work laptop. In the office, I’m using a desktop computer with a full keyboard, and the stepstool is not wide enough to accommodate that and a mouse.

Luckily, I still had some finished pine shelves from the old house in the garage. I cut one of them up into pieces, joined the pieces with dowels and glue, reinforced the joins with some metal right-angle brackets, finished the cut ends of the pieces, and now I have a standing desk for work without having to appeal to the furniture gatekeepers for an expensive motorized desk.

Keyboard Booster at Work

If you are interested in my ginchy custom desktop backgrounds, see the “Liberty Exit” and “Tokyo Maple Shrine” images in my Desktops Gallery.

bookmark_borderShelf Table

Back at the old house, we had six shelves in the guest/sewing room. They were made from edge-glued pine panels, stained with a water-based “rosewood” stain, and finished with water-based polyurethane. Here at the new house, we only needed two of them, so the other four shelves were in storage waiting for a good project.

Two Shelves

A few months ago, the Sweetie asked if I could make a bedside table for the guest room here at the new house. The only real requirements were that it matched the room furniture, and had enough space underneath to fit this hamper that also lives in the room.

Shelf Table

I took three of the surplus shelves, cut them to length, joined them with dowels, and glued them together. Of course, that was pretty-rickety. so I added some diagonal braces that I cut from one of the offcut pieces of shelf.

Underside of Shelf Table, showing bracing

Not very fancy, but it saved us a trip to the furniture box, and we know it matches the shelves!