We had a plastic bin at the back of of kitchen utensil drawer that held chopsticks and other miscellaneous items. I got tired of having to dig for chopsticks, and my father had coincidentally gifted me with some cherry grilling planks. We love cherry wood here, and I wasn’t going to just set fire to it, so it’s projectin’ time.
I made a box that’s as wide as the utensil drawer, and a smaller tray to hold chopsticks so that they do not just fall to the bottom and have to be dug out. This construction turned out to be a little too tall, so I shaved some off the top and eventually cut the bottom completely off. Here are the pieces.
The tray slide back and forth, or it lifts right out for easy access to the utensils underneath. Of course we have more stuff than actually fits in the bin, but that can be moved elsewhere.
I finished the whole thing with some salad bowl oil finish, which only takes 3 days to dry, but makes the wood look attractive.
Learn to make things, because people who buy things are suckers.
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 organizertills fit in there sideways to keep things from sliding around.
Back in December, we installed a murphy bed in the guest bedroom. The room is kind of small, so the guest bed was taking up most of the floor space in the room. A murphy bed leaves more of the floor open when it is not being used. I saw some nifty-looking wall brackets in the Woodcraft, and these looked good to the landlady, so I went for it and decided to install a wall-mounted fold-down desk.
The desktop is actually four lengths of 1by8 that I edge-glued and doweled. Then, I cut the desktop to length, sanded, stained, sealed, and finished. After that, I just had to mount the brackets on the wall, and attach the desktop to the brackets. Easy peasy.
My sweetie made some fancy Japanese garb for the current Sovereign and Consort of our SCA Kingdom. She did all the work on both outfits except for one part. Eboshi are kind of my thing, so she let me make eboshi to go with his outfit.
From left to right there is a soft linen nae eboshi, a tall linen hikitate eboshi, and a tall mesh hikitate eboshi. So far, I think I have only seen him wear the mesh one, but I think it is always good to have options. Here’s what the completed outfits look like:
These outfits probably would look awesome even without a hat, but the eboshi really sets the mood, I think.
Took a second swing at this project. Here it is up on sawhorses in my workshop/garage:
It’s huge! It’s 4.5 feet long and a foot wide. It fits in the trunk of my car ok if I fold the rear seats down, but it’s way too big. Probably at fault is my desire to use 1by8 for the sides. To keep the length in proportion to the height it’s just way too long. Maybe I’ll try again sometime with 1by6 instead. That would make it only about 40 inches long by my reckoning. Compare the image below with the original painting.
I’m also pretty sure I should be making my battens narrower, and probably from the full 3/4″ thickness of board instead of my 1/2″ planed-down thickness. As a bonus, here is an image of all the tools I needed to construct this Mark 2 chest, stored in the Mark 1:
There’s not much you need, really, to build a simple chest.
Last week, we attended the “Armistice” event up at Cooper’s Lake Campground. Informally called “Pretendsic”, this was the event that the campground decided to run on their own after the SCA’s Pennsic War was cancelled again. It was a much smaller and informal version of a war, with no organized battles and many fewer classes. We did not even camp up there most nights, and brought all our own food. We spent a lot of time in camp braiding, and I completed these four braids.
All four braids were made using kute-uchi hand-loop braiding. The two inner braids are Mitake-gumi 10-loop rectangular braids, both using a single ply of acrylic yarn for each loop. The two outer braids are Maru-genji-gumi 16-loop round braids. The inner of the two uses a single ply of acrylic yarn for each loop, and the outer uses two plies of cotton crochet thread for each loop. To keep the loops together in bundles for the 2-ply braid, I used rope kute handles. These were all braided while seated on a bench, and I used my toes to beat the stitches if the braids were too long for manual tightening.
Basically as soon as Sweetie and I had reached full immunity following our second COVID-19 inoculations (it’s not really a vaccine, you know), we went and visited my parents in NJ. They still live where I grew up in NJ, and although we did not want to go into NYC to visit fabric stores, I decided to search around the area to see what might have become available in the 30+ years since I left. Sure enough, the large presence of immigrants from Southeast Asia in my home town had resulted in some great fabric stores catering to their tastes, including one just 15 minutes from my parents’ house, called “Fabric Guy“. I was looking for some figured white silk for another project, but also wound up buying some of this lovely medium-weight silk brocade.
I suddenly decided that I needed a fancy kosode, because who doesn’t need a new fancy kosode every once in a while? One difficulty with the project is that the gold metallic threads for the flower buds (or whatever they are) are pretty much just behind those graphics. Cutting the fabric released hundreds of little whiskers, and I realized that wearing the kosode would break off more of those and they would get into everything else. The solution was to add a lining to the plan.
I had some light-weight habotai silk in my stash, so I used that. I’ve madelinedgarmentsbefore, so this was not alien territory for me, but it has been a while. The trick, for those who don’t know it, is to leave closing the neckband for the very last step. That enables you to attach the sleeve linings to the body lining easily by pulling those seams to the outside of the garment. This silk was so light that keeping it still enough to sew was something of a challenge, but it came out OK, I think.
After 16 (!) years, my hydrangea-print flannel pajamas (the first pajamas I ever made) are well on their way to being entirely worn out, so I decided to get around to doing some more sewing and make myself some new flannel pajamas.
These use a great shibori-print “Snuggle” brand flannel from the fabric store and (again) my favorite sewing pattern of all time. Again, though, I left the pockets and false fly out of the pants. I did wind up cutting the fabric too short for the pants legs, so I added the same style cuff to the legs that the pattern has for the sleeves.
Not so much lately, given the extreme heat we’ve been having, but for much of the Spring I found my blue shop coat to be extraordinarily handy. I’m the kind of person who won’t really leave the house without a jacket or coat of some kind, so a mid-weight, durable chore coat was nice to have. If I’d worn it recently for actual woodworking, it was probably too dusty to wear out in public, though.
I thought it would be handy to have a second shop coat, but I didn’t like any of the other colors of cotton duck cloth that the store had in stock. Blue is a good neutral color, but I didn’t want another blue one, and black is really not my style. I decided to use this “natural” duck cloth.
Sharon points out that the unbleached “natural” color will probably hide sawdust very well. It sure does get wrinkly in the wash, though. That “crumpled paper bag” texture you can see in the photo is not exaggerated by the lighting; that’s what it really looks like.
Also, for some reason I wound up attaching the pockets really low on this one. The upper pockets on the blue coat are up near the first button, but there are down at the second button, about 5 inches lower. The pockets are also larger on this one, so it gives the coat a bottom-heavy appearance. It’s far too late to worry about it now, though. Maybe I will add a pocket or two higher up, or some decorative embroidery.
I also added a button to the left breast pocket. I found that it was very tempting to put my phone in that pocket, but on the blue coat there was always a risk that the phone could slip out and be damaged on the shop floor (like my last two phones were). I should really add a flap or something to the blue coat’s breast pocket.
So what did the little collection of tools on a stool look like at the end of the project?
You can see I’ve added a sashigane, a larger ruler, a socket awl and a drilling block. The awl is useful for making a hole where the brad point of a drill bit can go to keep the bit from skating around as the hole gets started. The block keeps the drill bit perpendicular to the surface of the wood as the hole is drilled. The other black plastic thing is a right-angle block.