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_borderTakadai Raddle

According to the takadai book that I have, the used takadai that I bought from a friend needs one more accessory to be complete. The raddle is used during set-up to keep the strands separated and in order before they are wound onto tama and placed on the koma. This takadai may not even have come with a raddle, since it is not 100% necessary for braiding. Having set up for two braids now, I can confirm it is optional. It does seem handy to have, though, so I decided to make one.

Takadai with Raddle

Thw raddle is the bar across the front of the takadai that is basically a row of pegs. I bought a piece of maple, and cut it down to the size I wanted. Then I drilled a line of 3/16″ holes along the length of the bar using the drill press, and rounded the top and side edges with a router.

Next, I cut a few 3/16″ diameter dowels into 1″ lengths. I rounded the ends of each peg with a Dremel grinding stone, and then glued one peg in each hole.

After attaching a couple of small blocks to the underside of the raddle so that it can be mounted in the slots of the outer arms, the raddle was ready to go.

bookmark_borderBox for 1 Lantern

A while back I made a Lantern Storage Box to hold the six wooden frame lanterns that I made for camp. I had previously made a couple of lantern storage boxes to protect a couple of large frame lanterns, but this smaller cypress lantern had no box in which to be stored. Now it does.

Lantern Atop its Box

Anyway, it’s just an empty box, made of plywood. These were some of the last medium-size plywood bits I had around the shop. If I want to do more quick projects like this, I might have to start buying new plywood, despite the current inflated prices. The hardwood rim provides some reinforcement, and gives you something to grab as a handle.

Empty Lantern Box

There’s just enough room inside to insert this particular lantern. The lantern actually sticks up a little past the sides of the box. I just didn’t have four pieces that were tall enough. You might even notice that the thicknesses of the sides are not even the same. It hardly matters.

Lantern in its Box

Once you are finished placing the lantern in the box, you can add the lid. The lid is tall enough that it rests on the handle rails instead of on the legs of the lantern. It’s not a very tight fit. Normally, I wind up making lids too tight-fitting, but this one is kind of loose. I might add some kind of closure so that the lid does not fall off if the box gets tipped over.

Closed Lantern Box

I put some polyurethane on the outside of the box, to protect the lantern if the roof of our storage trailer leaks or the box gets left out in the rain.

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_borderHappy Light Shoji Frame

Like many people, this winter was pretty bad for me. The isolation at home, the chaotic election, the violent attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government… I realize things were even worse for people who actually got sick, but the rest of us still had a lot to deal with. To help fight the depression, I bought one of those full spectrum lamps to at least help combat the winter blahs that are caused by lack of sunlight during the Winter. I think it helped, even if it was just the feeling that I was trying something new.

I bought a small-ish, flat-panel light that I could mount on the wall over my desk, or place off to the side on a table. It works great, and has a timer function so that I can chunk out my work day. The only problem is that its modern aesthetic clashes with my rustic Japanese decor preferences. So, I made a cedar “shoji” frame to disguise the lamp.

This is the lamp, a HappyLight from Verilux
The cedar frame slides down over the lamp
The frame does not interfere with the wall hook, table stand, or power jack
From the front

I can’t show you what it looks like with the light on, because the lamp is so bright that you wouldn’t be able to see anything else in the photo besides the glowing rectangle. I am thinking of adding some kumiko lattice-work to the frame opening, but kumiko are so trendy right now that I don’t know if I can bring myself to do that. Honestly, if one more person responds to me saying “I do some Japanese-style woodworking.” with “Have you tried kumiko?” I may stop discussing woodworking entirely.

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_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_borderTill for Stanley Chisels

A long time ago, I bought a set of six Stanley chisels on sale for $25. They came in a molded plastic case that was very handy for taking them places, but kind of inconvenient to have in a tool chest drawer. Recently, one of the latches broke off the case, and since these chisels rarely leave the house anyway, I decided to make a divided till to hold them.

Chisel Till in the Chisels and Scrapers Drawer

The floor of the till is some thin plywood from the scrap pile. The chisel handles are about 1.25″, so some 3/4″ thick 3/8″ wide scraps from the bin made good edges and dividers. These are glued in place, and then secured with 5/8″ x 18 gauge brads from the nail gun. The rail that supports the chisels blades is just some miscellaneous trimming from a 2×4 or something. It’s just glued in place since it’s not at risk of getting ushed over or anything.

Anyway, i’m pretty happy with it. We’ll see how well it does over time, but i think it will be fine. I actually worked on four things today, but this is the only one I completed, so cheers to it.