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_borderElectric Andon

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.

Three Electric Andon

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.

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_borderGarden Owl

Several years ago, I ordered something from the Lee Valley tool company and they included a sheet of gift wrapping paper with the order. On the inner surface of the paper were plans for a decorative owl you could make. I was looking through some stuff around the workbench the other day, and I found these plans. I’ve had some surplus half-inch thick pressure-treated plywood sitting around, and been wondering what to do with it. So, these two thoughts clicked together and I decided to get that round TUIT spinning.

Lee Valley Garden Owl

After using the band saw to cut out the pieces according to the pattern, I sanded the pieces to remove the fuzzy edges, then applied some oil-based stains that I have sitting on the shelf, and some white paint. Next, I glued the pieces in place and put in some 23 gauge headless pins to add a little mechanical stability, especially at the base where it’s an edge-to-surface butt joint. The next day, I sprayed it with a couple of coats of polyurethane, and that was pretty much it.

This is more of a craft project than a serious woodworking project, but it was a fun way to spend a few hours in the shop. Not everything has to be serious. My wife thinks it is cute, but it doesn’t really keep the doves off the patio. I’m hoping it might keep them from flying up into the windows, though.

Except for the band saw and the spray finish, this would be a good project if you are trying to keep a handful of youths busy for a while. Some of the smaller and rounder parts are a pain to cut, but it’s not precision work, so you can kind of fudge it. The gluing and painting could be done by anybody of any age and skill level. If things come out a little crooked that just adds character. The only vital joinery is where the base attaches to the owl.

If I make another one, I might use the router to round over the front edges of each piece to give it a slightly softer look. I like the way the stain gives the parts definition, and cover up the greenish hue of the plywood, without covering up all of the the grain and making it just look like plastic. I’ll have to see if there is enough surplus for one or two.

bookmark_borderUtensil Box from Cherry Planks

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.

bookmark_borderStool from Maple Board

My local Woodcraft location had some ambrosia maple cut-offs on sale for a reasonable price, so I picked up a ~5 foot long ~7″ by 1.5″ board and had to decide what to do with it. For the past few years, I’ve been thinking a lot about seating, so I decided to make a simple stool. Ishitani Furniture posted a video about making some 3-legged stools, and I thought about that, but I was not sure I had enough material for two stools. I decided to make one 4-legged stool.

I cut the board into two pieces. One 16″ piece I ripped into four leg pieces. I knocked the corners off those pieces with the intention of either using them as octagonal legs and later cutting tenons somehow, or turning them round. Then Chris Schwarz posted a video about turning tenoned chair legs on a lathe, and I decided to unpack the lathe and give it a try.

The legs came out about 1.375″ in diameter, with a 1″x2″ tenon turned on the end. Given that I am not super experienced at wood turning, and that this is the first time I have used the lathe in about 4 years, I think it went pretty well. They are not perfectly even, but the lathe makes everything perfectly round and smooth.

Next, I used a long, straight bit in the router to joint the edges of the board, then I used the same bit to cut a 1/2″ wide by 3/4″ deep slot into one edge of the board. I cut the board into two ~21″ long pieces, then cut a 1.5″ wide spline from some half-inch thick oak stock and used it to make a splined butt joint between the two pieces. I probably could have just glued the two edges together, but I wanted to try the splined joint, and the extra strength makes me feel better about sitting on the stool.

After letting the glue dry, I scraped off the squeeze-out and sanded it smooth. Then I pulled out a drilling guide and set it for ~10 degrees. I drew a 45 degree angle in from each corner, and clamped the drilling guide to the underside of the seat. I probably could have done this on the drill press, but I would have had to set up a jig to get a repeatable position on the seat. With the guide, I could align the guide to my pencil line, flush the corners of the guide with the edges of the board, clamp, and start drilling. I was using a 1″ Forstner bit to cut the mortises for the legs, so trying to do this by hand without a guide was not a good idea. Schwarz uses auger-tip spade bits for this job, but I hate spade bits with a passion, so that was out. Boring a 1″ hole at a 10 degree angle through a 1.5″ thick board was an athletic experience, but a little camellia oil in the hole kept the friction down so I was cutting and not burning my way through.

Then, I beveled the edges of the seat with a trim router. Normally, I soften the edges with a 1/8″ round-over, but I decided to go a little more angular and I’m really happy with the way it looks. The contrast between the angular seat and the round legs really works for me.

When I started to insert the leg tenons into the seat mortises, I realized it was going to be a very tight fit. I had thought that I would have to notch the tenons and wedge them into place, but as it was I needed to hammer them in and they are not coming out any time soon. Once the legs were in, I trimmed the tops of the tenons flush with the seat, and the bottoms of the legs parallel to the floor. Finally, a generous dosage of hemp oil finish.

That’s why you see it here in my drying cabinet/furnace room. I applied the oil before thoroughly reading the label and finding out that it takes a month to cure. All over but the waiting, I guess.

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_borderWall Desk

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.

The desk when it’s folded up.
The desk when it is folded down
Battens for strength and stability

This can also be my entry in The Space under the Window.

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.