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_borderFrame Loom

I was on a Zoom conference recently with a bunch of braiders, and somebody was showing off a portable frame loom she’d made from dowels and plumbing fittings. It was compact enough to fit into the laptop compartment of her backpack, but she often had to display it to the TSA because of the copper elbow joins at the corners. I was pretty sure I could make something similar from just wood, so I did it just to prove my concept to myself.

All-wood frame loom

Mine is a little beefier than hers. She used 5/8 dowels, but I wound up using 3/4″ dowels and 1″ square rod. Mine is also a little larger than hers, at 12″x17″. This (for obscure reasons) is a very Japanese aspect ratio. There is no glue, so I could knock out the pins if any part needs to be replaced. Here’s a close-up on the joinery.

Pegged through-joins at the corners

I did use a drill-press and some fancy bits to make sure the holes for the joinery were straight and clean, but other than that it was all sawing to length and tapping together with a hammer. The materials were all purchased at a local chain hardware big-box store, so nothing too exotic.

bookmark_borderBox for 4×6 Index Cards

I use index cards for a lot of things. I used to have a printer that would accept 3×5 cards on manual feed, so I’d print out all kinds of useful information onto cards for handy reference. I even made a box to hold printed and blank 3×5 cards on my desk so that I’d always have them within easy reach. That printer is long gone, and my current printer will only take things as small as 4×6 cards. So, it was time for a new box.

Full 4×6 Box

A friend gave me some thin wood scants, I think they might be mahogany, and I had enough to make this box. There is no fancy joinery, it’s all held together with glue and 23-gauge pins. There is even a divider down the center to keep the clean cards separate from the used ones.

Empty 4×6 Box

It is finished with a couple coats of blonde shellac, which really brightens up the wood color and gives it some polish. I put some cork squares on the underside so that it won’t scratch up my desk. You might notice that it holds the cards in landscape orientation. Given the shapes of the wood pieces I had, it was actually more economical to do it this way than portrait. The 3×5 box was portrait, and made from cedar.

4×6 and 3×5 Boxes Compared

bookmark_borderStorage Box for Stickers

Over the past few years, I’ve had a number of custom vinyl stickers made by StickerGuy.com. If you get on their mailing list, they send email every couple of months about specials, and for smaller stickers the price for a minimum order of stickers is usually less than $30. It’s kind of an extravagance, but sometimes the monthly special is for a set of colors that are useful for some SCA heraldry or other shenanigan. Anyway, having all these banded bundles of stickers around is starting to get annoying, so I built a box to organize them.

Box for 2.75″ stickers

I still have some thin wood scants left over from long-ago projects, so it was a pretty simple thing to split some to size and glue up a little box. The interior of the box is 12 inches long, 2.8125 inches wide, and 2 inches deep. There are no fasteners or fancy joinery. This box won’t see much abuse, so I’m hoping glued butt joints will be sufficient. The wood is kind of special, I guess. The label said it was mahogany. I think it was intended for the dollhouse building boom of the 1990s.As you can see, this box is nearly full, so I may need to make another one some time.

bookmark_borderOne Year of the Shourou

I assembled the bell tower back in August of last year, and finished up working on it in September. Since then, it has survived snowstorms, rainstorms, windstorms, cold, heat, and everything. It has made my sweetie’s front garden even prettier for a full year!

Here it is, surviving yet another deluge

bookmark_borderBook Risers for a Friend

A fiend of ours contacted me about making some book risers. This firend has just moved to a new house that has some built-in bookshelves that are deep and tall, which is nice for hardbacks but inefficient for paperback. My solution is to stack books vertically and sideways.

My solution, with edge tags

Not everybody like this solution, though. They like to be able to see at least a portion of all the spines, even though it is less efficient.

What most people want

To achieve this, though, you need some kind of riser. I know people who use foam blocks, or cardboard inserts, but plywood is way stronger and more durable, so this friend contacted me.

Risers being painted

Here they are being painted matte black in the driveway. They are basically just open-bottom boxes. There is an extra support piece in the middle, just to keep them stable. They are made from half-inch plywood, with simple butt joinery, glue, and 23 gauge pins. Two different sizes, one for paperbacks and one for trrade paperbacks. They are clear-coated to keep the black from rubbing off, and felted on the bottom to keep from scratching the shelves. They are not perfect, but since once they are in place it is possible that nobody will ever see them again, that’s probably OK.

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.