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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are going to need some auxiliary seating at an SCA event in March, and most of the benches I havemade 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 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”.
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!
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.
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.
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.
One of our friends is really into embroidery. She has taken classes all over the place, gotten certifications from international guilds, and all that fancy stuff. For larger-scale projects, she has acquired a couple of oak embroidery frames. These are great, but it turns out they are not big enough for some of the projects she would like to attempt. Woodworking friend to the rescue!
Each frame has four pieces. The pieces for the original are the shorter ones above. The pieces for my larger version are the ones below.
The pieces with the big mortises and the round middle portion are the rollers. You stitch the ends of the fabric to the twill tape along the rollers, and you can roll very long pieces of fabric up and work on them in sections. In the picture, I have not yet attached the tape to the rollers.
The pieces with many small holes are the stretchers. They fit through the mortises, and you put pins into the holes to keep the rollers separated and under tension.
Here is what the frames look like when they are assembled:
You can see how much more workable area my copy provides. The pieces for the original frame are about 30 inches long, so she can work on panels about 2 feet wide. The pieces for my copy are 54 inches long, so she can work on panels about 4 feet wide. That is 4 times as much working area! I tried to make all the pieces interchangeable, so she will have even more flexibility.
Her original is made from oak. My copy is ash, which is a little less dense than oak but still strong, and less expensive. I started from a 1.5″-thick slab about 5 feet long, planed it down to the 1.25″ thickness I needed, and then rip cut the pieces I needed off of that. All the corners are rounded off with various router bits to make them more pleasant to handle.
The through-mortises in the rollers are rectangular instead of rounded, because I used a chisel mortiser and not a router. I had never done “rounded beam with square ends” thing before, so I had a little trouble with that, but I don’t think the problems are structural just cosmetic. I did get the hang of it eventually, but the first batch are a little shaky. I used the original stretchers as drilling guides for the new stretchers, so the holes are evenly spaced. I put two coats of Osmo PolyX on all the pieces as a finish. It’s the first time I have ever used PolyX, and I’m pretty happy with the results.
I did eventually get the tape for the rollers. I was just using a manual staple gun, so it was quite a lot of work to put a staple every inch on both rollers. My lines of staples are little crooked, but not too bad.
Before anybody suggests it, no I will not make and sell these. I was happy to make one as a favor for a friend, but this is somebody else’s design I’m outright copying. I could probably come up with my own design if I needed to, but it would be pretty different.
Many braiders who choose to work in silk buy premeasured bundles of silk threads. These bundles are usually designed to produce braids that are a good length for the obijime braids worn with formal kimono.
When sweetie and I braid, we are often aiming for other lengths, or specific colors that it is more economical to buy in bulk on spools. Then, we measure out our own bundles. Traditionally, this would be done on tall warping stands called bodai. We use a kind of mini-bodai that clamp to the edges of a table. I have made a few sets of these in the past, but I just made a nice set for Sharon.
They are made entirely from cherry wood, except for the screws that attach the pegs to the bases, and the hookie thingies of course.
I bent the metal rod in a 4″ metal brake that I had to buy a 4″ bench vise to use. It was super easy doing it this way. The bends are exactly where I wanted them and used the mechanical advantage of the vise instead of brute force.
With the “2 and 1” pegs that i normally make, if you have a 4 foot table you can measure out 4′, 8′, and 16′ warps fairly easily. By making this “2 and 2” set, she can now add 12′ and 24′ to her repetoire for those longer or more complex braids.