bookmark_borderHitsu Project Completed

This is a project I started way before I got the blog going gain, but I finally added one of the final details to make this project complete. This is a “hitsu“, a Japanese storage box. They’re often used to store armor (which would make them a “gusoku hitsu” or “gusoku bitsu”), and often when you see a set of Japanese armor on display, the armor stand is sitting on top of the storage hitsu. They often have bail handles so a pair of people can carry one or multiple hitsu slung from a pole, and sometimes they have carry straps so a single person could carry the hitsu on their back.

The body of the box is thin plywood to keep the weight down. It’s framed in on the inside with 1×1 lumber, to give the nails something to bite into. The corners are also reinforced with brass hardware that I made myself by cutting it from sheet brass with snips. the latch is a sash lock, which isn’t the best, but it looks ok and is beefy enough to keep the hitsu closed during carrying.

All the wood is protected on the outside by spar urethane, so I think this will be good for carrying things around on drizzly days at Pennsic. that’s the main reason for this project, carrying things around at Pennsic.

bookmark_borderFrom Progress to Project

I managed to get all the joinery and tuning done on Friday, making this project complete. Here is the complete “Breakdown Bench”.

Breakdown Bench
This is the completed and assembled bench.

It’s pretty solid, given how tight some of the joinery came out. It still comes apart, though. I need to sand some of these pieces a bit, and maybe add some sealer, but otherwise, it’s done.

Pieces of the breakdown bench.
The completed bench, disassembled.

I wound up cutting the mortises on the benchtop pieces by drilling through and then cutting with a jig saw. This gave me the basic through- holes, then I tuned them with a rasp and a file.

bookmark_borderFrom Plan to Progress

I got started on this new bench project yesterday, and managed to make some real progress. Here is one complete set of legs for the breakdown bench.

Breakdown bench leg assembly
One leg assembly consisting of two legs, one stretcher, and one support beam.

I have the other leg assembly mostly done, but one of my support beams broke apart, and I had to start over on it.

Even with the band saw for cutting tenons and the mortising machine, this kind of joinery is time-consuming work. Cutting the mortises in the benchtop pieces might be done some other way.

bookmark_borderFrom Picture to Plan

When we were recently in Japan, we visited the Costume Museum in Kyoto. There are only a few costumes on display in the costume museum these days. Now it is mostly a large dollhouse model of scenes from the Tale of Genji. Part of one of these scenes was this great little bench.

Model of the bench
Model of a bench

So of course I decided that I need to make a bench just like this. The “no hardware” aspects of it really appeal to me, and even though it may turn out a bit unstable due to that, the ability to break it down into pieces for travel may come in handy. Also, since so many of these pieces have the approximate proportions of modern dimensional lumber, it shouldn’t be too hard to make.

Needless to say, it’s quite a bit of work to go from a photo of a scale model to a plan for cutting and joining actual lumber, but  assumptions about scale, combined with measurements of actual lumber, can be used to make decisions, and create plans.

bookmark_borderRecaulking the Tub

It’s not all fun and games here at the Booth/Evans household. Sometimes you have to do something boring and stupid like recaulk the tub.

The first step is to remove the old caulk. This reveals the secret of why the caulk is failing after only three years. The people who redid the bathroom skipped this step and just smeared new caulk over the existing dried-out old caulk. As part of the renovations, they also coated the ugly old tile with a white epoxy coating. This was also applied over the old caulk, and then caulked over to hide the fact. At least that’s a seal, but I had to be careful not to damage the epoxy coating when removing the caulk.

Anyway, here are the tools and supplies I used, lined up on the workbench.

Tools for re-caulking the tub
Re-caulking tools

From right to left: A set of steel scraping tools that are very useful for removing hardened old caulk. Scrape-Rite plastic razor blades for removing softer caulk. A rubber squeegee for shaping the caulk bead once it has been applied. A utility knife for opening the tube of caulk. A small “squeeze by hand” tube of caulk, which costs almost as much as a full tube, but is just enough caulk for this task and needs no gun. A paint brush for sweeping away residue. A protective glove for keeping chemicals off my skin. A cotton rag and ultra-fine scrubby pad. A can of denatured alcohol for cleaning surfaces.

The set of scraping tools is probably the best and most useful thing I have ever bought at Harbor Freight. Thank heavens for the plastic razor blades. They are just hard enough to slice through silicone caulk, but soft enouch not to scratch the epoxy coating.

bookmark_borderCypress Lantern Complete

Got the pieces all cleaned up and glued together. Got the paper installed. Here it is with a battery-operated lantern inside:

Cypress Lantern
A hanging Japanese style lantern made from cypress.

Getting that paper in there, reasonably smooth, and cut around the handle was a huge pain and took a couple of tries. It should look nice hanging in our camp gate at Pennsic.

bookmark_borderWoodwork in Progress, Lantern

I need to make a new hanging lantern for Pennsic, and I actually managed to spend some time out in the garage this weekend to get some of the bigger work done on this frame of the lantern.

Cypress lantern frame

It’s all left over cypress, joined with mortise and tenon joints. I cut the sticks on my band saw, smoothed them with a hand plane, cut them to length by hand, cut all the tenons on the router table, and cut all the mortises with a mortiser.

So, not a great example of hand work, but I might need to make a bunch of similar lanterns in the future, so I wanted to try to automate as much as possible. It still needs sanding, gluing, papering, and the insertion of some kind of light source.