bookmark_borderOak Solar Flicker Lantern

This Japanese-style lantern is very similar to a few others I have made, but this one is sized to accept a solar-rechargeable flicker LED path light.

Lantern in the day

This lantern is mostly made from some surplus 3/4″ oak I had in the garage. It uses the same mortise-and-tenon frame I’ve used for the other lanterns, except for the two diagonal braces just under the top rails. The suspension mechanism is also a little different, just some 1/8″ nylon rope inserted through drilled holes, and a brass ring.

The exterior is some Warlon Taf-Top shoji “paper”. This paper is coated with polyester fibers, making it water resistant and more durable than paper. It’s good stuff, and not that much more expensive than regular shoji paper. The paper is just wrapped around the outside and held in place with double-sided tape.

Drop-In Lighting Unit

The top part of the garden light drops into the top of the lantern and rests on the diagonal braces. The top part has the solar panel, battery, and bulb; and is itself sealed against weather. This makes it the ideal lighting unit for this kind of project. The bulb is actually a cob of dozens of LEDs that play a little flame animation. It’s very realistic.

Lantern at night

At Pennsic, the group we camp with likes to hang lanterns out in front of camp. Solar lanterns means we don’t have to worry about burning anything down or changing batteries. I’ll need to make a bunch more of these lanterns before Pennsic returns next year, if Pennsic returns next year.

bookmark_borderBaronial Belt Favors

I would have tried to get these done before Pennsic, but since Pennsic was cancelled for this year due to nobody wanting to share a campground with 10,000 other people from all over the world, I procrastinated.

10 Debatable Lands belt favors

These were all machine embroidered onto some nice heavy golden yellow cotton duck fabric, and display the Baronial comet along with “Salve Accolens” (“Hello Neighbor”), the Baronial motto. Each is about six inches wide, and 18 inches long (they are doubled over in the photo). You can see I tried out a couple of different typefaces before deciding on this classy French Script, and if you look closely you can also see that I tried out some of the dozens of decorative top-stitching patterns that are available on my sewing machine but that I almost never use.

bookmark_borderBunny Pajamas

I was in the fabric store that shall not be named a couple of weeks ago, and they were having a sale on all cotton prints. Their selection of Japanese prints was pretty bad, so I bought a cute bunny rabbit print from the “Easter” colection, to make a new pair of pajamas.

Me wearing the pajamas

There’s no crosses or anything, just white bunnies cavorting on a pastel purple background. Very cute, and the cotton fabric is lightweight and good for summer wear.

Bunny Pajama Shirt

I used my favorite pajama pattern, since I know that I like the fit. I think I did a better job of placing the shirt pocket on this iteration than I did on the natural shop coat, and the collar attachment was quite smooth.

Bunny Pajama Pants

I greatly simplified the pants, though. I left out the false fly, which is a nice accent, but serves no functional purpose. I also left out the pockets, which are nice to have sometimes, but rarely used and not worth the added bulk and trouble in my experience. I also did a drawstring waist instead of an elastic waist, but I usually do that.

This project took me about two days worth of work. I’m very happy that this kind of thing is a weekend project for me now.

bookmark_borderNatural Shop Coat

Not so much lately, given the extreme heat we’ve been having, but for much of the Spring I found my blue shop coat to be extraordinarily handy. I’m the kind of person who won’t really leave the house without a jacket or coat of some kind, so a mid-weight, durable chore coat was nice to have. If I’d worn it recently for actual woodworking, it was probably too dusty to wear out in public, though.

I thought it would be handy to have a second shop coat, but I didn’t like any of the other colors of cotton duck cloth that the store had in stock. Blue is a good neutral color, but I didn’t want another blue one, and black is really not my style. I decided to use this “natural” duck cloth.

Shop Coat in Natural Cotton Duck

Sharon points out that the unbleached “natural” color will probably hide sawdust very well. It sure does get wrinkly in the wash, though. That “crumpled paper bag” texture you can see in the photo is not exaggerated by the lighting; that’s what it really looks like.

Also, for some reason I wound up attaching the pockets really low on this one. The upper pockets on the blue coat are up near the first button, but there are down at the second button, about 5 inches lower. The pockets are also larger on this one, so it gives the coat a bottom-heavy appearance. It’s far too late to worry about it now, though. Maybe I will add a pocket or two higher up, or some decorative embroidery.

I also added a button to the left breast pocket. I found that it was very tempting to put my phone in that pocket, but on the blue coat there was always a risk that the phone could slip out and be damaged on the shop floor (like my last two phones were). I should really add a flap or something to the blue coat’s breast pocket.

bookmark_borderCedar Bell Tower

Sharon bought this bell maybe ten years ago up at Pennsic. It was in the basement at the old house, then it was in the garage here at the new house. I have planned, for all this time, to build an enclosure in which to hang this bell, to give Sharon’s garden a Japanese accent piece. Well here it is.

Bell Tower

This belfry, or shourou, is made entirely of cedar, except for the pegs and wedges, which are cypress. The vertical posts are 4-by-4. Cutting all those through-mortises in 4×4 was no picnic, let me tell you. The cross-braces are all 2-by-4. Cutting the large tenons and small securing mortises on those was fun by comparison. The roof is all quarter-inch by 4, which I made by re-sawing 1×4 on the band saw, and then planing it down to remove the saw marks. In spite of the power tools, this was ten 1x4s, and quite a bit of work.

The corner posts are six feet tall, so this is a human-scale project. There’s a ranma panel between the center roof supports that’s made from a single panel of 1-by-6. The bell hangs from this.You can see a cherry-wood mallet sitting on one of the lower cross beams, for striking the bell. The bell is made from a an old SCUBA tank. It has a pleasing sound.

I put about six days of work into this, if you don’t count the trip up to Mars Lumber to buy the cedar. I could pretty much only cut one of the vertical posts per day. I drilled out the mortise holes, the chiselled the corners out of the holes to make square mortises. To keep them square with the faces, I marked both ends of the mortises and went in from both sides to the center. This means that cutting the four large mortises and four small mortises was like cutting 16 mortises on every post. So, one per day. I would only re-saw a few of the 1x4s and cut a few 2x4s each day, too. Spreading out the work made for more variety each day, which was necessary given that I was working out in the garage in 90 degree heat.

When enough pieces were ready, I started assembling the structure. The tenons on the end of the 2x4s were pretty tight in the mortises, and the pegs to secure them had to be hammered in to tighten the joints. once I had the frame assembled, I set it up in the garden and cut the three roof beams. These have notches cut in them to hold them on the posts, and there are hidden construction screws to secure them. I could have gotten fancier with the joinery here, but I did not.

Once all the roof pieces were sawn, planed, and cut to length, it was time to make a roof. The roof pieces are all nailed in place with brads from a nail gun. Strips under the edges of the roof keep the ends of the pieces together, and a cap rail on top secures the top ends of the roof pieces. It’s not waterproof, but it does not need to be.

I’m really happy with the way this project came out. It’s big, but not too big, and very solid. The thin roof provides shade, but doesn’t make the structure too top-heavy. The bell looks great hanging there, and sounds terrific when you strike it. Lamost all of the project went according to plan, so if I need a similar structure someplace else, I know that I can make all the pieces and then construct it on-site with minimal fuss. My ultimate goal is to build a small Japanese-style house on a trailer for camping at Pennsic. This is a good step in that direction.

Two of the 16 pegged corner joints
The center support is pegged to secure it, then wedged to keep it tight and square.
The ranma panel is just inserted into mortises in the center supports.
The view from the driveway

bookmark_borderMeasure and Mark Redux

So what did the little collection of tools on a stool look like at the end of the project?

Bit of a mess

You can see I’ve added a sashigane, a larger ruler, a socket awl and a drilling block. The awl is useful for making a hole where the brad point of a drill bit can go to keep the bit from skating around as the hole gets started. The block keeps the drill bit perpendicular to the surface of the wood as the hole is drilled. The other black plastic thing is a right-angle block.

bookmark_borderAssembling a Sawhorse

I realized that it might be a little mysterious how those sawhorses I made actually fit together. Here are some assembly instructions.

1) Collect the pieces

You’re going to need two feet, two legs, one stretcher, one top, two pegs, and two wedges. The legs have a wide end and a narrow end. The feet have one mortise in their top sides. The top has two mortises in its underside. you’re also going to need a small hammer or mallet.

2) The foot bone is connected to the leg bone

Insert the wide tenon of one leg into the mortise in the top side of one foot. It is very tempting to hammer the top of the narrow tenon, but this may mash it making ti difficult to insert later, so resist the urge.

3) Add ye peg

Use the mallet to hammer a peg all the way through the sideways through-mortise in the foot. These are designed to be drawbores, which means that the mortise in the leg does not line up perfectly with the mortises in the foot. This makes it more difficult to hammer in the peg, but as you do so it draws the joint tighter.

4) Play it again

Repeat those steps to assemble a second leg/foot combo.

5) Add stretcher between legs

Insert the stretcher between the two legs, sliding the tenon at each end of the stretcher entirely through the sideways mortise in each leg. Note that the wide dimension of the 2×4 is vertical. The mortises and tenons are square, so make sure the stretcher isn’t sideways.There’s no “inside” or “outside” to the legs, so whichever way fits better, just go with it.

6) Wedge the stretcher

Insert a wedge into the through mortises that run vertically through the tenons at each end of the stretcher. Hammer these nice and snug, or the resulting horse will be wobbly.

7) Add the top

Slide the top down onto the tenons at the narrow ends of the legs.There should be enough tension in the assembly to hold the top firmly in place once the horse is assembled. If there is too much tension, and the top just won’t go on, remove the wedges to release the tension, add the top, then replace the wedges.

Ta-da! Now do it three more times. You made four, correct?

bookmark_borderMeasure and Mark

I’ve been working on a new large carpentry project, and it involves a bunch of joinery that for some reason I have decided to cut by hand. Everything needs to be measured out and marked, regardless of hand or machine cut, since I almost never trust jigs or templates for this kind of thing. Here’s the kit of measuring and marking tools I have assembled for this particular project.

Tools

So yes, there are three adjustable squares here, so that I don’t have to keep setting and re-setting them for the different lengths I need. The tool right in the middle is called a wheel gauge. You set the length you want, run the large brass bit against the edge of the board, and the little metal wheel at the end cuts a groove in the wood. I do have a Japanese kebiki gauge, but I have a difficult time getting accurate distances with it. The larger aluminum tool next to the wheel gauge is a modern Japanese marking square that is awesome because the large sides let you mark around the corners of lumber, so it’s easier to get straight cuts on 2x4s and other similar pieces. The small metal ruler is very useful for drawing lines between marks, and inserting into small holes as a depth gauge. I mostly mark things out in pencil using the blue 2mm drafting lead holder. but the pocket knife in the upper left is helpful for cutting a groove to start saw cuts, particularly on rip cuts.

bookmark_borderCompleted Daimon Hitatare

I sewed the Daimon Hitatare Sugata some time ago, and added some kotsuyu embellishments and munahimo some weeks ago, but only got around to taking new pictures recently.

Completed Daimon Hitatare
Daimon From the Back

While the scroll I based this outfit on does not show these cords, I feel they are necessary. I am guessing that the scroll does not show them because the warrior in the image was not rich enough to afford them.