bookmark_borderCherry Andon Lamp

An andon is a type of Japanese lantern that is usually used indoors by people who are seated on the floor. I think that, technically, any “framed paper” lantern is an andon, but the word is most often used to refer to the floor-standing version. That may be because most hanging lanterns you see are the collapsible paper chochin type.

I’ve been wanting to make a tall, floor standing andon for about five years, and took the opportunity to cut pieces for this one when I was preparing materials for the Cherry Solar Flicker Lantern project.

Andon, from cherry

This andon is about 34 inches tall and 7.5 inches deep/wide. It’s made from cherry. To keep it from being tippy, the base is a solid block of cherry two inches thick. It uses a different lighting system than the hanging lanterns. This one is designed to suspend a NEBO Tools “BIG Poppy” lantern inside.

The view inside

Here you can see how the Poppy is suspended from the diagonal crossbeam. This is also a better view of the handle. I cut the through-mortise into a rectangular block first, then cut the curved handle from that block. You can also see the seam where the paper is taped closed at the front corner. Even in the light it doesn’t look bad.

bookmark_borderCherry Solar Flicker Lantern

This is the third lantern in a series of at least six. This simple Japanese frame lantern is made from some Western Pennsylvania cherry lumber that I bought a bunch of years ago and am still working scraps out of. It follows the same design as the Oak Solar Flicker Lantern and Maple Solar Flicker Lantern before it.

Lantern in cherry

I have a new method for applying the paper that I think yields a much tighter and smoother result. I’m using Warlon Taf-Top shoji paper, so I can’t just dampen the paper to shrink it. Unless the lantern is perfectly square, wrapping a correctly-sized strip of paper around it leaves wrinkles or bulges. Instead, I cut the paper oversized, apply it to the lantern, then trim the paper down so that it is perfectly straight and flat. It watses a bit more paper, but I think it is more attractive.

The shoji in the background were made about a decade ago, and are made from cedar. I bought the bunny painting from an antique store.

bookmark_borderBlock Printed Tenugui

In discussion within Clan Yama Kaminari, we thought it would be nice to have some tenugui hand towels printed with the Clan mon. I already had the printing block cut, so It was only a couple days’ work to make two dozen of these.

Cotton hand towels printed with the mark of Clan Yama Kaminari

Each tenugui is a yard long and about 15 inches wide. I used cotton muslin because it was on sale at the fabric store. Typically, tenugui use a looser weave of cotton.

I did a rolled edge on each rectangle using the serger to keep them from fraying. Tenugui made with traditional fabric have selvedges at the proper width, and the ends are just left to fray. If I buy tenugui, I usually hem them myself.

The mon is block-printed at each end, centered in the width of the fabric, using Jacquard Textile Color in “Ruby Red”. This pigment yields a good solid color, without changing the texture the way paint would, or bleeding along the fibers the way dye would.

bookmark_borderMaple Solar Flicker Lantern

Following on the heels of my Oak Solar Flicker Lantern, is this almost identical lantern made from maple.

Lantern in maple, with solar flicker lighting unit

I eventually need to make a half dozen or so of these, so I might as well use them as a study in materials.

Lantern at night, hanging in the shorou

bookmark_borderWhite Kosode 2020

I had meant to leave this year’s white kosode half-finished, so I could use it as a demonstrator for a class I was going to teach at Pennsic on kosode construction. Instead of leaving it to fester while we’re waiting to see if there will be a Pennsic next year, I decided to complete it so that I could wear it if we ever happen to have an SCA event ever again.

Gosh that all sounds pessimistic, I know, but there it is. Really, I’m much more optimistic about the future of the SCA than that. I think we will have to reconsider what makes an event and how we run them, but I’m sure we will have events in the future. They might just be very different from the kind of events we’ve had in the past, though.

Anyway, this year’s kosode, in white ramie. I’ve already made two kosode from the white ramie I ordered a couple of years ago. When it became time to make my 2020 kosode, I thought about getting some new fabric, but I realized I still had plenty of this terrific 150 gram ramie linen from Morex Fabrics, so why not use it? The pattern is my standard men’s kosode method, starting from 14.5″ panels. For my technically-minded friends, I continue to use half-panel overlaps and three-layer collars.

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_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_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.

bookmark_borderMid-Height Japanese Sawhorses

Some years ago, I made a pair of low Japanese sawhorses for my workshop. They’ve been great, and very useful (mostly for keeping lumber off the floor in the garage), but it was time to take the next step up. My rickety western sawhorses spend most of their time itting outside in the rain and snow, so they are not in very good shape. A set of mid-height Japanese sawhorses would be nice to have, because they are designed to break down into pieces for transport and storage.

Sawhorses Four

These sawhorses are about 24 inches tall, 24 inches long, and 22 inches wide at the feet. This height is just short enough that I can put my knee on a board to hold it while sawing, but tall enough that I don’t need to worry about scraping my saw along the ground. All the joinery is mortise and tenon, and there is no metal hardware in anything.

They are made almost entirely from pine. Given their modest stature, I could cut all four horses from three 4×4’s, two 2×6’s, and one 2×4. This means that there is only about forty dollars of material in the whole set. The pegs that secure the feet to the legs and the wedges that secure the legs to the stretchers are made from some surplus walnut I had in the shop. It’s always best to make the fasteners from wood that’s harder than the wood it is securing, but maybe walnut was an extravagant choice.

I wanted to make these from cedar instead of pine, but it turns out that these days cedar is five times as expensive as pine. It used to be only twice as expensive as pine. My next big woodworking project is going to cost me $500 instead of $100 for the lumber alone. Gasp.

I cut all the pieces to length by hand, but I used the mortising machine to cut nearly all of the mortises, and the band saw to cut nearly all of the tenons. I smoothed the walnut fasteners with a hand plane, though. After completing all of the shaping and joining, it took me about three hours with the orbital sander to clean everything up and remove most of the saw marks.

When taken apart, I can fit all the pieces for three horses into a single large (27 gallon) storage tote. This means that in the winter I can put the horses away in the garden shed instead of having them sit outside like the old ones.

Four Sawhorses

bookmark_borderTachi Kake

The tachi is a type of Japanese sword that is similar to a katana, but it is worn differently, has different fittings, and is usually used as a more of a formal/ceremonial sword compared to a warrior’s katana. I bought a small tachi as part of my mission to recreate a full bunkan sokutai.

When not in being worn or in storage, the tachi would have been displayed nearby the bearer in a vertical stand called a tachi kake. These are readily available to buy, both as new items and antiques, but of course I wanted to make one myself. I was able to settle on a design, and I still have an excess of surplus wood in the garage.

Tachi Kake Before Finishing

Here’s what it looks like after cutting and shaping, but before finishing. It’s a little easier to see the shapes of the pieces. This is all pine lumber. The upright and the bracket at the top are just 3/4″ thick cut from 1by. The brace at the bottom of the upright is 1/2″ thick pine I had around; most of the examples I see online are only 1/4″ thick. The base is cut from some surplus 2by, to keep it bottom-heavy when unoccupied. The brace is fitted in a slot that I cut all the way through the upright. Tenons at either end of the upright fit into through-mortises for ease of assembly and disassembly.

All told, this item is about 26 inches tall when fully assembled. The tapering curve on the upright piece is one of my favorite shapes ever. I did almost all of the cutting on the band saw, though, because it made things like this curve so much faster to make. I also used a router to bevel and round over all the edges on all the pieces to give it a softer look.

Tachi Kake After Finishing

Here it is after about a half-dozen coats of black-tinted polyurethane. This stuff makes a good affordable lacquer substitute, and it dries in hours instead of weeks. I sanded the finish between every couple coats, but it still needs some final polishing. I also want to add some embellishment like I did for the kyousoku arm rest, but that might not happen until autumn.

For a better sense of scale, here’s another picture of the tachi kake before finishing, with my ko-tachi in the stand like it is supposed to be:

Unfinished Tachi Kake with sheathed Tachi