Way back in 2012, I made a regular size karabitsu entirely by hand from cypress 1×12. I developed a set of ratios that enabled me to design a karabitsu based on the width of the wood. The length of the lid is twice the width of the wood, and so on down. Later, I made a small karabitsu out of cypress 1×10, using the same ratios. I decided to make a pair of even smaller karabitsu out of cypress 1×8, planing the wood down to half-inch thickness because I had purchased a planer. I cut all the pieces to length, and started cutting the joinery, but then life intervened. The pieces sat in a box next to my workbench for at least a year. Then we moved. Then the peces sat in a box on my workbench for four years. It was time to complete this project and get these dang things off my workbench.
I cut all the joinery by hand, but I quickly gave up on doing everything by hand. I used a band saw to cut the legs, a router to shape the legs, a sander to smooth out the boxes, and a drill to make holes for the pegs that secure everything. I did decide to use rice paste to assemble the boxes instead of using modern wood glue. I used more hand-mixed blonde shellac for the finish, and now finally these are done.
Here’s an image showing all four karabitsu stacked up, so you can compare sizes:
I don’t know quite what use I had in mind for these when I started them. They might be useful for carrying one person’s worth of fest gear or something. I’ll have to make some braids for them. At least with two of them, they can balance at either ends of a carrying pole.
Going on 13 years ago, I made five white karabitsu to replace the plastic “tucker totes” we had been camping with up until then. They have held up pretty well, all things considered. I sold one of them as surplus, but the remaining four have been camping with us at Pennsic and other events ever since. I did fail to anticipate how often they would get used as seating, however, and the constant flexing of the lids had led to some deteriorations. One of the lids was damaged a few years ago, and repaired, so it was time to extend those repairs to the remaining chests. Here are the lids with their final coat of paint drying.
How to fix karabitsu lids: First, sand all the paint off the top of the lid. Then, cut a rectangle of plywood slightly larger than the top of the lid. Coat the lid with exterior wood glue, and clamp down the rectangle. Once the glue is dry, trim the edges of the wood with a router. Then, round off the corners using a different router bit. Now, it is time for finishing. I did two coats of primer (with Insuladd), three coats of flat white enamel, and two coats of gloss white enamel. That should be enough.
Next year, I’ll repaint the exteriors of the bodies. Some of the corners are looking a little beat-up.
Making a couple of small karabitsu footed chests, and reached the stage of gluing the body of the chest together.
It’s quite possible that if I was just better at cutting joinery, I woould not need quite so many clamps. Also, I’m using rice paste and not carpenter’s wood glue, so it takes hours and hours to dry fully.
Once the paste is dry, I can use pegs to fasten all the joinery, which includes securing the floor of the chest. This is the second of two karabitsu, so later this week I will be able to move on to the sanding phase.