I just completed another lantern for the “six lanterns” project. The frame of this one is made out of mulberry wood. I had a small plank of this that Mr. Arimoto gave to me probably about seven years ago, and it seemed like a good project to use it on.
Of course, with the paper on it like that, you can barely see any of the wood. The fibers in this plank were very rough and wavy, but in the places where my plane got a good shaving, the surface is super-nice.
I rough-milled the sticks from the plank using my band saw, then hand planed them down to 3/4″ square rods. There really wasn’t enough wood in the plank to make it entirely from mulberry. To compensate, I made some of the stretchers a little shorter than normal, and used dowel joinery instead of my usual mortise and tenon joinery. This was a little easier, since it meant cutting short lengths of dowel instead of cutting 16 tenons, but it meant drilling twice as many mortises, half of them into the ends of stretchers. I could not have done it without my drill press.
I’ve only made three of these lanterns so far, but I intend to make six, so eventually I will need something to transport and store them all in, or they are going to get pretty beat up. So, another box.
This was also yet another exercise in using up surplus materials from other projects. I wound up having to use a piece of MDF for the lid, because that was the biggest piece of anything I had left. The edges are off-cut from 2-by-4 lumber from when I was making pole by cutting square pieces from 2-by-4. It awfully satisfying to use up some of that stuff.
You can see that the extra height of the lid makes it easy to get the lanterns in and out of the box. There’s an extra half inch in each direction, so the lanterns fit snugly but not tightly.
The whole thing is finished on the outside with spar polyurethane, especially the MDF on the lid, to give it a little more water resistance than a cardboard box. I glued some blocks of wood to the bottom to serve as feet, so it won’t be resting entirely in any puddles.
Basically, the whole thing is constructed with glue and nails form the nail gun. The bottom is thicker plywood to make it bottom-heavy, and the rim on the body both supports the lid and reinforces the corners of the box. This is a design and method I’ve used before with some success.
A lot of the sizing of pieces can be done while you’re building. For instance, I make the body of the box, then I measure the outside of the top before cutting the pieces for the lid. That way the lid is sized to fit the actual box, and not just my best hope.
The whole thing is kind of rough, because it’s not supposed to be anything special. You can see in the photos that I didn’t even sand off the mill markings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.