bookmark_borderShogi folding stool

I just completed this shogi folding stool that uses a new design. Instead of the ends of the legs fitting into slots in the feet (like in the old design), the legs are joined to the feet using wedged through-tenons with shoulders that curve up around the feet. I also used a new method of sewing the fabric of the seat so that stress on the stitches is lateral instead of longitudinal.

Shogi 2020

The frame is made almost entirely from red oak planks and dowels. You can just about see the walnut wedges that secure the tenons in the mortises. There’s also a respectable amount of glue and filler, but that can be our secret. The hinge axles are brass-plated hinge pins that I custom cut to length and cross drilled to accept brass cotter pins.

I like this design for the shogi because it is more properly medieval, even though I used even more modern machine tools to make it than before. I used a table saw to cut the legs and dowels, and to cut the joinery I used a drill press, band saw, and mortising machine.

bookmark_borderShop Talk

Mr. Arimoto has a large job to deliver a few dozen rustic-looking tables and booths for a new restaurant somewhere out in the suburbs.

I have been helping out in the shop, mostly scraping, sanding, and finishing. Since I have lots of experience doing this kind of thing for fun, it’s good solid work. My days have been spent leaning over one table top at a time, chatting with Mr. Arimoto when noise allows. This does not leave much brain left at the end of the day for composing thoughtful blog posts.

On the other hand, it gives me lots of chances to look at interesting pieces of lumber he has around the shop. Look at this piece of walnut that actually has some walnut inclusions.

Walnut slab with walnut inclusions
Just look at it.

bookmark_borderKunz Glue Scraper

Every once in a while, somebody lends you a tool to use, and using that tool elicits the reaction, “Where has this tool been my entire life?” Such a tool is the Kunz Glue Scraper .

Photo courtesy of Highland Woodworking

“This is not,” as I said to Mr. Arimoto, “a tool for delicate work.” When you’re gluing wood together, a certain amount of glue “squeeze” out is all but inevitable. You can swab it, you can sand it, you can plane it, or you can cry about it. The right glue scraper, used over a beefy enough work piece, makes the glue chips fly away from your work piece. This long two-handed handle and thick, sharp, steel double-edged blade makes short shrift of your squeeze scraping. This tool means business.

bookmark_borderArimoto Bannister

I spent some time yesterday and today helping Mr. Arimoto install a bannister and railing that he’d made for a client.

Lowest end of the bannister

Tadao cut and shaped the pieces from walnut, and finished them with Osmo Polyx oil finish. We spent about ten hours total getting everything cut to fit, installed, and touched up.

He didn’t make the metal balustrade, so we had to adjust everything to fit somebody’s else’s work. It was a good exercise in the difference between theory and practice, or between design and execution.

bookmark_borderTest Cutting

I spent a bunch of time today buying a new band saw blade and setting up machines so I could make some test cuts on scrap wood to prototype some interesting joinery for a new folding stool design.

mortise and tenon
New Shogi Joinery

How do you join a 1.25″ wide board perpendicular to a 1.25″ dowel? It takes a forstner bit, a band saw, and a mortising machine. I’m pretty excited to see how this works out on an actual project.

bookmark_borderArmrest Coaster

Some months ago, we got a new sofa and comfy chair for the den. These pieces are very rectangular, and go nicely with the Mid-Century Modern look of the den, but it’s very tempting to rest your drink on the armrest while you’re sitting in them, which would be unwise since that drink is likely to sweat or spill onto the upholstery. I’ve seen little table-like structures that sit on the arm of a couch, and I figured, “I am a woodworker, and I don’t need to pay those prices for somebody else to make this for me.” Behold!

Coaster, armrest-type, from walnut
Walnut Armrest Coaster

I had a walnut board in the garage, left over from some project long ago. The corners are miter-cut, and I managed to keep track of the pieces well enough that you can see the grain flow around the bend. The corner joinery is reinforced with splines, also from walnut). You can see that I had a difficult time getting all this glued up, because of the blotches in the linseed oil finish.

This was a pretty-good fast project, only taking a few hours over the weekend. I may wind up making a couple more of these.

bookmark_borderAshiuchidai v1.1

An ashiuchidai is a piece of braiding equipment used when braiding long loop braids. If the material is too long, it’s impossible to pull the “stitches” tight by spreading your hands apart. The ashiuchidai provides a fixed point to hold the braid up where you can work it easily, and a beater bar that can be activated by tugging on a string. The string can be tied to your toe so that moving your foot taps the stitches into place while your hands braid.

I made this ashiuchidai back in June of last year, but I recently added some features to it to improve its performance. There are two stabilizers that keep the beater bar centered and straight on the axle (only one is visible in the photo), and five brass pins added to the beater (visible as the dark dots on the back ot the blade just below the tip) as counterweight. Despite my best efforts, the beater could still get stuck in the “up and in the way” position, and this counter-weighting makes it much more likely that the beater will fall back out of the way.

Ashiuchidai version 1.1
Ashiuchidai v1.1

I still have to try it out! I haven’t made the “helping-hands” that allow you to put down the loops while you’re loop braiding, so trying out the ashiuchidai means devoting a block of time to completing a braid that is pretty long.

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.