Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Light XLVI

Rolling along - it's hard to believe it, but this lantern build thread could see 50 posts yet, much to my amazement.

One of the dwindling number of remaining tasks I had to deal with was routing the electrical wires up from the next of support pieces underneath the lantern housing to the top of the housing. The light is placed at the top of the housing, as I explained in a previous post, so that any condensation that might accumulate on the metal will not pool but rather drain off. It's likely to therefore drip off the bulb and onto the lantern housing floor and probably make a stain over time, but that's better than an electrical short. The trick was to route the wiring so that it was essentially invisible - one of the things I found unappealing about some of the Japanese lanterns I looked at was the exposed BX cable wiring and electrical boxes - as in this piece, for example:

Having snaked the cable out from the center of the post, and to the side via the Goncalo Alves cap. I then had to find a way to get it up to the top, which mean it had to run up one of the housing posts somehow. First I sketched out the rough outlines of the trench needed in the hijiki top surface and drilled a couple of small holes in from the housing abutment:

The trench I cut freehand with the router and couple of bits. The trench diminishes in width because I have chosen to bring the wires out from their jacket at that point. Then I snaked the bare wires, alongside one another each other through to a corner:

Drawing the wires down and through the end of the hijiki, the arrangement seemed sufficiently tidy:

In the corner, where two of the dodai (sill pieces) met at a mitered housed half-lap joint, I drilled a couple of small holes to allow the wires to transit the joint:

Placing the dodai in place at the lap, I checked to make sure everything would go together, and it did:

Then it was time to place the post and my solution for the post was to combine an open slot, in the middle of the existing lattice frame dado, along with drilled holes at both ends of the piece:

A close up of one side of the post, showing the trench into which the wire press-fits:

The trench snakes a bit as I cut it freehand with the router and in fact I wanted it to weave a little since this helps retain the wire in place much better.

So, the last step with the wires was repeating the process of making holes in the keta lap joint, much the same as for the dodai joint, and the job was done. I'll make a small electrical splice atop the ceiling board, using wire nuts.

Now, one the the last significant matters to deal with was fitting the post of the lantern onto a boulder. Once I had settled on the boulder I was going to use (which turned out to be the one I dragged out of the river across the street) I used a paint-removal wheel on my angle grinder to take the pond scum build-up off the rock, and discovered that the rock was in fact a light color.

Then came time to drill three holes in the rock:

That little Makita 3/8" drill is NOT a hammer drill. I wish it was, for you see I used that drill to do all three holes, each about 5" long - a task which in fact took me about 4 hours. I'll state now and for the record, that when it comes to drilling holes in granite, what you want is a hammer drill. Make no mistake! I was actually well aware of this fact, however the exorbitant rate of $40 the local tool rental place wanted for a half day use of a hammer drill, not including the bit rental, put me off from doing the obviously sensible thing. I decided to, uh, see how far I could get with a $7.00 Bosch drill bit, and, well, I got going and then just kept going until I was done. In the end, I mostly used the drill bit by hand, pounding its end with a hammer and turning, to chip out the rock little by little. I gotta get a hammer drill for next time.

With the holes done, I could slide the all-thread rods into place and plop the post on top:

I used a couple of small wedges to shim the post into a plumb position. Then I got out my Veritas bubble scriber and drew a line around the post:

The line marked, I then sawed off the bulk of the waste:

And then I knifed the pencil line, and chopped around the perimeter of the cut with a chisel to take the material within a millimeter of the line:

Fifteen minutes of chisel work then completes Round 1, the rough cut-out:

That's the 15 pictures or so for today, so I'll catch you next time for the completion of the post-boulder connection.

Thanks for visiting.


  1. This truely has been an enjoyable build to follow. Looking forward to seeing it's first lighting.

  2. Chris, These final stages are really interesting. I like the rhythm you've established w/ the 15 pictures and solid explanations. Especially interesting to see the work fitting the post to the rock base. Don't know a whole lot about Japanese carpentry practices so it's nice to see the steps involved. Keep 'em coming! John Kissel

  3. Chris,
    I enjoy your posts and share your passion.
    could you tell me where can I get the makita beam morticer I'd like to use it for 5/8" pegs? would you reccomend something else?

  4. Yossi,

    I'm not sure where you're located, but the answer to your question is: Japan.

    Hitachi and Ryobi also make portable mortisers, and again, you're only going to find them easily in Japan. If your pieces are smaller and you can bring the wood to the machine, then a stationary mortiser is fine, and there are lots of options from many manufacturers.

    Thanks for your question.



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