the Carpentry Way: A New Light in Japanese Carpentry                                                          

A New Light in Japanese Carpentry

Regular readers have likely noticed the drawing to the top right corner of this page, indicating the current study group project, a Japanese andon.  

Andon (行灯) are a type of portable floor lantern once common in Japan.

I made my andon out of cocobolo, which I had not worked with very much in the past. To anthropomorphize a bit, I found it an irascible wood. It is prone to warping and breaking - it was so brittle that it would break if you so much as looked at it askance. Given the propensity of this type of rosewood (perhaps all rosewoods) to have internal cracks and checks, and its tendency to tear out when planing, the amount of wood required to form the pieces that ended up in this lantern was on the order of double in some cases. The slender vertical kumiko, 1/4" thick and 5/8" deep, of which I required a dozen sticks, required more than 30 sticks be cut before I had 12 that would behave. And cocobolo is an expensive wood to begin with, so factoring in the waste, one can see that furniture made from this wood would be a pricey proposition.

And on the plus side, the polish obtained is pretty much unmatchable in any other species that is not a rosewood:

I finished the wood with two coats of wiping varnish followed by a wax buffing. As this piece won't be subject to much handling, and the wood itself is hard and dense, I thought that a light finish with wax was fine.

So, yesterday was final assembly, and my wife dropped by and took some video of the process.

Here's the video we came up with after wrestling with Apple's iMovie 11 for a few hours - we're not going to win any film awards but a decent first pass by the post I hope, with some photo stills between the short video clips:

I like the koto, or Japanese zither, and found some short pieces to add as a soundtrack to the above - perhaps it adds a nice atmosphere to the video. Don't worry, this music isn't playing in my shop full time :^)

A couple of pics for those who have a dial up connection and can't watch video online:



The next study group project is going to be a series of Japanese traditional joints. If you're interested in getting involved with the study group, please drop me an email. If you join for 6 months or longer, it's less than $20/month, and it's challenging yet quite possibly rewarding.

Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way. Comments always welcome.