First Light L (50)

Final assembly was proceeding well yesterday when about half-way along, wouldn’t you know it, the battery in the camera gave up the ghost. My camera’s power adapter was also broken, so I was left with no way to upload the pictures I had taken, and no means of snapping any more pictures. Dead in the water, so the process had to grind to a halt altogether. This morning a trip to an electronics supply store yielded a generic charger. It looks like the battery is pretty much dead, however it holds enough of a charge to allow me to continue.

So, without any further ado, on with the conclusion of the garden lantern’s final assembly…

Onto the dodai went the housing posts, and the electrical were leads fished up one of the posts:

Since the relish on the post tenons was at the bare minimum (3x peg diameter), I went with Mahogany for the pegs since it is more flexible than the Bloodwood:

The posts fixed, in then could go the grill assemblies, and then I started installing the keta, or wall plate:

Here’s the keta installation completed along with the sub-ridgepole, roof board pairs along with their supporting ribs, and the gegyo (gable pendants)- I’ve moved the lantern into another room so as to have enough ceiling height to facilitate the roof fitting:

The hafū are pre-assembled:

One of the hafū assemblies slides into place on its central pair of draw bars and the lower corner dovetailed draw bars:

That’s a 16″ wide slab of figured Bubinga, about 12′ long, in the background, currently being used as a shelf in our cramped apartment. also visible in the above photo are sets of the Bloodwood hi-uchi-sen, opposed wedging bars that travel across the wall plate corners in a compound slope.

Next, the tapered sliding half-dovetail pins are tapped home – these ensure that the lower roof board is fixed tight to the barge board and serve to reinforce the lower cross-wedged draw bar connection:

A step back for a look at the roof after all the components except for the ridgepole are in place:

Now, the ridgepole slides down into place, simultaneously engaging with the hafū, the draw bars connecting to the sub-ridge, along with the six dovetail tenons found on the ends of the roof ribs:

The very last step of assembly is to tap in the two Bloodwood pegs that fix the upper ridgepole, or muna-gi, in place:

A look to the other side of the muna-gi with the pegs fully in:

This was the original design:

And here is the lantern I produced, complete at long last:

The above image could use a few degrees of rotation, however it’ll have to do for now as I don’t have photoshop.

On with the light, the First Light:

Another view:

I think I’ll play around with a few different light bulbs to see the one I like the best. The current one might be a bit too bright, though I will need to see how it looks out in a garden before deciding. Another option would be to increase the opacity of the glass.

I hope readers have enjoyed this detailed build up of a Japanese garden lantern. It was a prototype, and I feel really pleased with the way it came out. I learned a lot from the design and building process, and have some lessons to bring forward toward the next time I build a lantern like this. I was surprised at how long it took – I certainly didn’t expect to run 50 posts and more than 750 photographs. I hope it hasn’t been overly tedious for the reader at least, though many have expressed encouragement along the way, for which I am deeply grateful.

It occurs to me that it might feel a little weird actually to start blogging about other matters from here on out, however I’ve got more than a few things on my mind that seem to need outlet, so we’ll see what unfolds on upcoming installments of the Carpentry Way.

As always, thanks for coming by, and your comments are always welcome.  Installation series can be found starting here.

7 Replies to “First Light L (50)”

  1. I just came across your weblog from a reference in a comment in the Woodworking Magazine weblog several days ago, and I have to say I've spent all too much time pouring over your posts from the past months. Your attention to detail and appreciation of the 'art' is amirable, and I eagerly await the new topics.

    If I may make a request for future posts, could perhaps dedicate a post detailing the Mongé method of drawing? As an engineer I have experience with technical drafting, but the drawings in your “French Connection” series are all but Greek to me. Perhaps this was covered in a post I overlooked.

    Again, your work is amazing, and I thank you.

  2. Dale and gregore', thanks as always for your warm comments. I've got lots of stuff to blog about yet, so don't worry about that gregore'.

    Daniel, thanks so much for your interest in my blog and for taking the time to read all those past posts. I must admit that reading your comment, “If I may make a request for future posts, could perhaps dedicate a post detailing the Mongé method of drawing?” – I very nearly let out a maniacal laugh! The reason being that it would simply not be possible to give adequate treatment to that topic in a single post, let alone 5 posts. I have about 400 hours into studying that drawing of the Mazerolle tréteau, and won't really know if I've understood perfectly until I have made the piece (coming up soon). And beyond that, I think it would be fair to say that I am not going to be in a position to teach the method until I can make that sawhorse, or a variant of it, without recourse to notes.

    I also have to consider that many readers likely do not find much pleasure in reading dry articles on layout, and to go on for multiple postings about such a topic risks boring a chunk of the audience to tears – well, this is my fear at least. I'm debating how much more layout technicality to cover in this blog as it is – I'll think about about how to bring forward some of that information in my upcoming writings on the making of the Mazerolle tréteau. Thanks for your request.

    I am planning to bring forward a series of instructional essays on Japanese carpentry drawing and layout methods, complete with exams, for sale to the public. For that reason I have deleted past blog posts on certain layout topics and am in the process of re-writing and re-formatting that material. Several people have expressed interest to me in such material, and it would take me closer to my goal of producing a text on the subject.


  3. Hi Chris,

    Congratulations on finishing the lantern build! It has been a fascinating journey. Still not sure if I've taken it all in but plan on reviewing it to catch up on some of the details. Is it possible to consolidate the separate threads as a single entry to make viewing a little more easy?

    I especially enjoyed the detailed coverage of fitting the post to the base. If I understand correctly the post seats on the base rock mainly along the edge with the center slightly raised. I'm curious about how these surfaces settle into each other over time (if indeed they do)? The weight of the lantern doesn't seem like it would force itself down over time but I have seen larger posts of buildings being handled this way in Japanese films and have always wondered about how they seat and wear over time. Also am wondering about how moisture and freezing/ thawing cycles impact this set up? I'd appreciate hearing a little more about this style of building, perhaps as a separate post.

    John Kissel

  4. Hi John,

    thanks for your comment.

    “Is it possible to consolidate the separate threads as a single entry to make viewing a little more easy? “

    Well, if I consolidated all 50 posts into a single entry that would result in in an entry with probably some 200 pages worth of text (on conventional paper) and with nearly 750 photos. So, I suspect that would make viewing more difficult if anything, especially for those readers with slower internet connections. “First Light” almost adds up to a book I guess. sorry it is a little inconvenient to access – that's one of the realities of the blog. take a look to the labels index at page right and there is a heading “Garden lantern build-up” where a click will give you all 50 posts – you could bookmark the linked page and return to it when you liked.

    As for the post to stone connection, the end grain does not compress significantly, nor of course does the stone, so there is no appreciable settling for a long while. Any settling that occurs would be the result of the foundation below the stone sinking, or the bottom of the post starting to rot, which would lead to a degrade of material and some settling.

    Moisture shouldn't affect the connection appreciably so long as there is not an easy path for water to wick up into, and that the stone is sufficiently crowned that water won't sit on it for long. Freeze/thaws should also have minimal effect so long as water can't sit in the space between post and stone. Of course, when installed outdoors, below the foundation stone will be a concrete pier, which extends to below the frost line, and the stone is attached to that concrete piece by the threaded rods and non-shrink grout.

    Since the bottom of any post near the ground is the first thing to rot out, especially in cases where the post is exposed to the weather, it is common practice to repair the lower section of the post with a scarfed piece. Sometimes even scarf joints are used in new construction, as the replacement of these lower pieces every 50~75 years means the rest of the gate structure will last a lot longer. Letting the rot go on for too long means ultimately that the entire post will need replacement, which means also complete dismantlement of the structure, a far more expensive proposition and greater waste.


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