I have been lurking here a while and I think "the wreck" will be
wonderfully useful for me... once I know enough to use the right words.
At the moment my tools are mostly doohickeys, thingies, and
I would like to make a maru dai (braiding stand). I name it on the
off-chance that there's someone here from the fiber arts community, who
will know exactly what I need! The trick is, the working surface needs
to be smooth enough not to catch or abrade fine threads, yet it should
not be slickery-slippery (it really needs enough friction to keep the
threads from sliding around).
I'm starting with pine (go with what you know, and that's all I've
worked with so far) and hope to move to hardwoods once I get the hang of
this. I'd like to use some finish both for cosmetic reasons (finished
wood just looks nicer) and to provide a little protection for the wood.
What are my finishing options, for a smoothed but not slick or slippery
Only know that there is no spork.
On Wed, 03 Nov 2004 10:58:31 -0600, Elizabeth Naime
You should try using beech instead. There are some other woods you
could use instead, but beech is excellent, cheap, easy to find, easy
to work and traditional. Pine is awkward to work with - it's a
"coarse" timber, so hard to make anything precise with it.
One useful source of beech in an emergency is kitchen tools ! Most of
your wooden spoons (certainly in Europe) are made of beech, and it
wouldn't be the first one that I've cannibalised to make something
Your topcoat needs to be wax, and re-waxed occasionally. Underneath
this you might use oil, or you might just wax from scratch. Best
thing is a can of commercial finishing oil and a tin of commercial
wax. I use Liberon's range.
If you have an interest in woodturning, then turned wooden spindle and
round tenons are the traditional way to build thread and fabric
handling tools. It's also a good way to get a smooth and gently curved
snag-free finish. Apart from a lathe, it doesn't need much equipment
Hi, Andy, and thanks for responding!
Where might I find beech? Right now I need pieces a little more than
3.5" square, or boards from which they can be cut; 3.5" rounds in 1X
pine have weighted out just about right for wool spindle whorls. I
haven't gotten off paper and into wood with the braiding stand designs,
but I'm leaning towards a 10" radius or slightly less for the top of the
stand. Maybe larger later on; I braid on a stand whose mirror (top) is
significantly less than this, and know it will work better if a bit
larger. I'll have to get one completely finished and then braid on it
for a while to really get an idea of what the best size will be.
Pine may be awkward, but it is what I have lying around. Wooden spoons
wouldn't give me much more than a potential spindle shaft, for which my
first efforts have used oak dowels.
A lathe (and room to set it and some other tools up) is definitely on my
wish list, but isn't possible yet. Trust me, when I get within reach of
one, I'll be posting "how do I start learning to use a lathe" messages
left and right!
I have read enough of the group to realize that "the Borg" is not the
best place to get good wood, but I've only just started looking for
other local sources. Although I do have a downed maple tree that is
going to be cut into "slices" with a chain saw, but I expect it will
have to cure before use. (Won't it?) Are sawmills and furniture shops my
best bet for pieces smaller than "a bunch of boards" but larger than
The traditional wood for a maru dai is, I believe, maple. And this is
way in the future, but, I would love to make some things with osage
orange (aka hedge, hedge apple, bois d'arc) someday. It has a beautiful
color at least when fresh or in the first year or so, and in the very
few instances I've seen it actually used as lumber, it seems to age into
a pretty nearly indestructable material. I'm guessing that the extreme
hardness when very well cured (and the fact that the only place I can
think of to get it is to saw down some firewood) makes it an Advanced
Since I've got eleven pine spindle whorls cut and enough oak dowelling
to use with them, I will probably continue this first "batch" with those
materials. But, I'm very open to ideas about where to go next, and I'll
do some hunting around for braiding-stand sized chunks of beech.
Only know that there is no spork.
On Wed, 03 Nov 2004 20:41:15 -0600, Elizabeth Naime
Europe ! Thinking about it, this might not be the best choice for
you. I've no experience of US beech, but I seem to remember that US
beech isn't much good (like trying to find decent maple in the UK).
Your best US choice might be maple.
Avoid pine. Pine is hard to work with, because it's just too flimsy
to really shape well. Something that's a bit _firmer_ is just more
predictable. You also need a hard, smooth surface which isn't
something you can get with pine.
I don't know where best to buy timber in your area. Small timberyards
are best, but I think there are some smaller chains near you that are
reasonable. The real "big shed" Borgs though are indeed useless.
I've just realised where I'd heard of a maru dai before - it's for
making kumihimo. Yet another craft I've been meaning to learn. I sew
Japanese clothing and I've been looking for braid sources. I also
restore swords, which includes re-wrapping their hilts. Ito (silk
braid) for doing this is an insane price ($25/metre) and I'd like to
try weaving some of my own.
So, I think three maru dai are going to be made soon ! One for me,
two for weaver / rug maker friends.
This is definitely a wood turning project. The "mirror" needs a smooth
rounded edge, that funnel shape to the centre and a sharp edge to it
to act as a thread brake. Although you could easily make one with
just a jigsawn or coping saw sawn disk, it would be a tedious job to
form the edges by hand. Making tama would also be a perfect excuse
for turning - it's also a chance to fool around with small pieces of
dense exotic timbers.
So you need a lathe. How are you fixed for woodturners, or woodturning
classes ? Turning is an interesting occupation (I'm no turner). It's
pretty much useless these days (there are only so many wooden bowls
you really need in your life), yet it's an extremely pleasant craft to
actually practice. So most woodturners spend their time puzzling over
what to make next - they've done all the obvious or useful stuff, and
before long they're banging out "treen" - an invented word for what's
effectively doodling with a lathe.
In the meantime, I think you should just make a maru dai out of
anything you have to hand. Use something tight-grained for the mirror,
sand it through the stages (80 grit, 120, 180, 240) and then wax
finish it. Beech, maple, pretty much any decent fine-grained
hardwood. Don't worry if it's any good - it's not hard to make, and
the important thing is to do one first. Then when you get the chance,
take what you've learned and make another by turning.
Um. I have a downed Maple tree; if I had paid more attention I could
tell you the species. Brought down in a storm and cut down from there,
and though I haven't cut it up yet, there's reason to believe it's not
Since I'm doing round things right now, I have thought that disks cut
from this tree might be interesting to work with. I know the very center
of a tree is often weak or even hollow, but I can see both spindle
whorls and maru dai mirrors with the grain going round and round rather
than to and fro. What do you think? And, how might I treat the wood
before putting it to use? No, I'm not assuming I'll take the chain saw
to the tree on Saturday and start using the wood on Sunday. ;-)
Woo hoo! As I slowly find myself showing the symptoms of carpentry
addiction, I can take comfort in the certain knowledge that you will
find yourself becoming a fiber nut. Kumihimo on a maru dai is one of the
most relaxing and mesmerising things you can do with string! There are
more portable techniques using rigid disks with slots for the threads,
but these never did much for me. You are going to LOVE kumihimo.
Yes and no. I have one just as described (below the very workmanlike
mirror it deteriorates, using ridiculously thin softwood dowels for
legs) and indeed that configuration is traditional and works
wonderfully. I also have an ordinary stool into which I cut a hole, and
did some emergency sanding on; and surprisingly, it also serves the
purpose very well. Although the relatively wide funnel seems ideal and
is what I want to make in the long term, I think a more perfunctory
funnel might be quite usable.
Then again, I am thinking that without a lathe, it's a good thing that I
don't mind sanding. Lots of sanding. Enough to actually do some
Tama, indeed, cry out for a lathe. So much so that I don't plan on
making any until I do have one. I'm willing to work around quite a lot
of obstacles, but that would really be too much.
There is a major woodworking supply store a little more distant than I'd
care to travel daily, but within reach for classes; does anyone
recognize the name "Woodcrafters?" I think that's the name of it and I'm
pretty sure it is a chain. I hadn't thought of them. I suppose at 41
they won't let me sit in on high school shop classes...
Indeed if I continue making fiber equipment, I may be in the interesting
position of having a LOT of things I can do with a lathe. One can never
have too many knitting needles or crochet hooks, either, and aside from
the final shaping of the hook on the latter, these also cry out for a
lathe. The more specialized knitting and fiber craft stores carry
commercially made needles and hooks with ornamental bits on the
non-working end that to my eye MUST have been made on a lathe.
I may even "have" a lathe; I'm not sure. My father had a hobbyist's wood
shop since I was a kid; I wish he were still around to take lessons
from. After his death several years ago, I asked my mother if she could
keep his tools and equipment, against a future date when I would
actually have space to set up. I don't know if he had a lathe but I know
he did some woodturning, so there is a good possibility that there is a
lathe (doubtless out of date but likely a good one nonetheless, Dad
loved good tools). Hence my thinking about where and how to learn -- I
may be able to get the equipment, but I doubt using a lathe is as simple
and straightforward as using a drill press.
Trouble is, I don't yet have the space. For the first time since I made
the request, having the space is actually in sight as a possibility,
perhaps even a bit before the new year! I am determined to bang out a
few things the hard way before then, though, having promised a new
kumihimo convert that I'd find a maru dai she could use and having
people interested in simple spindles.
Thanks! That's sort of where I am on the spindles -- I learned so much
from the horribly-balanced few that I made at first, and after using a
drill press to get this last pine batch done I think I'll have learned
all I can from pine and be ready to start all over again on better wood.
Actually... I have, recently enough to know I wasn't getting a good
deal, gotten a little bit of red oak from a "borg" (Home Depot, who will
sell shorter boards that may still be ridiculously expensive but which I
can afford to invest in for a small project like this). It's not that
fine grained, though. I have been thinking, from all the anti-pine
messages I've been reading, if I should skip the "try it on a cheap pine
one-by that's lying around already" and just use the oak for my first
Only know that there is no spork.
On Thu, 04 Nov 2004 22:58:38 -0600, Elizabeth Naime
Timber doesn't store well as logs. Get it sawn, and get it sawn
quickly (or maybe store it submerged, if you have the space and a
suitable lake / pond)
Disks are, generally speaking, no use. You can't dry a disk - they
get radial cracks (this is a complex subject, but Googling this ng
ought to show better explanations)
However in one case you _can_ dry a disk successfully - if you take an
inch or two hole out of the central pith. Reducing the "solid radius"
of your disk reduces the forces generated during shrinking and makes
it possible for a dried disk to remain stable and not split.
I'd suggest that you treat this tree as a separate problem from your
maru dai though. "A year an inch" is the usual rule of thumb for
drying timber, and this applies whether you saw to boards and dry
them, or if you turn the piece green and then dry it. Get it sawn,
stickered and stored under cover, then ignore it for two years.
I already have a cat. No shortage of string-based amusements.
Lace bobbins are what I usually think of here - I think they're made
different to code the individual threads. There's a whole sub-division
of woodturning that uses tiny lathes, tiny tools and produces pens,
lace bobbins and the like. It's a good way to handle expensive exotic
timbers, or to use up offcuts from bigger projects.
I'd still be cautious with oak. Now American white oak is softer than
I'm used to, but it's still a hard and somewhat brittle timber. I
wouldn't want to make thread-handling equipment from it.
Timber is cheap, it just costs a lot if you go to the wrong place.
Right now I'd use hornbeam (a lovely turning wood), because I have a
carload that came from a friend's garden. More good timber than I can
store, and it didn't cost me a penny. For small work you can even use
things like fruitwood (apple or pear) or boxwood (hedges) from garden
clearances. There's a lot of timber around if you ask the people who
handle it regularly. A friend of mine is a gardener and he's always
shifting truckload of old hedges or small bushes - not much is useful,
but it's usually lovely tight-grained timber for small turned pieces.
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