How to make a Kendama

Kendama is an old japanese toy similar to a cup-and-ball game. The principle of these toys are to catch one object with another where both  are joined by a string. The original kendama is made out of hard wood to ensure the ball is heavy enough to provide the right balanace during the game.

The toy has three parts:

  • the main body called ken
  • the middle cone part called sarado
  • the ball called tama

In this post I’ll show you how to turn a kendama using segmented wood on the lathe.

To prepare the segmented wood I’ve glued together 10 piece of 6mm thick ash and walnut slices and let them dry for 24 hours.

The diameter of kendama ball has to be 60 mm, so I’ve turned a 60 mm diameter and 65 mm long cylinder. To turn the ball I’ve used an inexpensive homemade jig made of a large cylinder which has a 60 mm conical hole in the center so it can fit my 60mm cylinder.

Once the cylinder is secured in the jig you have to mark the equator using a compass. This is a key step which will lead you to a perfect sphere so don’t skip it.

Using a bowl gouge chisel round the edges and try to make an “approximate” semi-sphere, then invert the work piece and repeat the step for the other half.

Now that the ball is almost a sphere turn the ball with 90 degrees and ensure the equator line is on the rotation ax. Repeat this step until you reach a perfect sphere.

The ball is ready so let’s move to the rest of the parts.

Making the handle (aka. ken) is plain lathe turning technique, nothing fancy.

The middle part is easy as well, just pay attention to the right sizing. You need to have one “small” and one “big cup”.

After assembling all  the pieces the Kendama is ready !

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Amazing wood cup pads

Hi !

Back in December I’ve bought my first CNC machine and I’m very product to publish this post to show what I’ve realized until now. I’m new to the CNC word so it took a while to get familiar with the basics.

Introduction to the CNC world

Before I jump to the project I’d like to write a few words about the CNC.

For those who has no idea about what is a CNC here is a short description:

The CNC (Computer Numerical Control) is one in which functions and motions of a machine tool are controlled by a computer software.

My CNC is Chinese model, CNC 6040Z-S80 with 4 axis. This is not a professional machine but until now I’m quite impressed about its performance and accuracy.


The cup pad project

In this project I’ll illustrate how to create engraved wood cup pads. The design is created in a CAD soft which then is converted into a CNC machine language, called G-code. The G-code is  processed by Mach3 software which commands the CNC controller to executes the cuts.

For the stock material I’ve used 12cm wide and 8mm thick beech wood left over from my coffee table project.

 Step1: CAD design

I’m using Vectric Aspire 8 CAD software to create the design. After setting up the work piece size I’ve drawn a 10 cm diameter circle followed by the smaller inner circle, the text and image. The image has to be vector image otherwise the machine will not be able to perform the cut. I’ve took the image from google (“linear drawing” filter must be on) then converted it to vector in Aspire.


Step2: Execution

In term of execution, there is not much to say. Just secure the work piece and run the software to perform the cuts.

After rounding the edges and sanding, I’ve applied two coats of danish finishing oil.


Here we are, the pads are ready.

PS: in case if your are interested in the CAD or G-code files, just drop me a not, I’m happy to share…


Living Room Coffee Table

Hello everyone!

I’ve been a bit lazy in the new year and I haven’t posted any new article since December. The truth is that I’ve been working on multiple projects in parallel and I had to wait to finish all of them to put together the posts.

This post is about a coffee table for the living room made out of hard wood (beech). I’ve never built a table, not event from soft wood, so it’s was quite a bit of challenge to work with hard wood.

I had some beech lumber in the workshop so it was just perfect for this job.

stock material

Table Specification:  L x W x H: 140 cm x 75 cm x 50 cm.

Making the table top

To make the table top I’ve used 1.8 cm thick lumbers and glued them with a tongue and groove joint. The key is to press them very hard while the glue dries.

Once the top was ready I focused on the table margins. The margins were 3.5 – 4 cm thick to create the illusion that the entire top is thick and massive.

To mount the margins I’ve did a groove of a 1.8 cm depth, this way I could easily glue everything together.

To finish the top, I’ve did repeated sanding with different grits: 60 , 80, 100 , 120.

I’ve started with the belt-sander  and finished with the random orbit sander to obtain a clean and smooth finish.

 Making the table legs

The table is quite short (~50 cm) so the legs so don’t need any bottom reinforcement. I’ve decided to make some rectangle legs opposed to the rounded legs, it gives a modern look.

To join the legs a I’ve made a frame using mortise and tenon joint. I’ve my pantorouter (How to build a wood pantorouter) to cut the tenon and mortise.

Once the tenon and mortise slots were cut I’ve glued them together in two steps for a  better result. It’s important to check the square before securing the glue pieces.

Finishing the table

We are at the finishing phase, both the top and the legs are ready. The next step is to stain the wood an apply 3 coat of varnish.

Staining the table:

After applying the varnish:

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… and here we are, the table is living room and ready to be used  !

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Garage tool cabinet

This post illustrates how to build a cabinet with 7 drawers to holds your tools in the garage. However this is not an indoor project, I’ve tried to use different joint techniques to practice the joinery.

I had some leftover pine wood in the garage corner which was just perfect for this job. The idea behind the cabinet was to build a pine wood frame and to use some 6 mm MDF for the sides and the back.

To build the frame I’ve decided to try out the below joinery:

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To get to this, first I did the dowetail joinery using and dowetail template followed by the tenon and mortise joint using my custom-made pantorouter (more details can be found here).

After finishing all pieces I’ve got everything ready to be assembled for the frame. But, before gluing the frame, I’ve cut a grove on the router table to lock the 6 mm MDF sides. This way the MDF will be secured inside the frame without the need of nails or screws.

Building the drawers

To build the drawers I’ve picked to use lap joint. I’ve never tried this type of joint before so it was just a good opportunity to exercise. I’ve already got from a older project the router jig, so I just had to use it.

To attach the bottom of the drawers I’ve cut a 3 mm grove on the circular saw table to accommodate a 3 mm thick MDF.

For the drawer pulls I’ve decided to make something quick so I’ve used a cove router bit to cut a concave edge then I’ve cut it ~10 cm length.

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Now, that all bits  are ready we can glue toegheter all the pieces.

I’ve almost forgot one important part ! I decided not to use any hardware because it’s expensive and probably not worth to invest to buy 7 sliders hardware in a garage cabinet. To build the drawer slider I’ve followed the tongue and groove joint principle so I’ve cut a groove on each side and mounted the “tongue” to the frame.

We are done! This is the final product. I hope you’ve found it useful.

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Kitchen knife block

I haven’t posted for a while, so now it’s time to get back in business.

Recently I’ve bought a set 15 knifes and I was thinking that a nice knife block would be just perfect to put  them in the spotlight.

As you could guess already, the today’s topic is about building a wooden knife block using hard wood. I’ve no experience in building stuff from hardwood, but everything has a start, so I’ve decided to give it a try.

I had available a couple of beech lumber so this is what I’ve used.

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After cutting the pieces to the aproximate length I’ve used the table saw to make the groved. It’s crucial to measure the height of each knife in order to get the right depth of the grooves. (as you can see on the right I have a large knife compared to the rest). On the left, I’ll place a knife sharpener so it’s enought to make a hole.


The groove on the right has to hold a quite large knife and the height of the wood is not enough, so I’ve glued a different piece. After a bit of sanding I’ll get to the picture on the right.


Repeating the same procedure I’ve added a second layer to hold 5 more knifes.

Afer I’ve glued toegehter this two layers  I’ve used the router table to round down the edges.

For the bottom piece I’ve used a smaller piece of wood, this part will hold just three items: two knifes and one scissor.

To finish I’ve applied three coat of wax.

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Folding sawhorse

Hey chaps!

In this post I’ll make some a pair of folding sawhorse. It’s very useful in the garage or outside in the yard and if you do not need them you can just fold them and store behind the shelf.

Here is the design, it’s pretty simple, but the key is the mortise and tenon join which holds tight all the pieces.

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sizing: 90 cm  (height) x 60 cm (width)

Tenon & Mortise joint

To ensure the wood join is strong and will resist to the pressure I’d used the tenon and mortise joint to create the frame.

A couple of months ago I’ve build a pantorouter  (based on the plan purchased from here) which is just perfect for this job. Until now I haven’t had the opportunity to use it properly in a real project so this will be the first time I’m creating a tenon and mortise joint for good.  The pantorouter  principal follows the pantograph mechanism with a router in it. Basically it’s used to route shapes from 2x sized templates. If you are new to this topic just search through the internet or follow the link I’ve provided.

Calibrating the mortise and tenon templates takes a while but once it’s done you can replicate the same work piece over and over again.

Cutting the tenon

Cutting the mortise

Once the tenons and mortises are ready, you just simply have to glue all pieces together.

To join the two legs I’ve used a two hinges. I’ve also mounted a chain between the legs to limit the opening angle.




The roller furler

My next project was a roller furler. A friend of mine needed one for his kayak – a Wayland folding kayak that uses Klepper S4 sails. A roller furler is used to furl (roll up) the jib sail (the sail placed ahead of the mast). Even though it may seem rather unimportant, this is an essential piece of equipment. Precisely because of that, it tends to be rather expensive if bought ready-made.

I used this site as my starting point. However, the furler I made consisted of a one-piece wooden spool (instead of three pieces glued together) fitted inside a plastic cover. Also, the furler was much smaller in size, perhaps two times smaller, than the one I used as inspiration.

1. Making the spool

Shaping the wood 

The spool (around which is wound the line that furls the jib) was made of beech wood. I used the lathe and various chisels to remove the bark from the log and then to shape it.

Beech wood logIMG_20151010_173846IMG_20151010_175421



The finished spool

The finished spool had a height of 4 cm and a 7 cm diameter, a 0.5 cm margin and a 2 cm inset to allow approximately 20 spins of the line.

Drilling the holes

On the lathe I drilled a 4 mm hole in the middle of the spool, then I turned to the vertical drill to drill additional holes on either side of the central one, and another smaller hole for the stop knot of the furling line.

The finished spoolIMG_20151010_183558

Wood treatment

I applied a coating of regular oil and, on top of that, a waterproof coating.


Fitting metal parts:

I fitted a U-bolt through the holes on either side of the spool’s central hole. Since the original U-bolt was too wide, I first narrowed it down on a vise so that it would fit inside the holes.


2. Making the plastic cover (drum)

I made the drum from a plastic cap with a diameter of 7.5 cm.

I drilled several 1.5 cm holes on the side of the drum using a hammer drill (not as easy as expected – it was a pretty tough PVC; maybe the fact that I used a wood hammer drill had also something to do with it). Another hole was drilled in the centre of the drum.

To make the drain holes in the bottom of the drum I used the vertical drill.

Next, I fitted an eye-bolt through the hole in the centre of the drum.


3. Putting it all together

Now I needed to fit the spool inside the drum. First, I made a small hole (around the central hole of the spool) inside which I placed a cotter pin. On top of this I added a ball bearing. Afterwards, I placed the spool on the drum’s eye-bolt and secured the two nuts. 

Drum with fitted U-bolt and cotter pin

Because at first I couldn’t fit the ball bearing between the eye-bolt’s nuts (it turned out the space inside the U-bolt was too narrow), I had to cut away some of the width of the nuts. The disc grinder saved the day! Fortunately it worked, though more planning won’t harm anyone next time around.    


This is the assembled roller furler:


Note:  I bought the plastic cover (drum) from Dedeman as well as the eye-bolt, nuts, and the rope. The U-bolt was from and the ball bearing from the ‘Rulmenti’ store opposite Kaufland Marasti.

I will update this post with more photos once the furler is put to actual use!

The wooden acorn

Today I’ll show you how to make a wooden acorn in a few steps. This is a really simple project, doesn’t requires to much practice just a bit of attention.

Let’s kick off.

Step1 – pick the material

I did a bit of research before I started this project and I’ve noticed that the guys from the youtube are using different kind of wood to build the acorn parts. A common practice is to use walnut for the acorn hat and maple for the acorn body.

Being my first project, I’ve decided to use what I had in stock and to build both parts from the same piece of wood.  I’ll picked a birch log.

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Step2 – make the acorn hat ( top part)

To make the acorn hat I’ve fixed the birch log in the chuck, rounded down to ~5 cm on the lathe and drilled a 35cm hole.

wooden acornwooden acorn

Once the hole was ready I’ve used the gauge chisel to make the shape of the hat and then used the a special chisel to apply some texture.

texturing chisel

After sanding ( 80, 120 and 220) I’ve applied two coats of light dark oak wax to get a brown color.

wooden acornwooden acorn

Step3 – make the acorn (the body)

To make the body I’ve pretty much followed the same process, but this time finished with a transparent wax to keep the natural color.

wooden acornwooden acornwooden acorn

Here we go, this the final acorn.

2015-10-16 06.50.10  wooden acorn

Wooden Sword in 20 minutes

This is a quick post describing how to build a wooden sword in a couple of minutes.

One day my son invited some friends. While the children’s were playing in the yard pretending that they are knights, it crossed my mind to make a sword. I already had a wood sword from one of my oldest project but I still needed the second one so the boys could ‘fight’ with each other.

The sword will have three separate parts: the blade, the hand protection part and the handle. All the three piece will be glued toegheter.

To make the blade I’ve used the circular saw (45 angle)  and cut off the edges. For the tip of the sword I’ve used the hand router with a 45 angle bit.

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To make the hand protection (sorry but I  have no clue how this call this piece) I’ve cut a circle on the band saw and used the lathe to round and sand the edges.

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For the handle I used again the lathe and tried to model a real sword handle.

wood sword handle

When all pieces were done I’ve glued them together and applied two coat of finishing oil.

wood sword wood sword

… and here is the final product!

wood sword

How to Repair A Knot in Wood

Sometimes, when you are working with softwood, like pinewood, you can end up with some knot holes. This can be annoying especially when they are visible.

In my case, I had a knot hole on the wardrobe door. I had no choice, I had to come up with a fix.

wood knot

As you can see in the picture there is quite a big and ugly hole right on the front side of the door.

To fix the issue, you need just a piece o hard wood and some glue. The trick is to cut a piece of hardwood to fit the hole, insert the dowel in the hole and put some glue. Once the glue is dried, cut of the excessive materials with a handsaw and sand flush the surface.

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Here is the result, it is quite amazing.

fixing wood knot