Saturday, January 29, 2011

Big Planned Fire

I forgot to post the burning of the Fire Festival house.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Splitting Rails

I have a lot of cedar logs. Not so big, about 5-6 inches diameter, and six feet long. So I decided to start splitting some rails out of them, and hopefully eventually make a split rail fence.

It is not as hard as I thought, maybe because cedar is such an easy soft wood that splits if you look at it crosseyed. I just used the two splitting wedges one after another all the way down the log. Maybe five minutes per log.

Now I need to practice making mortise and tenons.

And finally, I need to char the bottoms of the fenceposts before planting them.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tori Oi Matsuri

On Sunday, I headed off to Kimida with a truck bed full of tools and a truck cab full of me and the two oldest kids. The wife and baby stayed behind, since we would be outside the whole day.
Why did we go to Kimida? Well to build the Bird Chasing Festival Hut of course! Silly! What else would we be doing in January on a frozen rice paddy?
It was a blast though. I have loved bamboo since I was a kid, and I love to make things out of it. (Usually the things I make by myself just fall over though. Good thing some people who knew what they were doing were there!)
If you are interested in making your own Bird Chasing Festival Hut, here is how you do it.
  1. In early December, cut about a zillion Moso bamboo poles. They should be at least 10 meters.
  2. After cutting the zillion 'boo, then cut and bundle about 15-20 heaping truckloads of head high or more grasses. 
  3. Dig postholes about a meter apart along the future walls of your hut (4x5 meter huts are a good size.) and drop in 5 meter long poles.
  4. Attach horizontal members to the outside at about 90 cm intervals. 
  5. Square the building and put in some diagonal stabilizers.
  6. Lay the ceiling joists (flat) every meter or so, and cross them with rafters at 60cm intervals.
  7. Split some very long bamboo into quarter strips, knock out the nodes.
  8. Apply the bottom layer of grass thatching, securing it to the horizontal beams with the quarter strip bamboo withes. The bamboo will just bend right around the corners. Might crack the long way, but that won't hurt the strength any.
  9. Apply a second layer the same way, slightly overlapping the first. This should go all the way to the rafters and a bit beyond.
  10. Cover the roof with bundles of grass, and leftover bamboo branches.
Or you could just watch this video:

Now dig a firepit in the center, and this is important- DON'T USE OPEN FLAMES IN THE FIREPIT. Bring in a few pieces of already burning charcoal for use in the center of the pit. Roast some fish and rice cakes on bamboo skewers, drink a cup or two of rice wine heated in bamboo pitchers and served in green bamboo cups. Then everyone go outside, check that the fire department truck is standing by, and torch that sucker.