Sunday, February 6, 2011

A tip from Asia

Our ubiquitous bamboo works very well for pining joints.  It is quite strong, and with better resiliency compared to most woods of a similar dimension.  In the states, you can often find what will work at markets that have an Asian food section, probably sold as skewers in a pack, around 1/8" diameter, and sometimes larger ones are also available.  I mostly use the smaller size, pin all the leg stretchers on chairs this way, and some other places where I want a lock with minimal appearance.  It works great.  Especially with darker woods, it reveals a small point of attention; a nice tiny detail for those that care to see.

There is some variation in the diameters in a pack, so I find it best to drill a hole slightly small and the skewer can be easily sized down quickly with sandpaper for a perfect minimal resistance slip in fit.  I put a little angle on the end with a rasp before pushing it in, a slight amount of glue applied.  The bamboo doesn't seem to swell up as much as wood does when glue touches the surface, perhaps barely at all, and it is a bit slippery to begin with.  A little tight and it taps in with a hammer.  Too tight and it will likely become stuck only part of the way in, so you will end up having to drill it out and redo.  Snip and pear it flat with a muss no fuss, and the process goes quick.

The skewers can be useful for other things as well;  applying a spot of "instant glue' to under a sliver of grain that has lifted up, or pushing a cloth with finish on it into a recess, etc.  Some thoughtful person brings a bottle of sake, nicely drunk with yakitori grilled in the stove in the shop, not a bad reason to have some skewers around either....


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