Shakujo; August 1st 2012:
Just getting started on another project for the Victoria Zen Center, this is to make a Shakujo for the Abbot. It is a staff traditionally used by a Buddhist monk for walking, the finial with the rings, pictured in the middle, was for creating noise to alert and warn sentient beings to move out the way and having now been warned it was their fault, and not the monks, if they got stepped on. The staff would also have been used for self defense.
I gave the Abbot several drawings and he chose the design that was inspired by the way Honeysuckle grows, the plant spiraling upwards towards the light. The wood to the left in the photo is a piece of Western Trumpet Honeysuckle (lonicera ciliosa) which gave me the original idea for the design.
The staff will be made out of some local Red Alder which is light and strong as it has to be a utilitarian and comfortable for walking. In the picture to the right the Alder has been cut from the board and is just over 2″ in diameter. The height of the staff is usually the same as the person using it, the Abbot is 6’4″. At that length it is to long to turn on the lathe and it had to be cut into an octagon on the table saw and now will be worked by hand.
The next step was to build a small jig that allowed the staff to be suspended so that it could turn, i added an old sanding belt under tension from the staff to the workbench which gave some resistance and stopped the staff from just loosely spinning. Then i marked out the spacing for a single spiral that would rotate four times along its length. Using some thick tape, i had some double sided tape, i applied this over my spacing marks while i rotated the staff, this gave me a nice fluid and even spiral.
I then drilled alongside that to give me a guide for the depth, this then was ground out using a ‘Kunstal’ carbide grinding wheel on an angle grinder. Again I could rotate the staff as i worked taking it down just half an inch and with the limited thickness this enabled me to keep as much roundness as possible.
Fitting the brass finial to the top was tricky as its shaft is just a half inch taper, to make the change from the 2″ to work aesthetically i gradually thinned the staff along its length so it eneded being 1″ at the top. Then I added a turned piece of Western Yew as a cap that the finial attached too and balanced it with a cap of the same wood on the base. The staff was smoothed with rasps and files and sanded, the finish is Tung oil.