Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Making a Bo Rack

This past Sunday I had a lot of free time, so I decided to make a bo rack for my home dojo. I was originally inspired by the idea of making a rack for the dojo where I take karate classes, since it would be useful to have one in the area where everyone leaves their coats and such, but I found out someone else is already working on one. So, I thought it would still be fun to make one for home. It's not that I have more than one bo, but at some point I might - and if anyone ever comes to visit, and they happen to have a bo with them, there wil be an available spot on the rack for their bo. :-)

Making the rack was a pretty straightforward process, although it did make a bit of a mess of my dining room. Saw dust just seems to get everywhere. I live in a condo with no garage or basement, so I have to make do with the space I have. In this case, I used my dining room table as my workbench.

I first started out by measuring one of the bo racks at the dojo to get an idea of the dimension that actually worked for spacing of holes, distance from the wall, etc. I then found some scrap wood at home (left over from a previous shelving project) that would be usable for this project - a 12" wide by 3/4" thick pine board and a smaller 1.5" x 3/4" strip of pine.

I then took the 12" wide board and drilled 1 1/8" diameter holes, evenly spaced 3/4" apart. The holes were also 1 7/8" away from the edge of the board. Since the scrap wood was long enough, I drilled nine holes. This series of holes would be later cut down the middle (cutting each hole in half) so as to make the top portion of the rack.

While I was drilling the holes through the board, I noticed the board was often splintering where the drill popped out the other side of the board. I then thought of the idea of partially drilling a hole from the opposite side of the board to reduce the chance of the board splintering when the hole was complete. In order to do this, I just had to first drill a small pilot hole completely through the board so I would have a guide hole to ensure the large holes would line up properly. This can be seen in the following picture. (If you look closely at the rightmost hole, you can see the splintered edge.)

After I drilled all nine holes, I then used a table saw to cut the board down the middle, bisecting each hole - resulting in a long strip of wood with nine half circles. I also cut off the other remaining nine half circles as another strip of wood, just in case I might need to make another rack at some point (or if I made some major gaffe during the making of this one, I had some extra pieces to fall back on).

After cutting the wood that would be used for the top portion of the rack, I then made the base. For now, I just used some of the remnants of the 12" wide board and used the strip of wood with the half circle pieces as a guide for where to drill sunken holes. These holes were all made 3 1/2" from the edge of the board. This would ensure when the top piece was mounted on the wall, the holes on the base would be positioned so the bo had a slight lean to it to stay in the rack, but not too much a lean as to lead to warping of the bo over time. I only had a spade bit for making sunken holes, so I had to be careful not to make the holes too deep, otherwise the tip of the bit would pop through the board. Ideally, I would have liked to have used a fostner bit since the tip doesn't protrude as much, but the only one I had was 1" wide. And fostner bits are a tad expensive so I didn't go out and buy one. This picture shows the base board with some of the sunken holes drilled.

After this process, I now had the raw material for a rack that could hold 9 bo. Since that was way overkill for my home use, I then cut the boards in half, leaving two 4 hole pieces. (The extra hole was sacrificed to give two boards with 4 uniformly spaced holes. If I tried to make one board with 5 holes and another with 4, one hole on each board would have been too close to the end of the board.) I also cut a piece of the 1 1/2" x 3/4" pine board that was long enough to act as a backing for the top portion of the rack with all the half circles.

After all the cutting was finished, it was just a simple process of sanding, staining, and then applying a couple coats of polyurethane. I found a Dremel tool was very handy for sanding the half-circles and the sunken holes on the base. I stained the wood Sunday night, and applied coats of polyurethane the past two mornings. This picture shows the pieces drying after the stain had been applied.

After the polyurethan had dried, I drilled a couple holes in the back of the rack so it could be hung on the wall. This picture shows the final product.

One thing I discovered is the angle of the bo might need to be adjusted. I don't think the bo is upright enough. The problem is I didn't take into account the 3/4" thickness of the baseboard trim in my condo, so the holes in the base of the rack in relation to the top of the rack are 3/4" further out than I planned. This can easily be fixed by sawing off 3/4" from the base so the holes are then closer to the wall. I just don't want to get saw dust all over the dining room again, so I'm putting off this final step until this weekend.