Wyatt has been asking me to make a kendama for a long time. It’s a fun, cup & ball kind of skill game from Japan. I’ve tried it out on several occasions while in a Japantown store and never had much success getting the ball to land correctly in a cup. It is truly a toy that requires practice. There are YouTube videos of experts at the kendama that show off amazing tricks.
Like a kendama, a lathe requires a lot of practice and experience to build enough skills to really become a great turner. There is a reason why woodturners are in a category of woodworking all their own: it takes more devotion to a single tool than other woodworking and building tasks.
If you are interested in learning more about working on a lathe, two of my favorite woodturners with crazy skills are Frank Howarth and Carl Jacobson. I love watching their videos and their mastery of the craft.
I preface all this because this project was a partial failure. Partial because the kendama didn’t really turn out the way it should have. I don’t even think an expert would be able to use it. On the other hand, my real goal this week was to challenge myself with something completely out of my wheelhouse, which I did. I learned a lot in my attempts and think I could get closer to turning a working kendama if I were to try again.
Turning a sphere on the other hand…now that is a crazy challenge!
My strategy was to draw a center line and curve over each half of the cylinder until the width was the same at the diameter. In theory, this makes sense. I made two attempts and both balls came out looksing more like eggs!
The ball has a large hole that will drop into the spike end of the kendama. This goes about halfway through the ball and a smaller hole connects through the opposite side. This holds the string.
The other two pieces of the kendama are easier to turn, but need to meet exact sizes for the ball to fit into the cups or onto the spike correctly. Mine were a little wonky.
This hole joints the two pieces together.
And a smaller hole goes through the whole assembly for attaching the string.
The beetle-kill pine looks great spray lacquered though. So there’s that.