Japanese tools #26: Bunmawashi with pen holder - Japanese beam compass

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Blog entry by mafe posted 06-04-2017 03:26 PM 6316 reads 2 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 25: Japan meets Krenov II - MaFe style Kanna jointer (Handplane). Part 26 of Japanese tools series no next part

Bunmawashi with pen holder
Japanese beam compass

Last time I posted a Japanese compass it was back in 2013 on my blog no 200, now we are in 2017 and this is blog 331 I think, so it must be about time to do one again.
This time the Bunmawashi was not for me though, but for an artist friend who do wall paintings and did a series for elderly homes, where they have dementia, she told me she needed one, normally up to 120 cm, but at times big circles also and also she needed to be able to use different tools for it, so she could draw on different materials, even glass…

Put the old one behind and eyeballed it on the lathe on some exotic hardwood.
Knew this one had to be bigger and more sturdy.

The usual sanding, grids: 120 180 320 600 1200 and finally shavings.

Marking up for the beam and the wedge.
Putting a pen one something flat and turning it.

Now I can pre drill for the chisel work, this is just for saving time.
Remember the slope for the wedge.
(You can read more in my last blog;

Notice I make the holes smaller than the actual size, like this I have room for mistake.

Honing the chisels on a loaded strop.

Setting the edges again a wee on the good side of the pen, so I can clean up at the end.

Then it’s just to go for it and be careful not to go through before the backside are pre cut also, otherwise you might make a tear out.
(Trust me, I have done this several times).

Made what we in Denmark call a cow (ko), a jig to hold it while working, this makes it sometimes easier.

For the beams I found different types of wood and the first one I finished up with planes and a card scraper.

For the next beams, I ran the wood through the thicknesser first.

Now the wedges can be drawn.
I choose some contrasting wood.

Sawn out.

Now the beam can be locked in place.

Next step was to try and figure out a way to make a pen holder.
Made a few sketches and then tried my way.
Here drilling holes through some stock.

Then turning it on the lathe and giving it a tapered shape.

Drilling through the beam.
(Out of focus).

A pen holder.

The wedge locks the pen in place and it can be used with different sizes of tools.
I am happy with this, think it match the original design and use same ways of holding.

Then I can make some more, one for each beam.

Taper, taper.


Here some of the ideas on sketch.

Drilling the pen hole.

Marking for the wedge hole.

Pre drill.
Remember the wedge angle.

Cleaning up the hole, just as I did on the compass.

To make a pen for the compass, an old broken drill bit gets new life.
Mount it in a accu drill, spin it against your grinder, like this you can fast and easily shape it.

Mount it in the compass with epoxy glue.
Out of focus again, the focus is on my fingers… Yes I wear band aid…

Here you see why… As I was using the disc sander on this project for some clean up, I slipped my fingers into the grid 60… bad idea. This is how the fingers look one week after.

The pen holder result.
Here mounted with a scratch awl, I made for it.

Here you can see how it locks with the wedge.
It works really well, so I am pleased.

Last part of the task, was to be able to use it on glass.
This was one that I had to think about but came up with an idea.
Fist some hardwood.

Turning a wee thing…

This is the thing and under it, is this stuff you use to hang posters on the children’s rooms, sticky stuff, we call it elephant snot in Denmark.

Here it is, the thing on a window.

And with the compass set in the hole.

As you can see, it can even hold it’s own weight, so that should be a winner.
It can also be used to cut foils on glass, when mounting a cutter in the pen holder.

And set in wood.

Made this little utility holder, with different tools, extra wedges, cutter, eraser, elephant snot and pens.

The head folded up for transport.

All ready to go.

The tree arms in different lengths and utility’s hold together by O-rings.

Here just waiting to be picked up.

On a mission?
You can see here that the longest arm are app. two meters so some serious circles can be made.

Ok, a peace mission…
(Stop it MaFe, you are not funny as your daughter tells you so often).

Finally Lena came to pick it up!
I will say no more than, please look at that face.
You can also take a look at her website:
I am a happy man.

Hope this blog can inspire others to make some tools.

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

18 comments so far

View lew's profile


12931 posts in 4357 days

#1 posted 06-04-2017 03:38 PM

Most Excellent, Mads!

You are right, that smile says it all!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1102 posts in 2914 days

#2 posted 06-04-2017 03:54 PM

Brilliant, no other word to describe this!

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View Brit's profile


7888 posts in 3444 days

#3 posted 06-04-2017 04:21 PM

Fantastic work Mads!

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View steliart's profile


2895 posts in 3290 days

#4 posted 06-04-2017 04:30 PM

what a nice beam compass and an excellent build-up post Mads… thumbs up buddy :) !!!

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View madts's profile


1921 posts in 2941 days

#5 posted 06-04-2017 04:58 PM

Just plain great Mads.


-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10859 posts in 4654 days

#6 posted 06-04-2017 06:01 PM

Very NICE!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23740 posts in 3707 days

#7 posted 06-04-2017 06:11 PM

Nice tutorial, Mads! She looks very happy with it. I recognized that sanding damage on your fingers right away. Been done that, too!! They take a long time to heal compare to cuts!
I could not help but notice the planer in the kitchen. Do you know how long I could get away with that here????

Nice work, my friend!!.....................cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2696 posts in 1665 days

#8 posted 06-04-2017 08:02 PM

What an amazing artist is Lena.

-- Mark

View Lemongrasspicker's profile


123 posts in 1098 days

#9 posted 06-04-2017 09:23 PM

Very awesome! It’s a very wonderful gift and I’m sure that she’ll get some great use out of it


View builtinbkyn's profile


2999 posts in 1542 days

#10 posted 06-04-2017 11:56 PM

Well done Mads! I love the step by step presentation and especially the sketches you worked from. The project formulates in your minds eye, then to paper and then to reality. You have a very happy recipient there too, it seems. Excellent!

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1312 posts in 2315 days

#11 posted 06-05-2017 03:37 PM

Another lovely and humouristic blog. The bumawashi came out lovely!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View CFrye's profile


10822 posts in 2442 days

#12 posted 06-05-2017 04:53 PM

Thank you for your detailed blogs on tool building. Always a treat to read, Mads. Lena’s smile does say a lot, and her art is smile inducing!

-- God bless, Candy

View swirt's profile


4539 posts in 3574 days

#13 posted 06-06-2017 01:34 AM

Great build Mafe. A fun read. Sorry about your fingers.

-- Galootish log blog,

View mafe's profile


12286 posts in 3691 days

#14 posted 06-16-2017 11:07 AM

Hi there,
swirt, smiles, yes that one hurted for a while, but all fine now, not eevn a mark.
CFrye, she is quite a talented woman yes. I am always impressed when I see what she is up to. Thanks.
kaerlighedsbamsen, thanks I try to make it a wee more than woodworking, so I am really happy for the words.
builtinbkyn, I do work in a quite unsystematic way, kind of mix up drawings, ideas as I go and just finding my way. If I work from sketch I tend to get bored and feel like it’s a job, also I feel shape is better judged in real life. Thanks.
Lemongrasspicker, I have to admit I will be looking for round objects in her paintings by now. ;-) Smiles.
Mark Wilson, yes she is a special kind, a smile maker I feel.
Jim Jakosh, ha ha ha, yes the planner in the kitchen! It is my workshop kitchen, that’s why, so I am the only one to get upset, when I find shavings in the food. Laugh. Thanks.
Joe Lyddon, smiles.
madts, I will go for PLANE great. ;-)
steliart, as long as you keep the fingers out of the sander. Tank you.
Brit, thank you with a smile.
Jim Rowe, a shiny smile on my lips says thank you.
lew, yes it made it all make sense. Thanks.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 3141 days

#15 posted 06-26-2017 06:47 PM

Fantastic, just fantastic. I love home-made tools, especially for drafting.

-- I never finish anyth

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