Scale of Justice

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Project by Joedcatman posted 01-02-2010 01:19 AM 4276 views 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project was quite a challenge to me. After I heard about the winter 2010 project contest, I really did some deep thinking about what Yin and Yang meant to me. I thought of a US Flag, cutting boards, boxes, crosses and about 476 other things, and then it came to me… equality. It would challenge my abilities and use much more than one woodworking skill. I have never seen another anything like it.

This scale (24” tall and 24” wide) represents to me, the balance of all things, light and dark and a shade between (but the difference is small). The base and the scale plates are walnut and maple. The upright post and the balancing arm are maple and purpleheart. I made the Yin Yang symbol on the top of the post from maple and walnut to match the base. The post and the plates were turned on a 1970’s Craftsman lathe. The Yin Yang symbol on the top was cut on my band saw and sanded by hand to fit. I drilled and fitted dowels in the symbol and used a bamboo dowel for the balance point for the scale beam. The beam itself is maple inlaid with purpleheart. The cut through the post for the beam was drilled then hand chiseled and filed rectangular to allow smooth movement of the scale. The pointer is simply pressed onto the bamboo pivot and has a brass indicator for center mounted to the post to indicate equal weight on either side of the scale. The finish is 4 coats of hand-rubbed teak oil and three coats of Johnsons Paste Wax.

If you have never tried to make two identical plates, one at a time, using a back plate glued to the wood stock then finish them to precisely balance, you will never know the challenge of equality.

I have always liked the contrast of light and dark wood in any project and now I am proud to present my representation of the balance of light and dark, Yin and Yang, as it comes together to represent a single concept… equality.

I know there are many, many other LumberJocks out there with skills and abilities far superior to mine. I am willing to learn as I hope this project shows. This was probably the most challenging woodworking project that I have ever tried. I welcome any advice or criticism, constructive or otherwise.

I might add; the only thing I purchased specifically for this project was the chain and the 8 brass eye screws. The wood I had scrounged and inherited over the years. WOW, I enjoyed building this, now if I just knew what to do with it!

-- JoeR Nothing that I could make will ever be perfect but I'll use it anyway.

16 comments so far

View Vince's profile


1292 posts in 4709 days

#1 posted 01-02-2010 01:39 AM

Very nice work

-- Vince

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4354 days

#2 posted 01-02-2010 01:44 AM

Excellent and meaningful work. I think you just scared me out of competing in the contest. However, I may make an entry just so I can vote for you.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bob Areddy's profile

Bob Areddy

193 posts in 4682 days

#3 posted 01-02-2010 01:53 AM

Just a thought: Instead of trying to turn the two plates exactly the same weight, why not turn them very close, then drill out a small hole in the bottom and add tungsten powder (used to weight putters) until balanced?

-- --Bob

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26990 posts in 4385 days

#4 posted 01-02-2010 02:32 AM

That is a nice job of balancing the two dishes. Great job with the two colors of wood too.

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

View yaacovmac's profile


1 post in 4347 days

#5 posted 01-02-2010 02:43 AM

This is your sister in AK, the only one you have. Had to join this thing to post a comment on your site.
Being an artist myself I surely recognize the supurb workmanship of another great artist. Of all the projects I’ve seen of yours this is probably the hardest you have attempted, and completed. I think it will win the contest.
Terrific work. Mary


View studie's profile


618 posts in 4426 days

#6 posted 01-02-2010 04:03 AM

Superb, Joe! The combination of wood & precision is most wonderful, that had to be challenging. The finish is just beautiful too. Also your turning the main post with contrasting woods looks great! I see a taper also that must have added to the complexity of this. How did you attach the main post to the base? I’ll bet it’s sturdy & morticed thru the base. Great work & thanks for showing off, you show off, LOL!

-- $tudie

View Joedcatman's profile


172 posts in 4394 days

#7 posted 01-02-2010 04:07 AM

Thanks all for your kind words. Rich, of all people, don’t let ME scare you out of entering this contest. I worked hard on this project but it certainly doesn’t mean that I’ll win. I already won by creating exactly what I’d envisioned. It is not so much the destination as it is the journey. Funny, I never knew what that meant until now.

Bob, I never even heard of tungsten powder. I just got as close as I could, then finished one with the oil and wax and the top of the other and sanded till the second one was a little lighter then applied the finish to the bottom.

Thanks sis, coming from one who quilts, sews, paints and plays almost every type of musical instrument, I am humbled by your compliment. Of course this comes from one who can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

-- JoeR Nothing that I could make will ever be perfect but I'll use it anyway.

View PET2E's profile


3 posts in 4379 days

#8 posted 01-02-2010 05:15 PM

Great job Joe. As you know, most of my projects are repairing someone elses poor judgement in finishes. ie: cedar chest, large mirror frame. Once in awhile I get an original idea, but nothing as ambitious as what you have accomplished. Again GREAT job! Paul

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5268 days

#9 posted 01-02-2010 05:21 PM

Very cool project! Lots of real nice details.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View sras's profile


6424 posts in 4409 days

#10 posted 01-02-2010 06:05 PM

Very nice! Original too! As to what to do with it, enjoying the appearance is how a lot of art is used and this certainly qualifies as art!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4395 days

#11 posted 01-03-2010 12:46 AM

great looking scale but I have to say it can´t be in the contess:—)
it has to be use for judging all other competisions :-)

no I´m kiding it´s a butyful piece you have done

Dennis a newbee in the trade

View a1Jim's profile


118296 posts in 4857 days

#12 posted 01-03-2010 01:08 AM

Unique Idea Joe well done.


View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2859 posts in 4871 days

#13 posted 01-03-2010 02:48 AM

Very Nice! That is one nice Scale of Justice!!!

-- Dennis Zongker

View blockhead's profile


1475 posts in 4588 days

#14 posted 01-16-2010 09:16 PM

Great idea and great execution. The woods are fantastic together. This will be a hard one to beat.

-- Brad, Oregon- The things that come to those who wait, may be the things left by those who got there first.

View Joedcatman's profile


172 posts in 4394 days

#15 posted 01-17-2010 12:39 AM

Thanks Brad. I don’t know about the wood for dinner but I gotta quit putting my coffee cup down near machinery in the shop. I was wondering how the coffee got thicker. So I guess at least tiny pieces of wood are also good for breakfast and lunch.

-- JoeR Nothing that I could make will ever be perfect but I'll use it anyway.

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