The Kendama Forum

Forum categories => Gear => Topic started by: br4d24 on 24 February, 2013, 12:56:52

Title: (Literally) Handmade Kendama?
Post by: br4d24 on 24 February, 2013, 12:56:52
Hey everyone!

So like everyone here kendama is a big part of my life! I enjoy playing and learning more about the culture and community it can bring. But there is one more side of kendama i wish to tackle - making one myself.

I am currently trying to get a bit of money together to purchase a mini lathe i can do some semi pro work on... but in my search for alternative ways to get the job done i started thinking of the "og" kendama makers/creators that must have started by doing hand carving. Sure this sounds like a very tedious and difficult task, but if kendama has taught me one thing - its that nothing is ever too difficult if you want it bad enough!

So im gonna give it a shot tomorrow and get started! If anyone has attempted this before, please let me know of anything i might be able to do to get things right.

P.s. I am just going to try and make the ken for now and use a real tama i already own. Making a ball would be super hard to get right on a lathe for me, so doing it by hand may come at a later date :P

Also kind of split on just going for a bilboquet for my first creation, maybe a mini kendama sized one? Ive recently gained the want/need to have one in the collection! 
Title: Re: (Literally) Handmade Kendama?
Post by: The Void on 24 February, 2013, 14:23:09
I'm hopeless when it come to creating things with my hands, so I'll just say"good luck"! Show us your results when you've had a go. :)

PS If you haven't already, search the forum for 'lathe' for a few extra comments on this kind of thing.
Title: Re: (Literally) Handmade Kendama?
Post by: br4d24 on 24 February, 2013, 21:29:18
Im pretty excited with the idea! Since i live in BC Canada i am thinking about going out into the forest and collecting some wood to work on! If im not misaken some of the tree species we have here are:

English oak tree (770-772 Rutland Rd. North)
Bea's Saucer Magnolia Tree (1950 Ethel Street)
Guisachan Avenue of Cedars (1056 Cameron Avenue)
American Linden - Guisachan Heritage Park (1056 Cameron Avenue)
Sweetgum (Liquidambar) - James Stuart Park (1420 Water Street)
Southern magnolia - (3524 Rose Rd)
"Bigtree" - McCulloch and Rose Rd.
Purple Leaf Beech (1740 Ethel Street)

 It sounds like the forest i will be able to access (for unplanted, natural trees) is going to mostly be fur which im not sure would be all that great to use (sappy).

I will take pictures of the progress i make today! Maybe once i get some blanks you guys can help me decide what i should use!

EDIT: Okay so i started working on it, but i couldn't find a big enough stick to really make a full sized one with proper cups... atleast not anywhere that i would have to cut a living tree with a saw i dont have (dont wanna kill or hurt a tree for a toy). I started out trying to make it like my tribute but once i got to trying to make the bottom cup i decided to settle for a "spikedama". In the end it will be like a YUMU fully spiked up, so it should be great practice in that regard. I am also thinking of making some flat spots on the handle and crosspiece to do some stalls.

Finished working on it today, and yeah its super rough which i expected - after all im just going at it and learning as i proceed. Here are pics of what i got done today - oh and i believe the wood is oak. Just need to grab a drill to add the string hole and crosspiece hole. Then im going to do some extreme sanding and cleaning up to make it somewhat presentable! Gotta make the crosspiece spikes straighter as well... but the standard tama fits on all spikes nicely.


Title: Re: (Literally) Handmade Kendama?
Post by: AlexSmith on 25 February, 2013, 06:15:08
I've been thinking about hand-carving a kendama for a while now... I have a friend who owns a high end carving set that I'll borrow for the job, but its been a little too tedious a task to take up quite yet. I hope it works out for you!

Playing with a kendama you made by hand is an awesome feeling, so I'm sure you'll be stoked even if it turns out looking really iffy (not saying it will, but just in case :p).
For a lathe, I'm sure Kelowna will have a Canadian Tire, and they carry a really small Mastercraft lathe that might suit you. Under $200, and comes with a few tools so you can start turning pretty much straight away. It is cheap and pretty crappy, but it'll get the job done (some of the first Terra kendamas were made using a Mastercrap lathe). On the upside, Mastercraft has an incredible warranty (it seems like anything goes, as long as you have a receipt).
Please note: if you haven't worked on a lathe before, please seek some sort of professional instruction first. Lathes can be dangerous. People have died using them.
Also, be aware that woodworking equipment gets expensive fast - while that lathe is cheap, it doesn't come with any tool sharpening equipment (for example). It is possible to get into woodworking and not spend a ton of money, but its also easy to spend a lot. I guess there are worse things to invest in though :p
Title: Re: (Literally) Handmade Kendama?
Post by: br4d24 on 25 February, 2013, 10:51:52
Theres actually a perfect mini lathe at the rona here but im going to college so i dont have the money. Its regular $200 on sale for $99 :(

My rents are sending out my dremal from home, im pretty handy with that. I could easily churn out a decent quality kendama with that; althought it wouldnt nearly be as perfect as a lathe.

But yeah with the tools i have right now it would take wayyy to much work to make one. I atleast need a saw of some sort to get the shape. slowly carving it down is just too hard on the hands... cant play kendama for a while afterwards
Title: Re: (Literally) Handmade Kendama?
Post by: Klackkendamas on 01 March, 2013, 03:38:57
ill chime in to help, i have been turning wood for a few months now... i recently went on kendama making spree... i bought a new better lathe.. $400 plus a stand $200 then a set of tools from HF.. dont get them.. $50 for nothing... then i realized i need a 4 jaw chuck... $400 of course i need better tools, so i bought "easy wood tools" with a carbide tips $70 for a rougher $70 for a finisher.. then you need a parting tool $65 ... ok so here i am, well over $1000 and still need to buy wood blanks $6+ for 2x2x12 which is what you need.. forget about turning a ball till you are a skilled wood turner.. so i bought wood balls un drilled... realized i need to drill this.. drill chuck $25. then you have to drill the ken... drill press used on Craigslist $75... i also bought a bandsaw from the same guy for another $75... so after all that... i can finally turn kendamas... each ken takes me about an hour to turn... then about a half hour to do all the cups.. then just a few min.s to drill. i went through lots of $6 2x2x12 blanks to finally be able to turn a perfect kendama. so if you have the cash to burn then go for it! im super excited to get my company off the ground and i cant wait to start selling some kendamas to at least make some of my money back... But i will tell you that turning wood is super fun! good luck with your adventure.. and keep an eye out for my new company KLACK Kendamas.
Title: Re: (Literally) Handmade Kendama?
Post by: happygoat on 01 March, 2013, 10:03:41

Sounds super interesting...!!! Could you please give us some more info about the tools and the lathe?

...and btw, would it be too much to ask for a few pics of the kendamas?  ::)
Title: Re: (Literally) Handmade Kendama?
Post by: Jared Sherrard. on 02 March, 2013, 04:44:42
I started making kendamas not too long ago, I'd been lathing for a while but I wanted to be ready. In my opinion, you could probably get all set up for 350$, but eventually you'll need to figure out your sharpening, better sanding, better chucks etc.... I got an old used second hand mastercraft... It had a stand and its huge, still on warranty believe it or not. I got a decent tool set along with a sharpener from master craft and found a place in Calgary with some good chucks. But for handmaking a lathe is definetely the way to go. Good luck with carving them, but I think you will have alot more fun using a lathe! Once you can finally make some nice ones, I can guarantee the feeling you get holding your own kendama will make it all worth it!
Title: Re: (Literally) Handmade Kendama?
Post by: BrandonYoder on 07 March, 2013, 10:00:27
Like others have said..turning can get very expensive.
I think i spent about a grand in my first year alone on something i thought was a 1 time $400investment...but it didnt stop there. haha
I have to say though...woodworking is so rewarding(more mentally than with money) I love turning and it is easily one of my biggest passions.
I make Bowls, custom Rings, plugs, some other jewelry, and a lot of custom ordered hand turned kendamas for various people.

All that being MIGHT be expensive,..but it WILL be fun and rewarding as long as you are smart and use the correct protection and safety precautions.(and i do stress that)

Here is another Hand turned kendama I finished a few weeks back just for myself out of Chakte Kok. Easily my favorite one ive ever turned. There is no filter, that bright red color is “all natural”. haha I did an article about it on the blog. (
Title: Re: (Literally) Handmade Kendama?
Post by: BrandonYoder on 07 March, 2013, 10:01:26
Also...i am intrested to see what you come up with as far as hand carving...Could turn out pretty interesting.
SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal