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The Jo (Read 5174 times)
Klarh
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The Jo
Jan 28th, 2007 at 10:01pm
 
The day after my first aikido lesson where we practiced with a jo, I couldn't resist and made one. I've made a couple more since then, but they're all quite crooked. It's amazing how quickly those "perfectly straight trees" warp when they hit the ground. Grin Anyway, I was wondering on your thoughts on making a somewhat straight jo from a fresh trunk/branch. So far I've tried just shaving it down with a drawknife, but that doesn't seem to work too good for me to straighten things(Mostly because that's not how it should work anyway  Wink). I guess a lathe would work, but I shouldn't buy an electric lathe and I'm not really sure how effective a "hand-powered" lathe would be for something like this.

Anyway, thanks in advance for your thoughts!
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Re: The Jo
Reply #1 - Jan 29th, 2007 at 7:00am
 
So you're talking a staff just over 4 foot long (50 inches seems to be standard) and about broom handle thick.

Buy a broom handle is the cheapest way - 'course they're usually made from softwood and ideally you want hardwood.
Making your own - very hard. Turning something that long and narrow on a domestic electric lathe is almost impossible. You'd need several enclosing supports.

It would actually be much easier to make using a pole-lathe or bodging lathe (foot powered not hand powered :-)
[url]http://www.coedceiriog.co.uk/stewart/pole.html[/url]

The faster you rotate something the more inclination there is for it to distort. Long narrow things tend to bow out on electric lathes - unless you have a very expensive lathe with variable speed control (I don't) then the slowest speed you'll get is between 100-500 rpm. Also very few lathes will turn anything longer than 36 inches.

However a pole lathe - easy to make, turns at well under 100 rpm (even if you peddle fast) so would be easier.

However the best way would be to buy one from a martial arts supplier - or try to get hardwood dowel from your local timber merchant.

Bear in mind it needs to be commercially seasoned, or it will simply warp.
Using green wood will only work if you leave the bark on and seal both ends of the stick. Otherwise the wood will dry out very quickly and warp or split.

If you just want it for practice - get a broom handle :-)
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Klarh
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Re: The Jo
Reply #2 - Jan 29th, 2007 at 11:42am
 
Hmm, guess I'll just have to make a lathe then Wink.

But doesn't whatever you're turning have to be pretty straight in the first place? Is there an easier way to do this than just sitting something heavy on top of the wood on a flat surface while it's green?
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Re: The Jo
Reply #3 - Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:20pm
 
I'd just like to ask that whenever someone posts something about a weapon that is not as common as, say, a bow or sword, if they could please define it? In this case, I've got the idea that the jo is a big stick. I'm not sure if that's right ...
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Klarh
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Re: The Jo
Reply #4 - Jan 29th, 2007 at 12:34pm
 
Ah, I'm sorry. Smiley

A jo is what I would call a medium-sized stick(A bo would be a big stick), generally around 50"(Or maybe a bit more) long and 1" or so in diameter, I'd say. Length and type of wood can be determined by what you'll be doing with it. In my case, I'd like a nice strong wood(Like hickory) since, if I managed to make a nice-enough one, I would be carrying it to class.
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Klarh
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Re: The Jo
Reply #5 - Jan 30th, 2007 at 9:10pm
 
(Sorry for the doublepost.)

Well, I threw together a makeshift pole lathe today, but without the pole. Instead of the pole, I decided to just weight the string where the pole would be and hang it from a hook -- same effect, right?

Anyway, I can't get it to work... whatever I put in there, the string slips or just doesn't do anything. I suppose this is mostly because none of the sticks I'm using are straight. But then again, that's what I'm trying to get... If the sticks are straight already, I don't have a lot of use for the lathe. Smiley

Some of it could also be the string I suppose, but it would still seem that I'd need to have straight sticks. Or maybe I'm just missing a point somewhere.

Any tips?

Edit: I got it to work finally(Thought I was done for the night before), not smoothly but...it works. Kind of. Although I still think it'll be kind of hard to follow a curve with any tool while it spins around so. How fast should I be aiming for when working on it?
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Re: The Jo
Reply #6 - Feb 2nd, 2007 at 5:07am
 
The hardwood curtainrod I use as my practice spear seems to react well to repetitive sudden pressure - it's worth a shot, I reckon, they're so cheap.
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Klarh
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Re: The Jo
Reply #7 - Feb 2nd, 2007 at 10:25am
 
Well, I think I've found a (Not-so-primitive) way to get straight stock. We've had an unassembled table saw in our barn for a year or so, I put it together yesterday. Quick and easy way to get mostly straight 1" square rods, which are then easily rounded with a plane.

Thanks for the help, everyone. Smiley
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Re: The Jo
Reply #8 - Feb 2nd, 2007 at 11:42am
 
see told you, broom handle :-)

Just bear in mind if you make your own - season the wood BEFORE you cut and shape it otherwise it will just warp and split.

The pole in the pole lathe is there to add tension to the 'string' as much as anything.

And no turning anything that long is not easy. Pole lathe turning - as I said is usually green soft wood, so it turns slow and cuts easy.

And admiral - just type akido jo into dogpile.com (like I did) and ten seconds later you know what it is :-)
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Re: The Jo
Reply #9 - Feb 3rd, 2007 at 3:21am
 
Indeed.  Speaking from the experience of knowing which weapons really *do* last the longest when you really hit things with them, avoid hard woods.  They're heavy, extremely poor strength:weight, splinter violently and just all around will not serve you well most likely if you're really going to hit things with them.

  • If you're looking for quality in your weapon try to find one that's made of rattan or white wax wood.  Both will hold up to just about anything.  Rattan will start to break eventually.. but when it breaks it only puffs out like a broom; its splinters will not hurt you.  White wax wood is nearly indestructible.. it's flex-ier than rattan, but it's extremely strong.  Both are good with shock absorption too, so you don't have to worry about impact.  Both are lightweight as can be for their strength, both are used by ancient martial arts and peoples to make tools and weapons still to this day.  You will not be afraid to hit things with these.  Your weapon will hold together.  They're also both decently cheap.
  • Hardwood is ok if you want endurance/strength training with your Jo.  If you plan to play with it for many hours by yourself and build up your body with it, go for the hardwood.. but you could also go for metal pipe at this point.  Also I guess if it's hard work and craftsmanship you want you should go this route with your lathe =)
  • If you're looking for just a starter weapon yes do what everyone else has suggested and get a broom handle =)  My guess is if you're training Aikido jo techniques yours probably won't take much of a beating and the broom handle is cheap, lightweight and decent quality.  A very fine weapon indeed.
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Re: The Jo
Reply #10 - Feb 3rd, 2007 at 5:02pm
 
hey Klarth,
couple of insights from one who has made multiple cane/staff type weapons from natural wood.
First rule always cut more than you think you will need.
2. coat the ends of the sticks with some sort of water resistant material, my favorite is latex paint
3. wait until the wood is dry before doing shaping work. traditionally this means wait about a year from cutting. But there are tricks that can shorten this time dramatically.
it's going to be difficult to turn this size of wood with a lathe unless you get a almost speciality cost machine.
It's easier to find a realitve straight piece of wood about the right diameter and work it down to size.

Marc Adkins

Klarh wrote on Jan 28th, 2007 at 10:01pm:
The day after my first aikido lesson where we practiced with a jo, I couldn't resist and made one. I've made a couple more since then, but they're all quite crooked. It's amazing how quickly those "perfectly straight trees" warp when they hit the ground. Grin Anyway, I was wondering on your thoughts on making a somewhat straight jo from a fresh trunk/branch. So far I've tried just shaving it down with a drawknife, but that doesn't seem to work too good for me to straighten things(Mostly because that's not how it should work anyway  Wink). I guess a lathe would work, but I shouldn't buy an electric lathe and I'm not really sure how effective a "hand-powered" lathe would be for something like this.

Anyway, thanks in advance for your thoughts!

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Re: The Jo
Reply #11 - Feb 3rd, 2007 at 5:22pm
 
My comments are inside the text set off by quotation marks
Marc Adkins

lololololol wrote on Feb 3rd, 2007 at 3:21am:
Indeed.  Speaking from the experience of knowing which weapons really *do* last the longest when you really hit things with them, avoid hard woods.  They're heavy, extremely poor strength:weight, splinter violently and just all around will not serve you well most likely if you're really going to hit things with them.

"Come Again ???
Most historical cane/staff/poleweapons were made from hardwoods, with a few exceptions coming from softwood and/or grasslike materials. on all of mine that I have, and that is a fair number, I have never had a issue with the problems that you have mentioned above.I would actually argue the inverse is true. if you are going to create a shafted weapon that is going to see hard use then use a hardwood."


  • If you're looking for quality in your weapon try to find one that's made of rattan or white wax wood.  Both will hold up to just about anything.  Rattan will start to break eventually.. but when it breaks it only puffs out like a broom; its splinters will not hurt you.  White wax wood is nearly indestructible.. it's flex-ier than rattan, but it's extremely strong.  Both are good with shock absorption too, so you don't have to worry about impact.  Both are lightweight as can be for their strength, both are used by ancient martial arts and peoples to make tools and weapons still to this day.  You will not be afraid to hit things with these.  Your weapon will hold together.  They're also both decently cheap.


    "Or go with a hardwood....BTW thats what waxwood is anyway.  Trust me hardwoods are also used by ancient martial artist too. If i recall what Lowrey stated in his book on the Jo most Jo's made in feudal Japan were either oak or cedar.
    One of the problem with rattan is that it is a naturally harvested vine. this means that it is not farm grown. there are indications that staff sized rattan may soon be drying up.
    so again with my hardwood weapons i am not afraid of hitting things with them and they are cheaper than what i would pay for similar weapons at any martial arts suppliers."
  • Hardwood is ok if you want endurance/strength training with your Jo.  If you plan to play with it for many hours by yourself and build up your body with it, go for the hardwood.. but you could also go for metal pipe at this point.  Also I guess if it's hard work and craftsmanship you want you should go this route with your lathe =)

    "Or just find one about the right size, let it dry and coat it with what ever sealant you wish. it's a whole lot less work and it adds a bit of character to a weapon when compared to it's mass produced cousins in the dojo."
  • If you're looking for just a starter weapon yes do what everyone else has suggested and get a broom handle =)  My guess is if you're training Aikido jo techniques yours probably won't take much of a beating and the broom handle is cheap, lightweight and decent quality.  A very fine weapon indeed.

    "Starter weapon or just plain solo practice weapon sure a broom handle and/or Dowel rods will work for this purpose. for a weapon that will see hard use and made by it's wielder  go with the hickory, we don't have much of it where  so i have to settle for Osage Orange Smiley, but hickory is a good hard using wood"

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Re: The Jo
Reply #12 - Feb 4th, 2007 at 1:00am
 
Quote:
"Come Again ???
Most historical cane/staff/poleweapons were made from hardwoods, with a few exceptions coming from softwood and/or grasslike materials. on all of mine that I have, and that is a fair number, I have never had a issue with the problems that you have mentioned above.I would actually argue the inverse is true. if you are going to create a shafted weapon that is going to see hard use then use a hardwood."


I'm not saying they're not made from hardwoods, I'm just saying most hardwoods have every poor strength:weight raito, poor shock absorbance and splinter *very* poorly.  I've experienced quite a few hardwoods.. and broomsticks too.. that splinter in a manner that is definitely not pleasing and once they start you pretty much have to throw them away.  This is not the case with rattan and wax wood.

Quote:
"Or go with a hardwood....BTW thats what waxwood is anyway. Trust me hardwoods are also used by ancient martial artist too. If i recall what Lowrey stated in his book on the Jo most Jo's made in feudal Japan were either oak or cedar.
One of the problem with rattan is that it is a naturally harvested vine. this means that it is not farm grown. there are indications that staff sized rattan may soon be drying up.
so again with my hardwood weapons i am not afraid of hitting things with them and they are cheaper than what i would pay for similar weapons at any martial arts suppliers."


Again.. not saying that hard woods were never used, I'm sure they were as they still are today.  If you can find them for cheaper, great, but I generally cannot.. and when it comes to splintering and lifetime of a weapon I've never had one last me anytime at all - so even if I got them cheaper that would kill cost efficiency for me too since I have to buy more replacements.  I think you'll find that if you're very rough with one you could easily go through it in a day or two.. I know I have.  Not to say that you wouldn't want to throw out your rattan weapon too, but at least it wouldn't be attached to your hand like burs to your wool sweater.


But back to the topic.. again, if you're doing solo training or just light Aikido style stuff with a jo as I'd guess (sorry if I guess poorly.. just guessing.. no offense intended - I train lighter/solo maybe moreso than you do) broomstick handle all the way =)  Just giving some notes should you decide to hit much harder.
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Klarh
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Re: The Jo
Reply #13 - Feb 4th, 2007 at 4:28pm
 
Well, I'd like to have something I can both take to the dojo and use solo... and maybe make some for the whole dojo, if they're good enough.

My dad should be bringing home some spare hickory branches from his work soon, hopefully I'll be able to dry those up and make something good with them.
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Re: The Jo
Reply #14 - Feb 4th, 2007 at 10:42pm
 
Most of the commercial items I've seen are made of Chinese red oak.  I would think that the hardware store would be your friend, oak or hickory should be obtainable in the form of tool handles.  Hickory is very strong.
I was lucky, and found a broken Bo in a martial arts store for sale real cheap.  Cut off the broken end and viola, instant Jo.
If you want to work from harvested wood, the technique would be much the same as for gathering wood for making bows.  As you found out, working green wood is easy, but if not dried properly it will split, check, and warp.  Try cutting a sapling of 2-3" diameter.  (Bowyers reccomend Summer; the bark comes off easier) Remove the bark, seal the ends with rubber cement, shellac, or whatever, and store the thing somewhere where air can circulate and it won't get too hot.  Should be dry enough to work in a few weeks.
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