Introduction: Japanese Latticework-Inspired Kumiko Coasters

Kumiko is a delicate lattice-like Japanese woodworking technique that involves slatting together many small wooden pieces together without nails. It is traditionally only used for shoji room dividers, sliding doors, and ramma (which are decorative wooden pieces that sit above traditional Japanese doors). It has been around since the Asuka era, 600-700 AD, and artisans normally use cedar with fine grain and lots of time and patience. If you're interested in learning more about this intriguing woodcraft, check out Tanahita Co., which is a kumiko workshop located in Toyama Prefecture in Japan.

This instructable is inspired by this exquisitely intricate technique. In this tutorial, however, we'll use a laser cutter and thin plywood instead of the high quality wood, time, and patience required to build real kumiko latticework.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Materials

Laser cutter

1/8" plywood

Wood stain (optional)

Sandpaper (If you're planning on staining the wood, you probably don't need sandpaper, but I recommend it if you don't plan to use any stain)

Step 2: Download File

I've designed 8 different kumiko coaster designs, and I've provided an Adobe Illustrator AI file and a PDF of the vector design.

Step 3: Laser Cut

I used a Universal Systems laser cutter to cut the design out of 1/8 inch thick plywood.

Step 4: Staining

I wanted the coasters to contrast against my maple dining table, which is lighter in color, and so I used a dark brown wood stain to finish off the coasters. Using a paper towel or a brush, swipe one thin layer of stain on one side of the coasters. Let them sit to dry for 2 hours, then flip over and stain the other sides. Let dry for a few hours.

I didn't bother with sanding the coasters, since the dark wood stain covered the smoke stains from laser cutting. However, for aesthetic purposes, if you choose not to stain, I recommend sanding both sides of the coasters to remove the smoke stains.

Step 5: Enjoy!

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