The great advantage of the abacus is that the user acquires a great ability to perform calculations with great speed. As a college professor, I am always looking into new ways to interest my students and make them learn much more than just the class topic. This semester I am showing them how to use an abacus and I decided to built my own. You can easily find them online but there is a special feeling of completing your own abacus.
As I am a new user of the abacus and can still only add and subtract, I decided to built the simpler version. That is the Japanese Abacus named Soroban with 4 beads in the lower part and 1 bead in the top part. Nevertheless, the technique can easily be modified for the Chinese abacus, Suaban, with 5 beads in the lower section and 2 beads in the top… or even the “Mayan version” with 4 beads in the lower part and 3 beads on the top as they calculate on a basis of 20.
Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed
• Beads (to make a 13 row abacus I needed 65 beads)
• Shish kabob sticks that would fit into te beads (one stick per row so I used 13)
• A piece of balsa wood 36”x3”x ¼”
• Crazy glue
• Sand paper
• Xacto knife
• Aluminum ruler
• Pencil to mark the wood
• Small hand saw
• Drill with bit the size of the shish kabob sticks
Step 2: Determining the Size of Your Abacus
Step 3: Drilling Holes for the Sticks
Step 4: Inserting the Beads for the Lower Section of the Abacus
Step 5: Finishing the Top Section
Step 6: Gluing the Sticks to the Balsa
Step 7: Finishing It Up
• Using ¾” width balsa turned out to be too thick for the center piece. Sliding the top bead is difficult so I suggest using a divider the same size of the beads.
• You can dye it and decorate it as you wish to make it truly personal.
I AM SURE YOU WILL FIND THE ABACUS EXTREMELY INTERESTING!
It is fascinating to use and you can find how to use it following this link:
Step 8: Final Remarks
• You can dye it and decorate it as you wish to make it truly personal. Just be careful to protect the beads so they slide free.