Pensai Table #1: Motivation and Design

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Blog entry by chscholz posted 02-16-2010 05:50 AM 1842 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Pensai Table series Part 2: Version -0.75 »

Like in any project I had hoped that I would have completed this long ago. But since I still feel I am at the very beginning with the project, why not document the process. Maybe someone can get some inspiration or, what is infact more likely, y’ll will have valuable suggestions on how to move this project forward.

The idea is simple: SWMBO has become interested in Pensai (or Bonsai if you prefer the Japanese pronunciation). Any self-respecting pensai artist needs a pensai table, and that’s where I come in.

The function of the table is simply to support fledgling pensais in their training pots. Since pensai is a time consuming art, trees need to be continuously monitored, watered, fertilized, “trained”, etc. it is of great advantage to present the trees in training to the artist at a convenient height, in other words, build a custom pensai table.

The table will remain outside in a shaded area, not really protected against the elements.

Of course one could simple get a few pieces of lumber at the local BORG, nail them together and make a simple table in just a few hours; but that would be too easy, wouldn’t it.

Pensai was originally invented in China, so why not combine two things and build a Chinese-style table using Chinese joinery. This way, I figure, I can train my woodworking skills as well as produce something that is potentially useful. If it does not work out as expected, not to worry, that table will never be seen anyhow.

Like any good project, it all starts with a design. I decided to go the cheap route and use 2×4’s from the local BORG. And to make it even more fun, I added a four simple rules:

Rule #1: Only hand-tools shall be permitted for this project
Rule #2: Glue shall not be used
Rule #3: The table shall not use any metal fasteners or metal objects of any kind
Rule #4: The table shall not use any dowels/pegs or similar objects

Consulting one of my favorite books, Gustav Ecke’s “Chinese Domestic Furniture”, I came up with the this design.

Pensai Table Design

-- Chris Scholz, Arlington, TX,

3 comments so far

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4099 days

#1 posted 02-16-2010 11:17 AM

Quite a challenging bit of joinery!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3330 days

#2 posted 02-16-2010 05:21 PM

Invented in China using Chinese joinery. Sounds like a good and interesting project. What is the local Borg? Is that a Chinese lumberyard? We don’t have any Borg stores in my area.

View chscholz's profile


36 posts in 4098 days

#3 posted 02-17-2010 04:42 AM

Thanks, Dez, yes, challenging and way beyond my skill level.

WhoDat, the Borg is a short hand for the local big box store such as Home Dopot or Lowes known for cheap lumber.

-- Chris Scholz, Arlington, TX,

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