Making a Coastal Arch Stone Daiza

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in California, I always loved taking my motorcycle on a ride to the coast! The smell of the ocean, winding roads and the coastal landscape always appealed to me.

Near Santa Cruz, there was a little natural bridge that kids you to go to for enjoying the waves and parties. I thought the bridge was cool. When I got into viewing stones and saw that there was coastal stones, I couldn’t wait to make one!

I was at the Redwood Empire Bonsai show this year and my friend Dave was selling these volcanic rocks to plant bonsai in. When I saw this stone laying on its side, I immediately in my mind saw its potential and knew EXACTLY what I was going to do with it!

I took the stone and set it behind me. Another friend of mine from the Napa Bonsai Club, John Holt, came by and asked what I was going to do with it. I told him that I had made an interesting daiza for a friend’s Japanese stone that looked like sand that had been washed over with waves and I was going to do the same with this stone only much taller.

He saw my vision and told me that when I finished it, if I was going to sell it, to contact him as he thought it was a great idea and wouldn’t mind owning it. I told him I would.

Ten minutes later, he comes back with his own stone from Dave and said “Better yet, Jerry, do that with this one!” and commissioned me to make the daiza.

So now it was up to me to make them and I thought I might photograph the process so others might see how I did it.

First I set the stone on the Sapele Wood board and draw rough circles around it.

Then I start using my power carver to carve just a little at a time. I then place the stone on and off the board several times  using carbon paper to mark. I just keep carving the dark marks from the carbon paper off until I am happy with the way the stone fits with no wobble.

Next is to draw the cut line around the stone and cut it out on the scroll saw.  I made it kind of a flowing line.

After that is to draw the flowing lines for the “layers of sand” and to start machining them, highest to lowest.

I leave room between the straight router bit cut and line to use the round core box bit to make the transition a “swoop”.

Next item up is to mark the placement of the feet. I save a lot of time carving by routing between the feet with a bevel bit.

After that is to flip the daiza over to take off the material between the feet so that the daiza only sits on the feet and not the whole bottom of the daiza. This makes the daiza look better and prevents scratching all over the bottom of the wood.

Now I pull out my power carver with the typhoon bit on it and smooth carve all the edges and the “swoop” of the feet.

Now it is all about the sanding! I like my mouse sander and I use the best hook and loop paper made by Klingspores. I sand them four times, 120 grit, 220 grit, 360 grit and then 500 grit which is a foam backed sandpaper that smooths everything out.

Last step is spraying with 2 coats of sanding sealer, 2 coats of satin lacquer and rub some furniture wax on with 000 synthetic steel wool.

I think these stones are majestic and deserve a nice daiza.

Can you hear the waves washing in and out under the arch ?

This is the one I made for my friend John.

About artofthedaiza

Daiza maker and Bonsai Stand maker.
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5 Responses to Making a Coastal Arch Stone Daiza

  1. I love the idea of these waves, very original and really well fitting! Awesome Job!

  2. Jessie Edwards says:

    As a fellow creator of daiza I congratulate you on jobs extremely well done. I am an 80 year old “lady” living in South Africa having been in the suiseki game for years and wieding a mean router and dremel I understand your enthusiasm.

  3. bonsaipotter says:

    You are really a very inventive guy. Just to see the finished piece is very nice. To see how you went from an idea through working the wood to the finished piece is fantastic. Thanks for sharing the way you work the wood as well as so many views of the finished piece.

  4. Brian VF says:

    Very creative and beautiful work!

  5. JWisse says:

    Thank you for posting. Part of the reason I am getting into Bonsai is to have full creative control, and I’ve wanted to learn how to create Daiza as part of my exploring this hobby. Come this summer I’m going to have to pull out the router and Dremel and experiment with this process.

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