CARE AND FEEDING OF
JAPANESE PUZZLE BOXES
Wood moves. It expands and contracts with changes
in humidity. The wood acts like a sponge absorbing moisture from the air and expanding as
humidity rises, and shrinking as humidity decreases. Movement is greatest across the grain
(tangential movement), and least with the grain (lateral movement). Some wood species are
more stable than others. Mahogany moves very little, oak moves quite a bit.
The amount of movement is also related to how the board was cut from
the log. Wood that has been quartersawn is the most stable, and will expand
and contract without warping. Plane sawn wood is prone to warping, and
cupping, and other deformations if it dries out too fast. Warping and other
deformation happens when the humidity changes too rapidly. Slow change in humidity will
result in the wood shrinking or expanding, but not deforming. Thats why air dried
lumber is usually of better quality (and more expensive) than kiln dried wood.
Japanese puzzle boxes are often made from a variety of cedar. Cedar
is light weight and easy to work but is not known for its stability. There is a risk that
the boxes offered on this page may dry out and become too loose in winter (when humidity
drops), and expand and become too tight in summer (when humidity rises).
This is normal for these boxes, and we cannot guarantee that your box will remain stable. We
store our inventory of Japanese Puzzle Boxes in a humidity controlled environment, and we
check each box for proper operation - you'll find our inspection tag inside each one.
Heres what some puzzle collectors have told us they do to keep their boxes working
* Keep your boxes away from direct sunlight and away from heat
sources like radiators and
heat vents, and other heat sources like the top of televisions or
other electrical devices.
* Keep your boxes in a glass display case or china cabinet with a
glass of water or a damp
* Keep your boxes in Zip Lock plastic bags.
* Use a humidifier in your home in winter and an air conditioner in
summer to keep the humidity
in your home at a moderate level - not too dry, and not too damp.
If your Japanese Puzzle Box does become too loose or too
tight, dont despair. If you wait until the season changes the box may restore itself
to its original condition. If it has dried out DONT wet it - if it has swelled
DONT dry it in an oven. Remember, fast changes will deform wood.
Fingernails are very damaging to the finish of Hakone
* Use the gripper pad we supply to move the sliding keys, or
* Use rubber finger tips, or
* Use a big soft rubber eraser.
Japanese puzzle boxes have a hard lacquer finish and
do not need to be waxed, but if you find you want to additional luster to your box you may
wax it as follows: Use a quality furniture or woodworking wax applied by hand, not
sprayed. Apply sparingly and only to lacquered outside portions of the box. Keep in mind
that waxing it will make the surfaces slippery, which you may not find desirable.
Do not use oil, as it can seep into working parts and collect dust, gumming things up
One last comment - Always store your box in the closed
position. A day or two open is okay, but longer may affect how the lid rests on the box.