Sunday, October 25, 2015

Copper Multiple Tool Case

Acupuncture Tool Case
I have been asked many times to make complete kits of tools and cases and finally decided to make a case that could hold more than one tool.  These cases can be made out of copper or silver, but I really like copper because it results in a beautiful and durable case that will not be too expensive to produce.  I dressed this one up with some machined rings and a citrine gemstone setting on the lid.  The case is 3/4" in diameter and a little over 3" long.  It is lined with walnut wood that has five sections drilled for teishins, guide tubes or zanshins.  I like the wood liner but drilling the long ports for the tools is very difficult and inaccurate.  Future cases will have several sections created by using small copper tubes for them.  This should also use the space in the case more efficiently and allow storage of more tools.

Enshin Ring Part Two

Sterling Silver Enshin Ring
Recently, I was asked to make another Enshin ring.  The last one I had made was made with three different parts (a ball, dome, and shaft) that were soldered together.  Since making that one, I have really wanted to make a one piece design with flowing curves between the elements of the design.  This one was made first by carving a wax model, then casting, and further refinement and sizing by diligent filing and sanding.  This curved shape of this Enshin allows it to fit a bit more securely in the fingers and allows the ring to fit a greater range of finger sizes.

The day I finished the ring, I had a two year old girl come in for treatment. This particular girl has been poked and prodded all too much in her lifetime by medical people, so she can be particularly challenging to give a complete treatment to. Fortunately, she responds very well to acupressure and needle-less acupuncture techniques and it doesn't take much to improve her symptoms.   On this day, she was shy to get treated with a teishin so I used the Enshin ring instead.  The ring fit comfortably in my hands and with the dome portion on the palmar aspect of my fingers I was able to just hold her gently while allowing the dome stimulate the points of her abdomen, arms and legs.  I also found I could grasp along the meridians of the arms and legs while simultaneously supplying direct pressure to specific acu-points. This is a very versatile tool.  One thing that I was surprised to notice is that I wanted to use the small ball end more often when stroking the meridians, while I used the dome more often for direct pressure (actually both the dome and ball work well for direct pressure).  It is counter-intuitive that the dome would not work as well for stroking or rubbing techniques because it's gentle curve seems to lend itself to that use.  The larger surface area of the dome creates more friction so does not glide as smoothly as the small ball.  This is especially notable on skin that is sticky or moist.  Of course, the small ball is more yang and dispersing when used in this application so carefully matching the technique to the diagnosis is imperative.

I look forward to making more rings in the future.  I think that incorporating texture and fluting into the dome of the Enshin ring could facilitate more active techniques.  Stay tuned because I have really been wanting to make a derma roller ring!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A "Quiver" of Teishins Pendant

Pendant Teishin Case

Of all the tools I make, the neck needle pendants have been the ones that bring the biggest smile to my face. First off, they are just really neat. You could say they were beautiful as well, but the best way to describe them is that they just have a high "cool factor".  they are even cooler because of what they represent.  Just as we would never go on an extended wilderness backpacking trip without a first aid kit, we are expressing the importance of our medicine in a "don't leave home without it" kind of way.  This shows that we actually see what we are doing as medicine and expressing outwardly a desire to help those in need, not just when they have an appointment but when they need it.  How fitting that this miniature first aid kit resides next to our own hearts.   Because this one holds three teishins, I am calling it a "quiver."  Which reminds me of the ancient Japanese art of Kyudo or archery.   One philosophical idea from Kyudo is that the goal of Kyudo is not that the arrow must hit the target, but that the arrow pierces the heart of the shooter himself.  I think this is a wonderful idea; to believe that our acts should penetrate our very souls.  When creating work like this simple teishin case I feel like I get a glimpse of this part of my self and it gives me much joy.

This case was designed for a massage therapist (I do hate to use that limiting term for this particular client because she has learned so many other techniques and devises very intricate and specific treatment plans for her patients), that uses teishins as well as a diverse array of other treatment techniques ranging from yoga to ultrasound, crystalline sound therapy, tui na, reiki and too many more to list.  I was a bit confused at first because she wanted three identical teishins.  It turns out she has much more co-ordination than I and uses several teishins simultaneously during her treatments.  This case was made a bit differently than my other neck needle cases which are machined entirely from a solid piece of silver.  This case was fabricated from multiple layers of tubing and round bar.  Even the threads were fabricated from coils of wire instead of being cut with a die.  This results in a very attractive and durable thread.  The pendant itself is around 2.5" long, and houses three 16 gage by 2.25" teishins.  I think I will be making myself one of these, maybe with the trio of a gold, silver, and copper teishin.  Now that will be cool!

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Barreled Acupuncture Insertion Tube

This is also one of the oversized Acupuncture tubes with a 4.6mm diameter and 70mm length.  It has the diameter reduced throughout the center section to about 4.1mm so that only the ends that contact the patients skin and the practitioners oshide maintain the full diameter.  This was modeled after some steel tubes that one of my clients particularly liked.  His tubes had more of a angular/mechanical and "trumpeted" appearance, with a greater reduction in the midsection.  I wanted to maintain a little more softness and roundness to this subtle accent.  I also chose to call this effect barreling.  This is a term used in archery to describe an arrow that has been tapered and reduced in certain sections to improve its aerodynamics, and penetration.  I did not think I would like this shape, but after handling it, I have quite come to like it.  The indentation where the diameter swells fits perfectly to the thumb and middle finger when holding the tube or performing one handed reloading. The relative extra mass at the ends makes the tube want to spin in the hand during reload very smoothly.  This is very fun and functional.  I still have a personal preference for smaller diameter tubes as long as they have ample mass.  Fortunately, this feature could be built into my normal diameter tubes as well for the best of both worlds.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Oversize Acupucture Insertion Tubes

Sterling Silver Acupuncture Guide Tubes 40 and 70mm Lengths

These tubes are the longest and largest I have made yet.   Please understand these tubes are not made from generic factory made tubing, they are drilled manually from each end.  Each hole must meet perfectly in the center of the tube.  I used to think 60 mm was the longest I could make but I am happy to say that I now feel comfortable producing tubes in this length and possibly even longer lengths if I can find longer drill bits.  The top tube is 3.6 mm in diameter (which is my standard tube diameter) which for me is a great size for a consolidated oshide while the tube still has generous mass
and a comfortable tip.  The bottom two tubes are 4.6 mm in diameter and were a special request.  I love custom orders and I know every practitioner has their own preferences.  I also learn a lot from the desires of each individual practitioner and find a great deal of satisfaction in handling different shapes and sizes of each tool.  Their is no right or wrong, just different.  The key, in treatment, lies in uniting the tool, technique, patient and practitioner.  These heavier tubes feel very massive and therefore more yang, but the softness and bluntness offer a substantial yin gentleness.  An unusual combination.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Examples of Sterling Silver Zanshins
Above are four examples of zanshins.  This may seem confusing to some because many do not realize that yoneyamas are considered zanshins as well. Stephen Birch references the Ling Shu as describing the zanshin as "having a large head with a sharp tip that is inserted very shallowly."*   This description is rather vague and explains why there are differing interpretations of this tool.  Of course we do not insert the yoneyama in modern practice, but the sharp point remains useful for point stimulation. 

The omeyama yoneyama shown is my own embellishment of the classic yoneyama shape (top left).  The classic yoneyama shape that we are all familiar with has a very playful and active energetic to it.  I believe this is due to the highly dichotomous nature of the tool; a large "yang" blade combined with a small sharp point.  This makes the tool very top-heavy and urges it to oscillate when being used for point stimulation.  The length of this tool is fairly short (less than 2") which lessens the imbalance of mass caused by these two opposing ends.  This short length also makes the tool feel "handier," fitting in the fingertips and being used for quick and active stroking along the meridian with the blade or scattering with the point.  The elongated yoneyama shown is my own variation of the classic shape and makes an excellent pediatric tool. The extra length allows the pointed end to have a more stable feel for point stimulation while the blade can still be used for invigorating qi and blood on the surface.  The blade of both of these tools is very angular/sharp/yang and is quite invigorating/dispersing compared to the the yin nature of an enshin ball.

The tool that we generally think of as a "zanshin" is a long cone made by folding a pie shaped section of metal into a cone shape.  This creates a pointed end and a hollow and curved bladed end.  The bladed end can be used for point stimulation as well as being used for "pocking" the surface.  This pocking is accomplished by lightly tapping the hollow end so that it lands on the skin in a parallel plane so that a suction cup popping sound is made.  This is another method of invigorating qi and blood flow.   The zanshin shown is a variation of the classic folded tool described above, except that it is made of solid silver round bar that is forged into a point and hollowed on the other end.  I prefer making them this way and like the added mass obtained.  The tool is also smaller in diameter than the folded form, which gives both ends a much more precise feel.  The pocking effect is similar, although I would say it is slightly stronger (more dispersive) with the smaller hollow.  The reason I believe this to be true is simple physics.  The smaller hollow has a smaller surface area contacting the skin so the force is divided across that area.  For this reason, the smaller hollow end should be used in a more gentle way than its bigger brother.   The zanshin traditionally had a pointed end, but this version can be made with a ball end if you prefer (as shown).

*Birch, Stephen & Junko Ida,  Japanese Acupuncture.  Paradigm Publications, Brookline, MA. 1998.  pg. 46.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The "Micro" Teishin

The Micro Teishin (right)
Often, I have my own bias towards heavier weight acupuncture tools.  I think it comes from our innate misunderstanding and insecurity to believe that more is better.  When we see that a heavier gold teishin is much more expensive, without thought, we believe that it must be better.  The opposite may be true.  Recently, a toyohari practitioner asked me to make him a very small teishin 1 mm diameter by 57 mm long with a very small round ball end a subtle tapered blunt end on the other.  It is a joy to work with practitioners that know what they want and why they want it that way.  From their need creates the necessity and expands my own thinking about the tools and how they are used.  In these instances I am not the designer and become merely a craftsman for the execution of that design.    Often the problem solving that comes with these new designs is reward in itself.  In this instance, the challenge is creating a uniform and precise ball end on such a small diameter wire that wants to bend away from each file stroke.  I must admit the first 5 attempts were failures, but I am excited that, after a bit of practice, I can produce them consistently.  The gold teishin in the above picture, left is a fairly standard, although heavy, 14 gage (1.75mm) by 3" size.  The center teishin is sterling silver 16 gage (1.25mm) by 58mm long.  Finally, the "micro" teishin on the right is 18 gage (1.0mm) by 57mm long in 18k royal yellow gold.  I consider both the silver and gold teishin to be in the "micro" category.  The silver teishin needs to be made slightly heavier to compensate for the lighter weight and decreased rigidity inherent to silver tools.  By dropping the weight of the teishin, we gain precision, delicacy, and specificity.  The small diameter also facilitates a consolidated oshide which is crucial for optimum tonification.  All this at a lower price point that will make owning a gold teishin within the grasp of many beginning practitioners.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Omeyama Yoneyama

Omeyama  Yoneyama
The yoneyama has always been a very versatile tool for meridian therapy.  I added a little flare to this one by cutting out an Om symbol in it.  The Om also adds a degree of grip and control on the tool.  So if you are an Ayurvedic practitioner as well, this may be just the tool to get your prana flowing!
1 3/4" by 1 1/8"  sterling silver.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Weight Forward Teardrop Teishin

Teardrop Teishin

Teishin length and balance are very critical to the way the teishin feels in the hand.  When a teishin is made too long the practitioners attention begins to follow the tail end of the tool rather than the stimulating end.  This  also occurs when a teishin has one heavy tip and one fine tip.  Of course, we make teishins in this way because we like the  benefits of a multifunctional tool.  With even larger diameter teishins we add a third surface for treatment; the length of the tool (for brushing or rubbing along treatment areas).   In nature we see that some things in life are "weight forward" such as a fish or a birds wing cross-section and they are more efficient in moving forward or have a forward qi.  I have been wanting to make a teishin designed primarily around one functional end with the tool itself having a forward qi energetic.  This teishin is shaped like an elongated teardrop with most of its mass lying within the fingertips.  Another way to understand this tool is to imagine it in water.  If you held it horizontally and then released it in the water the tip would rotate downward and the tip would direct the tool straight down.  The tip can be made sharp, ball ended, or blunt while the tail end has a long graceful taper.  Having this long taper ensures the practitioner has a strong awareness of the tool's vector or directionality. Of course the tip of the tail end may still be used for treatment but you will miss the forward qi effect once you have experienced it!

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Enshin "Ring"

Enshin "Ring"

Recently I was asked to make an Enshin "Ring."  I had never handled a tool like this so I was not sure what to expect, but now I think I am in love. The enshin "ring" is held between the pointer and middle fingers (most often) and can be used to stroke, wave, tap or even grip the meridian.  This tool is very different in use than many more standard acupuncture tools because it is a very active/yang tool.  Most tools require that you use your left/yin/receptive hand in use, but this one is pure yang, belonging in the right hand and having movement as its key use.  I was feeling a bit like I was coming down with a cold the day I finished this tool and used the domed end to rub down the length of my lower leg stomach meridian, followed by tapping the balled end on points along my occipital ridge.  Immediately, the fatigue was lifted and the soreness of my throat dissipated and I was able to avoid becoming sick.  This tool is wonderful for treating broad lengths of meridian like the portions of the large intestine and stomach meridians distal to the elbows and knees and especially the length of the bladder meridian along the spine and calves.  Tapping with the balled end on the occiput and shoulder regions is very effective in dissipating shoulder tension.  I believe this tool shines in self treatment techniques such as some of the qi gong self cultivation techniques.  One of the reasons for this is that the tool fits so nicely in the hands, it takes no conscious effort to use and becomes a natural extension of the hands.  Many times when we treat ourselves, the concentration required to manipulate the tool or insert needles doesn't allow us to be fully receptive to the treatment.  This tool has reminded me how important self treatment is, not only for our own health but so that we have an understanding, as practitioners, of what our patients are experiencing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Teishin In An Enshin 3 In 1 Tool

Ever since I have made the neck needle I have been wanting to make an enshin with a teishin inside of it.   This is the first prototype and I am quite happy with it. It has a 9 mm ball end and 7 gage shaft for the enshin.  This is quite small by enshin standards but is a very useable size especially for pediatric treatments.  The teishin itself is 14 gage and very sharp.  Because the Enshin has a blunt end as well as the ball end, the teishin makes it a 3 in 1 tool.  The next version of this tool will have a classic style teishin inside of it with one blunt and one sharp end. The teishin will be separate from the Enshin and screw end cap.  This will result in a 4 in 1 tool that can be safely carried for travel or treatments on the go.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Silver Acupuncture Needles

Last December I had a client request that I make him some acupuncture needles.  This was something I had never done before so I was somewhat apprehensive and worried about liability.  Knowing the benefits of the healing metals in treatment I knew their potential could be extraordinary.  Silver is quite easy to bend especially in lighter gages, so I made the first two needles shown below quite heavy.  The two needles are approximately 18 gage, the lowest being 18k gold and the upper being silver.  The picture is deceiving because they do not look heavy, but now consider that these two needles have a 3" shaft and you will realize that only someone trained in some type of sadomasochistic healing ritual would attempt to insert them.  Well, he did and loved them, claiming benefits far superior to standard needles on the sciatic pain he was suffering from.  Recently he ordered another dozen of 1.5" and 24 gage.  These needles are shown with their fine copper insertion tube.  Unfortunately, making needles by hand is very labor intensive; each needle requiring almost as much time and attention as a teishin.  Sharpening the wobbly tips is difficult and tedious.  It is difficult to charge a price for them that is compensatory for the labor involved. I think it have talked myself out of the job.  There are companies like Maeda that specialize in these types of needles and I think I will be sending most of my clients to them.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Teishins Over the Years

Silver and Gold Teishins
Above you will see several different teishin designs that I have made over the years.  The left two were designed by my Japanese acupuncture teacher from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine; K.C. Conover.  The original was a chrome plated dental tool that he had shortened the handle and sharpened the tip of.  He lent me the original tool so that I could make a mold and produce a few copies for him.   It is an excellent design, but I feel that it is a bit top heavy and tends to make one's concentration go away from the point being stimulated.  Of course with acupuncture tools everything is a compromise; having the heavy top also makes the top useful as a heavy probe or even to be stroked along the meridian as you would use an enshin.  The shortened version of this tool on the far left has a more balanced feeling and makes an excellent pediatric tool.  Although versatile, if I were to only have one teishin, one of these two teishins would not be it.  In my opinion the most important aspect of the teishin is it's fine tip.

The two teishins to the right are a heavyweight silver teishin with machined end and a "classic" style 18k gold teishin.  The heavy silver teishin is my personal favorite.  It is made of 7 gauge sterling silver rod that is forged with heat and hammer to form the fine point.  This forging process aligns the grain of the silver making it both hard and stiff, contributing to a durable tool.  The milling on the blunt end gives it a little style while adding some traction for deeper pressure.  Because the blunt end is a larger surface area the pounds per square inch (or fraction of an inch in this case) decreases drastically compared to the sharp end.  In this way more pressure must be applied to this end of the tool to create change in the meridian.  The end milling gives just a little extra purchase and allows the user to focus on the point and not the gripping/ pinching of the shaft.   The gold teishin is more or less a classic or common teishin design.  It is made of  16 gauge gold rod, so significantly smaller diameter than the silver teishin.  18k gold is heavier (by a factor of 1.5) and stiffer than sterling of the same diameter.  This allows us to make a fine needle-like teishin that still retains good stiffness and mass to feel substantial in the hands.  When I make a sterling silver teishin in the classic design I prefer to use at least 2 gauges heavier to compensate for the lower mass and stiffness of this material.  Conversely, I find a gold teishin made of 7 gauge wire to be a bit too heavy in the hands and prefer the 16 gauge (This is also nice because the cost differences between the two sizes is substantial).  The lengths of the two teishins on the right are 3.5 and 3 inches.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

2015 Pricelist

Here is a general outline of how I price my tools.  I will list the tools I generally sell the most frequently, but I am happy to make any variation or custom order that you would like.  Gold prices are subject to change. Please contact me at or call/text me at 406-780-1387 for more information.

Insertion Tubes:
Sterling silver insertion tubes round cross-section with end milling detail:  70$ up to 52mm length
Sterling silver insertion tubes hexagonal cross-section:  75$ up to 52mm length
18k gold insertion tube round with end milling heavyweight 52mm x 7 gauge: 400$
18k gold insertion tube round lightweight: varies by needle handle diameter
 *other lengths are available please call for pricing

Heavy sterling silver teishin 3" x 7 gauge with end milling: 75$
Heavy sterling silver teishin 3.5" x 7 gauge with end milling: 82.50$
Heavy sterling silver teishin 4" x 7 gauge with end milling: 90$
18k gold  heavy teishin 3" x 7 gauge with end milling: 550$
All the above teishins can be made with a zanshin end for the same cost.
18k classic gold teishin with one ball end and one sharp end 3" x 14 gauge: 200$

Sterling silver enshin 9mm ball x 7 gauge blunt, ball or sharp ended: 125$
Sterling silver standard yoneyama: 60$
Sterling silver "fish" yoneyama: 150$
Sterling silver heragata cylindrical: 75$
Sterling silver derma roller with copper handle: coming soon!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why Guide Tubes?

(L-R) copper round, silver round, long silver round, 18K gold hexagon, silver hexagon tubes
Over the years of making acupuncture needle insertion tubes I have found that many people don't quite understand the need for them.  The majority of my orders have been for teishins, and although I believe teishins are an important part of every acupuncturists tool kit, I think practitioners are missing out on the most important tool for their arsenal.  One of the biggest reasons for their usefulness is that, since we use needles on every patient, we will use a guide tube on every patient.  As a student I used the stainless steel hexagonal guide tubes that are commonly sold.  At that time I didn't find any fault in them.  Even after making my first couple of 18k gold tubes I was not sensitive enough to notice the differences between them.  When I  made my first silver tube, I had a profound realization of their value.  I was needling the abdomen of a patient when I noticed the tube itself had an amazing softness.  The highly polished surface that can only be achieved on non-ferrous metals gave the tube a non-metallic feel.  While the stainless tubes I had been using felt inert and lifeless, the silver tube was gentle, warm, and receptive.  As I palpated this particular patient's abdomen I began to carry myself with the same energetic that the tube possessed; quiet, calm, and gentle, I began to percieve the acupuncture points on a more subtle level.  Myself becoming soft and able to receive.  My palpation became more gentle, the tube gliding into the points as if some invisible force were directing it there.  For this simple lesson they have taught me, I still find myself most enamored with the sterling silver tubes over the other metals.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How I Began Making Acupuncture Needle Insertion Tubes

Gold, Silver, and Copper Insertion Tubes
 In 2006 I began the website; specifically for the sale of gold and silver acupuncture insertion tubes (this website is no longer available).   It actually began earlier than that in my final year of acupuncture school at Pacific College; 2003, when my Japanese acupuncture teacher asked me to make him a gold tube.  I first wanted to buy manufactured tubing with a heavy wall thickness.  I could find companies that would make such tubing but they wanted orders of at least 20k dollars to make this special and unusual size.  I then attempted to make tubing by drilling both ends of some gold rod in special jig I made for my drill press.  This was a painstakingly slow process that was hardly accurate enough.  The greatest hazard was that these small drill bits were prone to binding and would often break inside the tube, wasting the precious gold.  I did come up with a couple tubes at that time but I never thought I would want to do it again.  A couple years later my father found an old Emco metal lathe at an auction and I became its lucky new owner. Although making tubes was now more accurate, the added power of the lathe was more prone to broken bits.  After making 20 tubes or so and learning many little tricks I had learned how to drill the bores for the tubes accurately, and without breakage!  Now, I could produce a heavier weight tube which felt more substantial and had gentle edges for a very comfortable needle insertion. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Neck Needle Pendant

Neck Needles;
My brother, his wife and children have all gotten into barefoot running. Impressively after only 6 months my brother is up to 20 miles barefoot and his wife 12!  They are truly inspirational.  We did quite a bit of running with them last thanksgiving and really enjoyed it, unfortunately living in Montana makes it difficult to run without shoes year round, since your feet would soon become purple, frost bitten and gangrene from the bitter cold.  Where they live in Prescott, AZ. They can run year long in the desert but they do have plenty of thorns.  This is why my Christmas gift to them this year were neck needles.  These were hand turned from solid sterling bar, first hollowed then threaded,   and decorated with some milling accents.  Finally a stainless needle was made that fit in the handle (a sterling silver needle could also be made which would fit in the handle for a portable teishin).  Now they always have a needle around their neck for when they "forget" their shoes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shonishin Tools

This was a recent commission of Shonishin tools for Shaun Sutton from the United Kingdom.  I must say I really enjoy my clients from the UK, they are exceptionally polite, kind, and insightful.  They also make me feel the acupuncture education there is superior to the United States, or at least the continuing education possibilities are much more extensive.  It is always nice to get clients that are full of new ideas and I get to learn something new or have to try some new techniques in my tool making.  Shaun sent me a copy of his book; "How Toxic Are My Trousers," and I highly recommend it.  Shaun is a man of great sensitivity and thinks very deeply about the way he lives.  He has even chosen as an acupuncturist to not use standard stainless needles, because he finds the metal does not resonate with him personally and therefore influences the treatment in a negative way.  I feel blessed to work with someone with such high standards that shares my love for silver acupuncture tools.

From top to bottom you will find a modified honeybee shaped heragata, a teishin/enshin, and a fish shaped yoneyama.  Shaun has a 7 month old daughter so she is one lucky girl!   Heragatas are generally flat but this one was made cylindrical so that there are no sharp edges.  The blunt end glides smoothly over the skin and has a wonderful warming effect, while the "stinger" may be used to stimulate specific points.  The teishin/ Enshin is finer than most enshins with a 9 mm ball.  I feel this size is much nicer for general treatment and has a very nice balanced feel.  The "fisheyama" has a normal yoneyama tail while the dorsal fin is also sharpened for a larger yoneyama blade surface while the belly is more gentle and round for techniques such as guasha.  The nose is good for stimulation of individual points and "fish kisses."  I love setting stones in my yoneyamas so this one received a blue topaz.
Shonishin Tools