DIY Kotatsu - Build your own kotatsu!

Some people might feel that buying a complete kotatsu set is too expensive, or they just prefer to have their own unique kotatsu. In that case building your own kotatsu can be a great solution. Since there are different ways in which you can build your own kotatsu, this is not intended to be a definitive guide. My goal here is to give you a few key pointers that should be useful when planning to build your own DIY kotatsu.

There are basically three things that you really need to consider about when building a ‘do it yourself’ kotatsu:

  1. Table with a heat resistant top.
  2. Heating element.
  3. Futon
  4. (Optional) a step-down voltage transformer

As you probably can imagine, you also need appropriate tools to fix everything together.

Different ways in which to build a kotatsu:

Let’s discuss some ways in which you can construct or use the different elements that build up your kotatsu. Like I already said, there is not one way, and it is really up to you how you design your kotatsu.

1. Table with a heat resistant top.

Please make sure that the table top of your choice can resist elevated temperatures for a sustained period of time. If you are not sure if your table top is suitable, please verify with the seller if it is or not. If you are having doubts about the heat resistibility of your table top you might consider fitting a heat resistant mat or something similar between the table top and the heating element to significantly reduce the amount of heat that leaks into the table top.

2. Heating element

You can buy specific kotatsu heating elements online, but basically any kind of heating element will do fine. When purchasing a heating element please make sure that it fits under your table, and preferable is not too wide. (The closer the heating element is located to the table top the higher the chance of accidentally touching it.) Also check the voltage that is required for the warmth element of your choice. You might need to purchase a step-down voltage transformer in order to use it.

3. Futon

Again, you can buy a designated futon suited for your table, or you can try to make your own. While designated futons usually have a gap in the middle to make space for the table, this is not really necessary. A friend of mine made his own kotatsu and he used an old 2-person blanket as a futon. Instead of creating a gap in the middle to make space for the table he put blanket over the table, and screwed a second plate on top of it. This resulted in the futon being ‘sandwiched’ between the two table tops. Especially for people who are not really good at sowing this is a great way to repurpose a blanket as a futon.

Once you have acquired or constructed all the separate elements you simple follow the basic design rules of a kotatsu. Fix the heating element under the table, and attach the futon to the table so that it will trap the heat generated by the heat element.

If you have made a kotatsu yourself, and would like to share it with the other readers of this site do not hesitate to send me some pictures of your design!