Things You'll Need
- Branch-free tree trunk (approximately 6 feet long and 4 to 6 inches wide)
- Hardwood edges
- Froe or sharp ax
- Cane splints
- Hickory shoots
If you want to make a strong, durable basket out of wood you can gather from your own backyard, these step-by-step instructions will show you how. Although you can use almost any type of wood, ash is best suited for basket-making, as its inner rings are separated by a spongy layer that gives flexibility to the wood. Whichever wood type you choose, a homemade wood splint basket will serve as both a utilitarian and decorative piece for years to come.
Soak the log for at least 1 month in order to loosen up the bark and break up the spongy layers.
Score the pre-soaked and stripped log with a sharp knife using two parallel lines.
Use a heavy object to hammer one end of the log until the ends begin to separate.
Continue to pound on the area between the scored lines all the way down the log.
Pull the strips up when they come loose, pounding any spots that are still stuck to the trunk.
Cut nine splints that are 22 inches long, 11 splints 20 inches long, and seven that are 6 feet long. All splints should be 1 inch wide. Begin to weave.
Weave one of the 20-inch splints through three of the 22-inch splints.
Alternate weaving from right to left and from left to right. Add 10 more 20-inch splints.
Weave six 22-inch splints into the basket, alternating between the side closest to you and the side furthest from you.
Score the splints along the edge of the woven portions, and turn the basket upside-down.
Bend the scored splints upwards, and weave the 6-foot splint around the circumference.
Cut off the ends of the inside, top splints.
Split each splint that comes up on the outside of the top in half with scissors. Peel into a point.
Fold the points into the weave, and tuck them in.
Make the hickory handle by tying pre-soaked shoots into a curve, and allow to dry.
Mark the splint width on either side of the handle with a pencil.
Cut notches where you have marked, and sharpen the ends to insert them into the sides of the basket.
Reinforce the rims with two 6-foot wood shavings held in place with cane.
Insert the cane splint into the inside rim of the basket, and “sew” the cane over and under the rim, all the way around. Double up the stitching around the handles, and continue to sew. Wrap twice where the ends of the cane meet.
Have your handles ready the day before you make your basket by soaking the hickory shoots overnight, and bending them into a "U." If you don't want to wait until the wood is soaked to use it for basket-making, you may use a froe or ax and wedges to help split the wood with a mallet. Unsoaked wood is much harder to work with, so pre-soaking is advisable.
Wood edges can be sharp or may contain splinters. Use sandpaper to smooth wood, and wear protective gloves to protect your hands.
- Mike Benedict