Weaving Wood
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A Practical Guide to Traditional Woodcraft By Roy Underhill

A Melon Basket

The two hoops that frame this egg basket are joined to themselves with hook-and-eye splices.

The two hoops that frame this egg basket are joined to themselves with hook-and-eye splices. Set one hoop inside the other and lash their intersection with long, narrow strips woven into "eyes." The pattern that I use goes around each arm, comes back around under itself, and then on to the next. Leave the long end of the strip attached.

Whittle at least four 1/8-to-3/l6-inch ribs from the heartwood left over from making the splits.
Whittle at least four 1/8-to-3/l6-inch ribs from the heartwood left over from making the splits. The larger and finer the basket, the more ribs you will need. Point the ends of the ribs and stick them into the eye on the side that will be to the bottom. Put half the ribs on one side and half on the other side of the hoop that will form the keel of the basket. Take the end of the eye strip and start to weave in and out. This locks the ribs in place.
Weave an eye on the other side if you have not done so already. Bend the ribs over into the shape that you want the basket to take.
Weave an eye on the other side if you have not done so already. Bend the ribs over into the shape that you want the basket to take. Point them and stick them in the second eye as before. Do the same sort of weaving on this side as you did on the other.
 When you feel the need to do so, add more ribs evenly to both sides by just sticking them into the weaving as best you can.
When you feel the need to do so, add more ribs evenly to both sides by just sticking them into the weaving as best you can.
 Continue weaving the two ends toward one another.

Continue weaving the two ends toward one another. When a strip runs out, simply lap another in on top of it—no splice, just overlap. The two sides will meet in the middle, and there's your baske

 

White-oak baskets come in many variations. I will show you a moderately complex one known as a melon or gizzard basket.

The handle and rim of this basket are formed by two hoops set into each other at right angles. The intersections of the hoops are joined by lashings called "eyes." These two eyes also hold the ends of the initial ribs that are added to form the rest of the frame. Within this framework of ribs and hoops narrow splits, or "weavers," are interwoven to complete the body of the basket.

The hoops are relatively heavy splits about 1/8 inch thick and about i inch wide. These hoops are joined with hook-and-eye splices with the free ends put to the inside. The size of these hoops determines the size of the basket, so that is up to you.

Lash the two hoops together with a very thin and narrow length of split. The pattern that you use for the eye is often your trademark, so beyond the sequence shown here I'll leave you to discover your own. Leave the ends of the eye lashings long, as they will be used to hold the ribs in place.

Whittle the ribs from heartwood, 1/8 inch in diameter for small baskets, 1/4 inch for larger ones. Sharpen the ends of four ribs and stick them into one of the eyes as best you can, two on each side of the hoop. You can put in more ribs for larger or finer baskets; just make sure to use equal numbers, on both sides of the hoop. Take the end of the eye strip and weave it in and out of the ribs and hoops until the ribs are firmly held in place.

Now go to the other end of the basket and bend over the ribs to meet the other eye in the shape that you want the basket to take. Cut the excess length off the ends and sharpen them so that you can stick them into this eye just like you did before. Lock these ends down with the length from the eye weaving and the beginning frame is ready.

Take a long, thin split and tuck it in to take up where the extra from the eye left off. Continue weaving along until this split runs out and then start back on the other end. You don't need to splice each added piece, just overlap.

Weave toward the middle from both ends until you feel the need to add more ribs. Stick these down into the previous weaving and then carry on. Your weaving will meet in the middle and you're all done.


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"The Woodwright's Companion: Exploring Traditional Woodcraft" By Roy Underhill
© 2012 The University of North Carolina Press

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