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