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As soon as I got the bowl lathe done – we finally got real summer weather; mid-to-high 80s, humid. So I’ll wait some on the bowls. Back to doing basket stuff – soaked in water most of the day, easy to do in the heat.

I’m about as interested in amateur video-making as I am in performing home lobotomies. But I have tried a couple times to get one particular basket technique on video – peeling the splints. I had written about it before – http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/peeling-ash-splints/  with still photographs – but you can’t get how this really works without either seeing it or doing it. 

You can peel the splints bit by bit, between your knees, working it with your fingers – inch by inch really. In the earlier post, I showed a wooden jig that you pull the splint through to do it quicker. I have no idea what it’s called. I have seen old ones in photographs, usually of Native basketmakers. The old ones are configured differently; but the function is the same. I made this one to be held in a vise; the old ones were held between the basketmaker’s knees. Think of it as a mini-riving brake – there’s a groove in the middle of this 2-piece wooden jig. The splint slides loosely through the groove. 

pull

As I said in the earlier post, I soak the splint for a short while, score part-way through its thickness with a knife, and slide it up through the “brake.” Then pull the tabs apart, dividing the splint. Here’s a case where video really helps. You can’t believe how effective this is.  see how quickly you can pull the splint, dividing it into two perfectly smooth splints. 

[the video is one of those "press the button, walk into the scene bits" so wait a few seconds. then it's over in a heartbeat. But then you divide the next splint, then the next...]

 

 

 I took a break from basket making last week to finally build myself a dedicated lathe for turning bowls. Mine is based on the ones we used when I was a student this spring in Robin Wood’s bowl-turning course at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/bowl-class-tip-of-the-iceberg/

I think I first saw this style of lathe in the book Wood and Woodworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York, by Carole A. Morris (York Archeaological Trust/Council for British Archeaology, 2000), then in the work done by Robin Wood and others…

First off, I jobbed out the long slot cut in the 3″ thick beech plank. I traded Michael Burrey some carving work for his labor – I coulda done it, if I wanted to…

bench slot

 

Then came boring the hole for the legs. Legs like these angle out in two directions; to the side, and to the end. I mark out two angled lines off a centerline to help me sight one angle for these legs. Then use an adjustable bevel aligned on this line to get the other. This is based on the ideas I learned from Curtis Buchanan and Drew Langsner in making windsor chairs. (Drew is teaching a session at Woodworking in America that covers in detail this notion – setting the geometry to get these angles right. http://www.woodworkinginamerica.com/ehome/woodworkinginamerica.com/WIA2014/?&& )

In a case like a bench, or this lathe – I’m not too concerned about these being “just exactly perfect.” 

auger

 

This spiral auger is probably a nineteenth century one; it’s about 1 1/4″ or so…some now call it a T-auger, but it’s really just an auger. The ones that fit in braces are auger bits.

twist

 

A detail showing the bevel to help line things up. 

auger detail

 

Here’s a bird’s eye view – showing how the auger aligns with the scribed line on the bench. So you sight that, centered on the line, then the bevel takes care of the 2nd angle. 

sight

 

Here’s the two poppets set into the slot. One taller than the other, these could have been longer still, but I worked with what I had. These are oak cutoffs from timber work. 

big poppet little poppet

 

Now wedge from below. I just eyeballed the angled mortise, then made wedges to fit. 

wedges

wedge detail

 

The shorter poppet gets a bent pike inserted in the top. Then I slid this over to the taller poppet, to mark where I’ll bore for the straight pike. 

bent pike detail

 

Jumped ahead a step or two – here’s the tool rest arrangement. The tool rest support is just wedged into a slot cut in the outside face of the taller poppet. The too rest is pivoted into the top of the smaller poppet. Simple. 

tool rest

 

a 14′ sapling, lashed at its bottom end to a small tree on the bank above me, then resting in the cruck of two 2x4s – Now, the transition from the relatively still craft of basketmaking, to the aerobic craft of bowl turning. I need some practice. 

practice

bowl

 

Business first = I spent part of a recent evening blabbing about me & woodworking to Cory Mickelson  http://craftsmansroad.com/ . I understand why it’s a “-cast” but I don’t know what the “pod” part is… I couldn’t get to it from the website; and used Itunes to hear it. Once it started, I shut it off. I can’t listen to me. Cory was very nice – some of you might want to hear it. for some reason. 

 

But finally – birds.  Daniel & I have been making some early morning trips to try to get shots of the glossy ibis and Little Blue Heron that our friend Marie told us about over in Marshfield. Today we had great views of 2 of the ibises; the Little Blue Heron –  which you will note is white – was not too far, but still far enough that we couldn’t get good photos. The young LB Herons aren’t yet blue/purple like the adults. 

backlit glossy ibis

2 ibises

ibis better light

lbh

lbh walkin

 

To really see these birds; let’s swipe photos from Marie – hers are great…she had a Great Blue Heron one day she was there – Daniel & I saw him there one morning, but not today. then the ibis & the Little Blue Heron. 

Marie's GB Heron head_bill_close-crop

Marie's glossy mouth-open

Marie's LB Heron

Basket bottoms. Two of our household baskests; c. 1987-90. The one on the left is a standard item; square bottom, round top. Ash with hickory rims; hickory bark lashing. The one on the right is our colored-pencil basket. Gets lots of use. A rectangular basket, all ash, rims either oak or hickory.

2 baskets

Here’s the bottom of the square one. Typical weave, resulting in openings between the uprights. Probably most splint baskets are like this.

open bottom

Here’s what I call a “filled” bottom – thin and narrow filler strips woven between the uprights.

filled bottom

 

The filled bottoms of baskets are made a few different ways. One is to make a round basket, with “spokes” laid out to form the bottom and sides. I do these with 16 uprights; laid out in 2 batches of 8 spokes. Here’s the underside of our laundry basket; showing this spoke bottom from below.

ash basket detail 2

Each upright, or spoke, is cut into an hourglass shape; so its middle section is narrower than its ends. This makes it easier to weave these things all close together. One spoke is cut in 2, down to the middle. This photo shows these first 8 pieces; the one my left hand is on has been cut down the middle to make an odd number of uprights.

first 8

I then take a thin, narrow weaver and start to weave these 8 pieces (9 really…) together.

weaving

 

Once the weaver makes a few trips around you get out to the point at which you can add in the next 8 pieces. I add these pieces one at a time, the weaver catches each one in turn and binds it to the section already woven. No need now to split one of these; things are up & running now. Around & around this goes, and you bend things upright after a certain point, to begin to form the basket’s shape.

 

setting in 2nd bottom

 

The other filled bottom is a rectangular (I guess it could be square too, but I always made then rectangles) bottom, with filler strips laid in between the uprights. In this case, there’s 3 different pieces to deal with – the short uprights, the long dittos, and the thinner filler strips. These are just a bit longer than the finished bottom of the basket. So I start with laying the long uprights down, with filler strips between them. Then alternate in the short uprights over & under the previous bits. It gets a little complictated – it’s like when I teach joinery and carving – now for 2 consecutive thoughts, and sometimes 3.

This photo shows the first 3 of each upright, with 2 narrow thin fillers between the long uprights (those that run across this photo horizontally) Then I add in each kind of splint in pairs, the longs/shorts/fillers- as the case might be. I always work out from the center. Easier to keep things even that way. Usually.

 

 

filled bottom

I’ve got the polished satin-y finish of the fillers inside the basket – they appear bright white in the photo. Remember, all this stuff is very wet as I weave it.

filled bottom 2

This is the finished laid-up bottom. Next is to tuck the filler strips in.

filled bottom before turning fillers up

I bend them back on themselves, and tuck them under the the 3rd upright -they have to go over the first two because of the weaving pattern. It just is. Then pull it tight, and trim it off just under the upright.

weaving fillers in

snipping fillers

I wove two bottoms like this, then piled up some weaving material; and will re-soak these and weave up the bodies next time I get the basket stuff out. Maybe tomorrow, it’s nice work for a hot day.

 

ready to weave filled bottom baskets

Last week was basket week – and today I’ve started some new work, but I’ll show you what I did last week. Basket work will go on, but as a time-filler. I have enough baskets woven, or started, that I can pick them up here & there for an hour or two. Like many woodworking projects; most of the effort in basket-making is preparing the materials. I have written before about pounding the splints from an ash log   – here’s links to old posts on the subject. I have some new posts coming up about peeling the splint, but in the meantime…

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/extra-curricula-work-baskets-spoons/

http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2012/12/22/peeling-ash-splints/

But right now, this post is about weaving up the basket bodies. Handles and rims are for another time. The basket itself is made up of the uprights and weavers. “Uprights”  is  something of a misnomer, because although they bend up to be the sides of the basket, they also form the bottom. 

Uprights are generally heavier (thicker, and wider most often too) and weavers thinner and narrower. So a big part of the work is sorting and sizing the material. 

If the splint is too thin to divide (or peel) then I scrape it smooth. This makes it less fuzzy, and also thins it some. Better for weaving. These pieces are uprights in the basket. To scrape it, I pull the splint across a piece of leather on my knee – then hold the knife in place to scrape it as I pull back…don’t do it w/o the leather! My them braces the knife blade so it stays stationary. 

scraping

Then you have to trim them to the desired width. The baskets I was working on last week had around 25-30 uprights. Round baskets have 16, another time. those pictures are on a different camera. 

scissors

 

Once you have all your uprights and weavers; you lay them out, this basket has long and short weavers; to form a rectangular bottom. I start with 3 going each way, and weave them one under the other, this way & that. Then add pieces side to side, and north & south. Here, I am weaving a single thin weaver around the perimeter of the basket’s bottom. This binds them together, keeps them from shifting around as I begin weaving the body. Some refer to this piece as a “keeper” – it keeps the uprights in place. 

keeper

Some baskets have independent weavers – each horizontal row is a separate weaver. This is easy to do, but wastes a lot of material. So there’s lots of ways to weave a continuous spiral around the basket. But to do this and keep alternating where the weaver goes under and over the uprights, you need an odd number of uprights. You can split one, or add one. (or do one of several other approaches – but I usually split or add)  – Here I added an upright, and tapered it to become the first weaver too. It’s towards the upper right hand corner of the photo – follow that bendy upright, and you see it weaves into the others. Then you just keep adding & overlapping each new weaver as one runs out. I overlap them for 2 uprights. 

 

 

added upright & wever

 

 

Then you just keep on weaving. I periodically dunk everything in the water, especially outdoors in summer. I want this stuff damp. Once I’ve gone around a bit, I gently bend things up and then cinch the weaver in tight as I go. 

weaving

 

basketry 3

A basket like this has an “open” bottom – there are spaces between the uprights. That’s the most common form I make. but there is one we have around the house that is closed or “filled” in the bottom. 

filled bottom before turning fillers up

Next time I’ll show you how I lay that up. 

Don’t forget – the spoons are posted and ready to go. The spoon rack I had sold, and one reader asked if I would make another – of course I will! Anytime you see something like that – if you missed it, and would like to order one, I’d be happy to oblige. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-august-2014/

 

The spoons, a frame-and-panel and one spoon rack for sale now – the top of the blog, or this link. . http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/spoons-more-august-2014/  If you’d like to order something, leave a comment. I can send a paypal invoice, or you can send a check. As always, I appreciate everyone’s interest in my work.

 

Meanwhile, but here’s today’s blog post. I have some stuff underway that I haven’t put on the blog much, because I haven’t made more than a few baskets a year in 2 decades. This is the scene these days. Baskets, and more baskets. I used to make these a lot, before there was joinery. It really is exciting to explore them again; but I’m having to re-learn stuff I used to know pretty well.  Today I had to make a slitting tool too, to slice up the narrow horizontal weavers. I’ll shoot it tomorrow when I use it again. I had one once, but it got lost in the shuffle 20 years ago I guess.

 

the scene

I decided to dedicate a whole week, maybe more, to making baskets. It’s been so long since I made more than one or two…and the only way it’s going to come back to me is for me to do it over & over.

 

basketry 1

basketry 2

basketry 3

Earlier in the week, I was shaving and bending some white oak for handles & rims. I’ll fit those on this weekend. I like the white oak even better than hickory for bending. The King of Woods, Daniel O’Hagan used to say…

riving white oak

shaving horse work

 

back to the week that was…when we attempted to make 10 or 11 joined chests in no time at all. Knuckleheads. 

after all the riving and hewing; we hauled some of the stock into town to begin the task of planing it into boards. I’ll just bop the pictures in, then add whatever I can remember about it. Here’s Steven planing just like I showed him…

 

planing

Roy was astounded at the amount of shavings produced by working green wood

shavings pile up

roy & shavings

 

 

 

 

 

One of our un-named students works in a pointy building on the east coast, and to help him out, Roy put up surveillance cameras throughout the classroom..

woodwright cam

A broom wouldn’t do it, so Roy got out a pitchfork…

roy & shavings 2 roy & shavings 3

 

 

Elia couldn’t stand the idea of sending those shavings to the landfill, so we piled them in his truck.

off they go

 

We did get further along eventually; chopping mortises, over & over & over again. 

http---makeagif.com--media-8-20-2014-pYq8lu

 

Then plowing grooves, cutting tenons, test-fitting. 

plowing

 

layout

 

fitting

There was lots of documentation, 

it's horrible

 

until the last couple days, when I lost track of all – I spent 1/2 of the last 2 days with a checklist, “do you have all your muntin stock?” I never did get it all straight. it’s hard to keep track of 250 piece of oak that all look pretty much the same. 

Then one day Steven emerged from Ed’s store upstairs and everyone ran to his bench like it was Xmas morning – “whaddja get?” – so we had a show & tell…

xmas presents

Just another week at the Woodwright’s School…

——————

For those keeping track, some spoons and things for sale tomorrow…including this new piece: 

 

spoon rack

 

 

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