peeling ash splints

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 –  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. 


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…]



5 thoughts on “peeling ash splints

  1. Peter,
    I enjoy your posts and i appreciate the time it takes to share your knowledge.

    I would really like to try making baskets. Whats the best way to start? Your blog posts seem thorough and it seems like I understand the basics.

    Whats the best way to get started? Can you recommend a book or other resource?

    • The best way to get started is to learn from a basketmaker – but that;’s not always feasible. On the earlier post I linked above, there’s a photo of 4 books I use – but none of these are how-to books. I used to have one by John Macquire about making shaker baskets. I haven’t looked at it in years, so can’t comment on it.

  2. Peter,

    I enjoyed this video of you pounding ash and riving it that someone posted up on YouTube. Thought you might not have been aware of it being there.

    Appreciated the explanation as well.



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