Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 2, Issue 1
September 2007
From the Archive

Excerpt from American Agriculturalist, Volume XXXVIII—No. 12,
December, 1879.

How to Make Splint Baskets

In the winter season a stock of baskets for use in the barn, the stable, or the field, may be very easily made. The best material is splints of hickory, oak, black ash, or any other wood that can be separated into layers.

The best timber is the butt of a straight-grained young tree, cut about eight feet long. In clearing timber land, it is common to select these butts and sell them to basket-makers by the cord, at two or three times the value of common timber. The butts are split into narrow pieces, which have the annual layers arranged conveniently for being rived into splints. The manner of splitting is shown at fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

These strips are split again, if necessary to bring the splints to a proper size for working, which is 1-1/2 inch or 2 inches for large baskets; the smaller strips, down to half an inch, may be used for hand-baskets, strawberries, etc., or for binding the edges of larger baskets. The split pieces are steeped in water for some days, to loosen the different layers of the wood, when they are beaten with a mallet upon a block, fig. 2, until the layers are separated and can be split apart with a knife, fig. 3, attached to a handle at right angles, so that it may be used conveniently for splitting, fig. 4.

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2—Loosening the fibres.
  Fig. 3.
Fig. 3—The knife.
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