Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Making Harvest Baskets

We gather a lot of vegetables and flowers. For major harvests we use a wheelbarrow or cart. But most summer days we pick smaller amounts, enough for a meal or two, berries for jam and baking, or flowers for tables and windowsills. Our primary basket was a wedding present we have been using for over three decades. My wife likes to use it for carrying her cut flowers and that often interfered with my collecting veggies for dinner. 
Woven Harvest Basket, 35+ Years Old
It became obvious that we needed more than one harvest basket (that we call a trug). My wife presented me with one that works okay, but is too small, and, like her basket, has a handle that often deflects thrown peas and beans so that they miss the basket. Both handles also get in the way when grabbing peas or beans between hands when they are on opposite sides. My first trug raised the handle pretty high, attempting to make it easier to fill and empty. This design was heavy and the handle still got in the way. Permanently erect handles also makes baskets bulky to store. Empty, they take up a lot of space.
Commercial Harvest Basket: Coated Steel Wire Mesh
My First Trug: Too Heavy, But Won a Prize
An ideal baskets should have handles that swing out of the way. When you have more than one, they should also stack, one inside another. They should be light enabling heavier payloads. My next one incorporated a handle that could swing to the side for filling, emptying and storing. It also used only a frame of wood and very lightweight rawhide for lacing.

Trug with Handle Swung to the Side
Trug with Handle Erect

Three Trugs Together Showing Relative Size
Trugs Fills With Produce
 The rawhide I used for the swing-handled trug came from a deer I harvested with a bow and arrow when I was still in high school. With only a limited supply of rawhide, I used one-inch wide webbing for the next pair of trugs that I made for four-year old twins. These work great and though they are a bit large for them now, they'll grow into them and should last their lifetime. To make them waterproof so that veggies can be washed in the trugs, both the rawhide trug and those made with webbing were given many coats of marine varnish that also melds the webbing to the wood frame.

Twin Trugs with Handles Swung to the Side

Stacked Trugs

Monday, January 16, 2017

Scroll Saw Bowls with Segmented Feature Ring

A year ago my wife gave me an interesting book on how to make bowls without a lathe. At that time I did not have a wood lathe and the prospect of making bowls without creating mounds of wood shavings intrigued me.
Carole Rothman Uses a Scroll Saw to Make Her Bowls 

Carole Rothman has developed techniques that transform flat boards as wide and long as the dimensions of the piece into incredibly beautiful bowls. One drawback: these bowls typically have sides that are around 45 degrees. 

I like to make things that are useful and have been planning to make a series of sturdy bowls for chopping vegetables and nuts so that the process doesn't send pieces all over the place. My wife's mother had a very functional wooden bowl and chopping knife that she used many decades.  The bowl was shallower than the one pictured above so, in order to use a scroll saw, I had to modify the technique. 
Mother-in-Law's 12.5 Inch Diameter Bowl and Chopping Knife
My first attempt used two boards of hard maple to make the bottom four layers of a bowl. Turning a solid piece of wood involves slicing through the grain at various angles. It is much easier to cut "with the grain" than "across the grain". The woodworking group I belong to introduced me to segmented bowl techniques and the advantages of creating layers that have no "end grain". For the fancy top layers, I added feature rings of trapezoids.
First Chopping Bowl with Cherry Feature Ring on Top of Four Layers of Maple
Side View of First Bowl

Two Handled Chopping Knife, Handles Cover Blade When Not in Use
Second Bowl with Cherry Feature Ring and Pine Separators
Top View: Second Bowl Showing Trapezoids and Separators
Second Bowl Complete

Discs on Left Have Been Cut Out of a Square Board at 45 Degrees. They Will Be Cut Again to Make Layers #2 and #4 of Two Bowls.  Stacked Discs on Right Are Layers #1 and #3 of Those Bowls.
The Four Bottom Layers of a Bowl

Glued Up Stack of Four Layers of Yellow Birch

Feature Ring: Alternating Trapezoids of Walnut and Cherry

Feature Ring Added to Four Layers of Yellow Birch
Chopping Knife with Leather Cover

Bottom View of Chopping Bowl #3

Top View of #3

Top View of #4: Yellow Birch Layers 1-4, Alternating Trapezoids of Cherry and Oak, with Purple Heart Separators

Bottom View of Chopping Bowl #4