Turning a Basket

An advanced project for woodturners

Woodturned Basket

Step by step procedure

This is a project that's just advanced enough, but yet quick enough to satisfy most experienced woodturners.  There's some carving required, of course, but doesn't have to be a whole lot.

Learning the turning skills required for this project will allow for many more projects to come to mind.  There's blind hollowing.  Hollowing through a small (or large as required by the 'handles' of the basket) openings as well as carving.

Let's get started....

IMG_0346.JPG (47995 bytes) This is a piece of Walnut about 3" diameter and 8" long. I won't use the full length but I like to have enough in case of ... ummm ... "design opportunity" striking.  I have already rounded it and put a tenon on the end.
IMG_0347.JPG (442436 bytes) I flipped the blank end for end and put the tenon into the scroll chuck.  I've also pulled up the tailstock for extra support.  I like to do this as a matter of course for as long asI can just for safety even on small items such as this..
IMG_0349.JPG (42825 bytes) I've formed a cone or what will look like the top of an egg shape on the right side.  That will become the basket handles area.  I've also made some parting cuts on the left side.  These are to show where the bottom of the base will be.  It helps me visualize it in the next steps...
IMG_0350.JPG (37515 bytes) I've formed a really rough base on the left side. This will be the bottom of the basket.  I've also made a really shallow parting cut near the middle of the "egg".  That rasied area will be the division between the basket "bowl" and the start of the handles.  You can go ahead and round off that raised area a little to form a bead.  Don't have to at this point but you can.
IMG_0356.JPG (40178 bytes) Pull the tailstock away and using whatever tool you want (I used the toe of a skew), put a little dimple in the end of the blank.  This is to help center the drill bit next ....
IMG_0358.JPG (40528 bytes) Drill a depth hole with a drill bit.  You don't have to do this but I'm hoping Tom Crabb will read this at some point.  I teased him awhile back about if he could use a drill bit for this or that.  He wondered if I sold drill bits or something! haha

Anyway, I'm using just a hand drill but you can use a Jacobs' chuck in the tailstock if you wish.  Drill it down near to what will be the inside bottom of the bowl portion.

IMG_0359.JPG (45727 bytes) Spilling its guts!  Very small hole and a lot of fine shavings.  Yes, this is hollowing and YES it's boring and time consuming.  Start from the opening and work your way down the sides slowly.  Just like with any hollow turning, you work the top to final thickness and work down from there.  Don't go back to the top once you get past it. Yada yada yada....
IMG_0360.JPG (45577 bytes) I'm using a modified scraper tip on an old screwdriver.  I certainly don't recommend using old screwdrivers, files, etc. for most woodturning but for small things, they work fine most of the time.  I'm not hanging over the toolrest much at all so it's safe.

Lots of digging out the shavings here.  LOTS. Even on a small hollowing like this.

IMG_0361.JPG (33125 bytes) OK. All hollowed out.  I don't make it very thin at all.  You want some thickness left in the handles area so you can form the handles and not break them all to pieces.  I also didn't do a whole lot of hollowing in the base of the basket.  I'll get to that later.

Here you can see where I've drawn some rough lines where the handles will go.  On this particular piece, there were some cracks present near the hollowing hole so I had to work around those.  I'll just cut them out and form the handles around them!

IMG_0362.JPG (35825 bytes) The other side.
IMG_0364.JPG (36987 bytes) Here is what I'm using for these small baskets.  For the larger ones, you can use a jigsaw or handsaws such as a coping saw, etc.  This is a carbide side-cutting bit that fits into my Dremel tool w/ flexshaft.
IMG_0365.JPG (35228 bytes) Cut in and move it around.  Just go slow and keep your hands out of the way in case you slip or the wood comes off too fast.
IMG_0366.JPG (36032 bytes)  
IMG_0367.JPG (32869 bytes) The handles cut out.  Really rough here.
IMG_0368.JPG (33443 bytes)  
IMG_0369.JPG (33732 bytes) Inside view.  Before going any further, and risking damaging the handles after then get thin later, I now finish hollowing the bowl portion.
IMG_0374.JPG (38451 bytes) Go easy here!  Don't touch those handles.  They're thick but not enough to not snap if touched.  Just hollow out as you were before. Actually, it's easier now that you can see your tool as it passes through those cut-out handles.

Here, I'm using a thick and long hex key wrench that I've ground a scraper tip on.

IMG_0375.JPG (37022 bytes)  
IMG_0377.JPG (33263 bytes) Hollowing all done.  I'm going to completely finish sand the bowl portion now.  Once those handles are carved and done, you don't want to risk breaking them by putting a tool down there afterward.  I'm using the Dremel again but now it has a flat rubber mandrel on it that I've glued some closed-cell foam onto and then a leather pad on top of that.  The sandpaper is spray-glued to that.
IMG_0380.JPG (38288 bytes) Sanding ... sanding ... and sanding .... *cough* cough * cough*

IMG_0382.JPG (32435 bytes) Now on to the handles.
IMG_0383.JPG (34039 bytes) Pretty eh? ha!
IMG_0384.JPG (32740 bytes) I start off with a large size sanding drum on the Dremel.  Rough grit.  All I'm doing here is getting things somewhat the same thickness all around and starting to round off the handles so they're not so flat looking.
IMG_0385.JPG (32500 bytes) Oooops!  See that handle at the top?  I got too excited and put too much pressure on it.  It snapped just a little.  That's supper glue.  No problem, though.  You won't see it later.
IMG_0387.JPG (29876 bytes) Rough sand-shaped.
IMG_0388.JPG (38611 bytes) To get into those corners and small places, I use a carving knife.  Go easy.
IMG_0389.JPG (31446 bytes) A small sanding drum with a fine grit.  Final sand-shaping.  Round things over and get rid of the rough sanding marks.
IMG_0390.JPG (29773 bytes) Done with fine sand-shaping.
IMG_0391.JPG (27527 bytes)  
IMG_0393.JPG (27565 bytes) Here I'm using a progression of sandpaper to final sand.  Here's a way to sand those rounded areas.  On such small items, you can't get your hands in there everywhere so you have to be creative.
IMG_0394.JPG (33981 bytes) *cough * cough*
IMG_0395.JPG (27900 bytes) Careful when hand sanding too. Things are thin   Support those areas as much as possible with your hands or even stuffing a rag in there (or balloons or foam or whatever) to support things.
IMG_0396.JPG (33337 bytes) Before parting off, I had final sanded the outside "bowl" portion of the basket.  Here, I'm sanding off the nub left behind.

That's it.  Hope this helped.