I decided to try making an ice fishing rod. This is just a prototype and if it works well, I will improve the design.
The rod itself is a piece of Willow (Salix).
The handle I have made by glueing together pieces of Birch bark onto the Willow rod.
The eyelet at the end of the rod I have made from a piece of reindeer horn, which I have then lashed to the rod.
For the “reel” I have made two pins from reindeer horn and drilled the rod and inserted the pins in. The fishing line then wraps around between the two pins.
I have not had the chance to try out yet, but will let you know how it goes!
Today is my 40th birthday so what better way to spend the weekend than at my cabin, collecting Birch bark .
Some of the bark was impossible to remove but some separated from the tree as you cut into it
I took the bark back to the cabin. Some I will store, but some I wanted to work with while it is fresh and flexible
I made a large folded container
I used a narrow strip of Birch bark folded in half as a rim and removed bark from a Willow sapling
and used to stitch the rim in place
The container holds about 5 litres of water
While out on the reserve the other day I needed to undo a nut and bolt but realised I had left the spanner behind. It was a long walk back to the workshop so a decided to try and make something out of natural materials. I cut a piece of Willow about the thickness of my finger
I used a piece of cord to whip both ends of the stick and then split the stick in half (the whipping prevented the split running to the ends of the stick)
I had to prise the two halves apart and put the nut through the gap
I grasped tightly either side and close to the nut.
I was rather sceptical that it would work but I was pleased to find that it did!! It would not be strong enough to remove a lock nut or rusted nut and bolt.
Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me when I originally made the spanner so I have reconstructed it for the pictures.
So to answer Mungo’s question in my previous post…..
Take the basket rim
and the central rib (if you wish to make a basket with a handle this would be another Willow hoop) and using a cross lashing secure the two together
Now take another wand and weave in a figure of eight over the rim from front to back
across the front of the rib
and then behind the rim
and over the top and this time go behind the rib
and over the rim from the front
and then across the front of the rib
After you have done this a few times two holes (top and bottom of the figure of eight) will have been created looking like this from the side view
and into each of these you push the end of another rib
At this stage you should then have five ribs. Now continue weaving between them all a few times and with the resulting holes created between each rib you push in another six ribs, giving you eleven in total and this is what you will have
Hope that answers your question :>)
I wanted a basket for carrying kindling from my woodshed for my woodburning stove, so I went for a walk and collected some willow wands.
Firstly I twisted two thicker wands into a circle to make a rim for the basket.
I weaved in the basket ribs
I continued weaving between between the rib, filling in the basket
As I filled in the middle of the basket I did not weave to the basket rim. This creates two opposing handles for carrying the basket when it’s full.
This handle is very different to those on other baskets I have made
My weaving skills are still rather slow but after three hours the basket was completed
And the finished basket is certainly fit for purpose
YOU CAN BUY A SMALL WILLOW BASKET MAKING KIT, WITH INSTRUCTIONS HERE
Using a circular chopping board with 28 holes drilled in it as a gauge, we started making a trap. Inserting a willow wand into each of the 28 holes (the warps).
We used thin flexible wands to weave around the top of the trap (end nearest the board) until we had weaved around the diameter of the trap twice, adding in new wands as the previous became too thin or short.
A single weave was added about 15cm above this
and another 15cm above that. This time the weave had to be a little tighter which caused the trap to start curving into a cone shape.
Three more wefts were added, each tighter than the previous (as you can see above) and then the ends were all lashed together.
This part of the trap was then removed from the gauge and using the same 28 holes we made the funnel or “chair”.
Once completed, the funnel was inserted into the trap so that the 28 warps of the funnel laid between the 28 warps of the trap.
Both were then woven together.
Here is the completed trap.
The trap has to dry for two weeks now and then I will soak it and test it out.
This week I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a day with Peter Carter. Were it not for the fact that Peter is around the same age as me, I would have described him as “a traditional old fenman” making his living from the land and making all his own traps and nets.
I had originally contacted Peter to ask his advice on making simple willow fish traps that I could make and use while staying at my cabin, and he invited me over to spend a day.
Peter grew up in the fens and as a child spent his time with, and learning from the older generation who were in the business. We began by looking at some useful tools when making willow traps. Any idea what this is used for?
Well it is called a “cleaver” and as you push the centre into the end of a willow wand and push it along and as it moves through the willow it splits it into three equal pieces, as you can see in the picture below.
The cleaver was traditionally made out hard woods such as Hawthorn or Blackthorn. Then using another of Peters homemade devices which acts rather like a plane,
you pull each wand through the device and the cutting blade removes excess material, giving you nice even thickness strips of willow.
After a coffee and a chat about different types of traps and our net making methods, we were ready to begin making a fish trap……but more about that next time.
For fans of the TV program Time Team, Peter features in next weeks program.
Now that the frame is completed the coracle frame can be removed from the ground and turned the right way up.
Here Olivia is demonstrating how to break down the fibres in a willow wand by twisting it and moving along its full length.
Four of these wands are used (one either side of the seat) to tie together the the three rows of twisted willows and so secure the seat inplace.
The frame can now be covered with cloth (we used Jute) and sewn around the rim to keep the cloth taught and secure using a blanket stitch.
We pre-heated a tin of Bitumen and then applied two coats to the cloth (allowing each coat to dry) to waterproof it.
Once completely dry the coracle is completed. Then all you need is a paddle.
I am now awaiting pictures of me and the coracle in action on water and will add them here once I receive them.
Firstly, to Treewright, Mungo and Suburban Bushwacker…… thanks for you comments re my recent laptop problems.
Last weekend I was at Assington Mill again to learn to make a coracle with instructor Olivia Elton Barratt. I should point out that there are many different designs and ways of making them and this is just one;
The seat was cut from sawn timber, a hole drilled in each corner and placed on flat ground. Pairs of willow wands were then selected for construction of the framework.
Four large wands were inserted into each of the seat holes and then the shape was measured and marked out with the rest of the wands, starting with two pairs either side of the centre of the coracle
Once all the wands were in place, weaving between the wands could start to form the rim and help strengthen the frame. The weave starts under both ends of the seat and after one complete diameter of the coracle the second row is woven below the seat.
The wands are woven in pairs, criss-crossing between the upright wands.
As one wand runs out, you add in a new one to replace it and continue weaving until three rows have been completed.
The vertical wands (or ribs) are then lashed together in opposing pairs to begin forming the shape of the coracle.
until the basic shape is completed.
At this stage slight adjustments to the shape can be made and once the shape looks good, a square lashing is used to secure each point where the pairs of wands cross.
The final design of my pocket bow-drill kit is now completed.
It works incredibly well and I am really pleased with the result, both for making fire and drilling holes using a flint tip.
My favourite combinations of wood for the bow-drill are a Hazel drill and Willow hearth.