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twigs for handles

updated fri 1 feb 02


Tom Howard on thu 31 jan 02

Hi Lesley,
This is what you must do to use your fruitwood for handles.
The wood must be freshly cut and the bark peeled off as much as =
Then submerge your twigs in some sort of water trough. Weigh them =
down with a brick as it is important that they are totally under water.
You will now be seasoning the wood under water which is the very =
best way for bent wood. As the sap moves out from the cells, the water =
moves in preserving the original open cell structure.
When the seasoning is complete, in about 2 to 3 months the wood can =
be taken out, it will still be pliable, and left to dry. Any time you =
want to use it put it to soak again in a warm/hot bath and it will bend =
easily for you into whatever shape you want.
If you let the twigs just air dry they will shrink lengthwise, the =
cells will close up tightly and,even if you soak it again in hot water, =
the wood will most probably snap when you come to use it. And it will =
be almost impossible to get the nice curves you want.
You don't want to go the route of the old time boat builders with =
frames, moulds, clamps and steam and then nails.
This is how willow and other woods have been prepared for basket =
making for eons, but it was only fairly recently discovered that this is =
the secret of the Stradivarius violin. Nobody could fathom out the =
beautiful tones until they realised that his wood was floated down a =
river to his workshop and was probably left in some sort of pond until =
needed. They should have asked the basket makers! There is also a =
dance in England called Strip the Willow where 2 lines of dancers peel =
off in imitation of just that.
Frances Howard