Hi fellow bucket enthusiasts. I finally have something new to show. Today I cut the binding materials and made some bands. The photo below shows the cut materials and some of the buds. This is the most difficult part of the project for me because I’m in unfamiliar territory here. In short, today was learning through minimal instruction and maximum experience. In other words trial and error. today was heavy on the error side. I’ll take you through the step by step with the hope that you will benefit from my experience.
Here’s a picture of the branches I cut from the willow tree (or at least a willow cousin anyway). The 2nd picture shows the buds if that’s any help. The last picture shows the pith in the center of each branch.
PREPARING THE BINDINGS
The bark and shoots should be removed from the branch. Then it should be split in two. I used a camp knife for this. The idea is to get the knife started and cut down a little and then twist the blade a little to continue the split. I’ve tried this 3 times now without success. The book I have doesn’t give any details or tips on this work. Maybe you will have better luck. The split kept narrowing out to one side until it parted off the main branch. I therefore used the remaining half for each binding. That means I have to use one whole branch for each binding. If you do this correctly you will get two bindings from each branch. I hope you have better luck with this than I did.
The first photo below shows the bark being removed and the 2nd photo the 1/2 branch I’ll be trying to make the band out of.
Step 2 planing the band
Now it’s time to plane away the pith and the wood surrounding it. It should be planed down to an even flat surface as shown in the photo below.
Step 3 Making the band supple (bendable)
The band should now be a pretty even thickness. Don’t make it too thin or it will be weak, but an even thickness will give a good even bend without breakage. DON’T TRY TO BEND IT YET. FIRST YOU NEED TO MAKE IT SUPPLE. The band will be worked on the half round stock shown in photo 1 to make it soft and supple. This is done by pulling the band back and forth around the stock until it is supple. It takes a while. I also found thick spots on the band while doing this, so I stopped to thin it out a little with my knife. You will feel this and see it while you work. It can also be smart to start with short lengths of the band first and then work longer lengths as you go. This work is shown in photo 2 below.
Step 4 Measuring the band
The band is measured directly on the bucket. It is important that the bucket is tightly clamped before the actual measuring. In the photo below you will see that I’ve put the band around the already clamped bucket. One end of the band is clamped to the bucket so you can pull the band tight as possible with one hand and make a mark across both ends where the two ends of the band meet. These marks will be the cut line for the notches that will be carved in each, and which will hold the band together.
I forgot to take photos of the notches, but just as well since I did them a little incorrectly and also it turned out that my band wasn’t quite long enough. I will show this work in the next blog.
Step 4 Making the notches in the band
I did the notches a little backwards and also my band wasn’t quite long enough, but it did work anyway. After cutting the notches I hooked the two ends together. It was too tight to just slip it over and around the bucket, so I used the band lever which was shop made for this project. To my surprise it worked perfectly! I use it to lever the band on and then I used a piece of wood to gently knock it further down. I will be showing the proper way to make the notches in the next blog.
Below are photos showing the band mounted. It is sitting very tight on the bucket. I will have to replace it with a proper one, but I was thrilled with my partial success with this third band after total failure with the first two which broke before I could mark and install them. KEEP TRYING UNTIL YOU SUCCEED. IT’S THE PRICE WE PAY TO LEARN SOMETHING.
I hope you got something useful out of today’s blog. I might have to harvest a few more branches to get 4 good half round bands, but that’s ok by me even though it’s a bit of work to get a band prepared. If anyone has any tips about splitting the willow branches, please share it!
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.