CHRISTMAS GIFT BASKETS #6: The Devil's Bow-ties

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Blog entry by stefang posted 10-22-2014 01:07 PM 2223 reads 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Mitering the basket sides Part 6 of CHRISTMAS GIFT BASKETS series Part 7: Sanding and gluing »

Today I have been working on the basket bottoms. They are made from 2 pieces with a glue joint down the middle. The wood is pretty thin, about 5 mm, so I want to reinforce them with bow ties, or butterflies as some call them. These can be dispensed with if you use a panel for the bottom instead, but I think the bow ties are an attractive feature and people usually comment on them and so I think it is worth the extra time it takes to cut put them in, but only if they are functional as IMHO it would look silly having them there for no reason.

Before beginning on the bow-ties I first trimmed the bottoms to final size with my table saw blade set at 15 deg. sloping inward from top to bottom. I made sure to pick the best sides for the tops which were turned upside down for the cutting process. I will come back with dimensions in my final post. I had already cut one bottom to final size yesterday and so I used that to set up my saw. Just try to remember that you need to trim and equal amount from the side grain sides to keep the glue joint centered. I forgot that and mine might be out a little. Too late to cry about it now!

The first job was to make a pattern for the bow-ties with some poster board and cut them out with my craft knife. I also made the bow-ties which will be used to reinforce the corners of the top rim. These last ones are quite small and hard to mark out on the workpiece so instead of using the pattern I cut out the first one on the end of a stick so I could use that as my pattern and be able to hold it easily in place while tracing it. see below

I was able to use the poster board pattern for the much larger bow-ties for the bottom. I did find a great way to get more consistency from one side of the bow-ties to the other. Just use one side of the bow-tie pattern to mark both sides, by just flipping it back and forth. Good idea to mark the edge so it doesn’t go wrong. I learned this way to late, but you might benefit from it.

After marking up the bow-ties on long white oak sticks a little thicker that the bottoms I started cutting. I found it was a lot easier to cut all the sides out before separating them from the stick. I also saved a little time by cutting only one of the four cuts from end to end each time. It was tiresome work and those bow-ties are not fun to cut, but I finally got through it. see below

Next up was to cut the holes in the bottoms for the bow-ties. I went for 3 bow-ties with even spacing. Maybe not the wisest choice, but with only one done I can do the others different. The method to do the marking up would be the same in principal though. I made a story stick with the spacing marked out on the edges. Then I marked the lines across the glue joint in the middle. After that the bow-ties were eyeballed to the center of the lines and glue joints, but I did lay a rule along the top of all three to make sure they were in line.

Three different bow-ties were used to mark up the bottom for the cutout. and each one was then numbered along with corresponding tracing to be cut-out. The bow-ties all look alike at a glance, but I can assure you that they are all a little different, so it is important that the bow-tie used for marking is also the one that is used in the corresponding hole. I made sure to mark the hole no. of the area to be cut-out. The fit on the first 3 turned out pretty good, but I will probably change the spacing on the next ones. When cutting the tracing you have to remember to just remove the line and no more. You may have to do some subtile trimming of the hole to get a good fit so it takes a little patience. Another issue is that with the bottom being so thin it is easy for the saw blade to run out of control easily. I dialed down to the slowest speed, which helped a lot and I use the same technique as I did for the scroll work on the sides. That is, avoiding the corners until after the main pieces have been removed. It isn’t easy to get a good fit with these so do take your time and work carefully. I got a good enough fit that the glue should easily close up any small gaps, alternatively larger gaps can be filled with sawdust and glue, but I am trying to avoid that if possible. see below

I don’t think I will get much more done than these bow-ties for the bottoms today. It is fairly time consuming work. Have a great day and thanks for reading.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

11 comments so far

View johnhutchinson's profile


1172 posts in 1052 days

#1 posted 10-22-2014 01:35 PM

This just gets better as it goes. It’s turning into a doctoral dissertation on working with small parts.

The large and small bowties are the icing on the cake !!!

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1720 posts in 1392 days

#2 posted 10-22-2014 02:39 PM

Very neat Mike. I like how this is all coming together

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2757 days

#3 posted 10-22-2014 03:11 PM

Thanks John and Kaleb. I have to admit that it is kinda fun, but the downside is that I have to do everything 5 times! I just got in from the shop and the bow ties for the bottoms are done. They took a lot of time. I will glue them in tomorrow, sand the bottoms flat and then glue them up with the basket sides. That leaves only the top rims and feet to do.

Kaleb Two of these baskets will be going to my DIL’s father and her grandmother in Sweden where my youngest son lives near Lycksele, a couple of hours drive north of Umea.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View shipwright's profile


7094 posts in 2221 days

#4 posted 10-22-2014 03:23 PM

Nothing says “formal” like a bow tie Mike.
A bit of Ebony or Wenge would make this a “black tie” affair.
These little fellows would be very comfortable at such a function, elegant as they are.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2757 days

#5 posted 10-22-2014 03:58 PM

Thanks Paul. They are maddening to produce. That may have something to do with using a scroll saw to cut white oak. I probably could have done them a lot easier and more accurately with my bandsaw, I just didn’t think about it. What is the point of having brains if we don’t use them? As for ebony or wenge I don’t have any, but I do have some very nice african blackwood which I think looks as good as ebony, but it’s too expensive to use on these baskets!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Druid's profile (online now)


1234 posts in 2218 days

#6 posted 10-22-2014 07:47 PM

Baskets are looking good Mike. If you want to try Paul’s “black tie” look using some other wood, here’s a link to one process to “ebonize” other varieties.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View CFrye's profile


8588 posts in 1262 days

#7 posted 10-22-2014 10:22 PM

Bowties! Wonderful detail, Mike. Just found this. Going to read the rest of the blog.

-- God bless, Candy

View robscastle's profile


3320 posts in 1627 days

#8 posted 10-23-2014 08:10 AM

Not only are they wonderful the process in making them is impressive as well.

I shall have to try them on my next “Implant” Dutchman work.

A very good result Mike, I can see why you are habving fun.

-- Regards Robert

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2757 days

#9 posted 10-23-2014 08:40 AM

Thanks for the positivs comments.

John Actually I’m pretty happy with the oak for these baskets, but I will keep it in mind for other projects. I think the black ones would look better with hardwood baskets.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View BadDavid's profile


86 posts in 1455 days

#10 posted 10-25-2015 01:06 PM

Mike, I really appreciate the step by step pictorial. Thus far, I have not ventured too far down this road myself, I am still in the research stage. Thank you.

-- BD, where bad wood finds a home. Va

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2757 days

#11 posted 10-26-2015 11:15 AM

BD, If you do make one, let me know if I can be of any help.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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