By Gene and Katie Hamilton
The early pioneers made these simple basket boxes of pine with grape- vine handles. We designed ours so that you too can put them together easily and effortlessly. These boxes make ideal gifts, filled with candy or cookies, or you can use them on a dresser or dining room table. They're popular home accessories that anyone would like.
We made the boxes in two sizes. Construction is identical; both use lattice for the sides and bottom. The larger box uses grapevine for a handle; the smaller has braid handles made from heavy twine. Lattice is readily available at lumberyards, but you'll have to take a walk in the woods or go to a florist for the grapevine. We soaked our grapevine in warm water for several hours to make it soft and pliable to work with. Both the boxes have a natural finish.
Begin construction by cutting the lattice to size. The sides (Bl, B2) and ends (Cl, C2) of both boxes are cut from 3 1/2-inch-wide lattice. The bottom of the small box is formed by a single piece of 5 1/2-inch-wide lattice and the bottom of the large box is made from two sections of 3 1/2-inch-wide lattice. For all measurements, see the Cutting List.
For the large box, lay out the location of the handle holes on the sides (B2), measuring 7 3/4 inches from either end. Make a pen- cil mark, then measure 1 inch down from the top edge. Drill a 1/16-inch hole in each corner of the two ends for the handles to slip through.
For the small box, drill 3/16-inch holes in the top corners of the two end pieces, 1 inch from the side and 1 inch from the top, for the handles to slip through.
The boxes are assembled by driving two 7/8-inch by 18 wire brads along each of the short ends of the side pieces (B), 1/8 inch from the edge. Be careful not to split the wood. When all the nails are in place, apply glue to the shorter edges of each end piece ©, then attach the sides to the end pieces, squaring them up and nailing them together.
Drive evenly spaced wire brads every 2 inches around the edges of the bottom (Al, A2). Keep them 1/8 inch from the edge and pound them into the wood just deep enough so their points emerge from the other side. Then turn the boxes over and apply glue the bottom edges of the side and end pieces (B and C). Put the bottom in place. Have one member of the team hold it square while the other drives the brads.
When the glue is dry, sand the boxes smooth. If the ends or sides overlap slightly, place a piece of sandpaper on a flat surface, and rub the end of the box over it; this will grind down high spots and leave the ends square.
If your grapevine is dry and stiff, soak it in water until it becomes pliable. Then make a loop by passing thin wire through the handle holes. Place the end of the grapevine in this loop, and pull the loop tight. Then form another loop and pull it tight. Finally, wrap the wire around the loop between the grapevine and the outside of the box, and tie off and cut the wire.
Heavy packing twine was used as handles for the smaller box. For each handle, take three 12-inch-long strands, push them through one handle hole, and tie a knot to inside the box. Braid the twine, pass the other end through the other hole on that end piece, and tie it off. Cut the strands neatly at the knots.
We gave the boxes a natural tung oil finish, and when it dried, we applied a coat of paste wax for protection.
Four hours for cutting, building, and assembling both boxes, plus drying time for glue and finish.
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