The Process

  • The process begins with an Ash tree which has no twists, knots or branches and which is on average twelve to sixteen inches in diameter, a small wedge is cut into the bark of the tree so the grain can be seen and judged whether the tree is suitable for splint or not; this prevents a tree which is not suitable from being felled. Usually the bottom six to eight feet of trunk is used because this part is without branches.

  • The preparation begins by splitting the log in half, and then continues splitting each half in eight to ten pie shaped wedges.

  • The wedges are then cleaned of bark and splinters by a person sitting on a work bench and shaving the wood with a draw knife.

  • When the pieces are ready they are put through a pounding process which releases the growth years (splint). The pounding is done manually by repeatedly pounding the wood with an axe. This pounding method takes many hours.

  • After the splint is pounded each pieces is then separated again.

  • The splint is then shave with a special knife called the crooked knife. The separated splint is drawn over a person’s knee with the blade of the knife against the wood; this removes the hairy wood fibers. Learning to exert the proper pressure against the wood so it will not be cut takes months. This process of wood preparation is time consuming; it takes approximately 90 hours from start to finish.

  • The actual weaving of a basket is the reward for such tedious work!