This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
These are some people who must be always cutting, notching, or carving with a knife. Sometimes they seek to perpetuate their precious memory by the formation of certain well-known letters in the bark of a tree, or any other surface which happens to be near. When their hands are not otherwise occupied, almost every bench can testify to the interesting fact that the owner of some name beginning with " A. B.," or "R. W.," once marked the spot with his presence, and left an impression behind him. Others, ambitious to give a touch of art to their productions, are absorbed for many a long hour in developing the head of a monkey, or a dog, on the top of what is highly esteemed as a walking-stick. There is really no limit to the number of juvenile ship carpenters, all more or less distinguished for cutting out their smacks, cutters, schooners, and other merchantmen destined i to scale the mountain waves of the nearest ditch.
Let us not frown on these bumble efforts, however they make us smile, but rather let us endeavor to give them scope and direction, so that the time and labor which would otherwise be wasted may be profitably and agreeably spent. Rustic work, such as relates to the construction of flower-baskets and flower-stands, is well suited for this purpose, for it includes both cutting and carving.
Those of your readers who have a little taste and spare time, could, hardly do better, than give it a trial.
In introducing this subject to notice, I send a sketch of one of the simplest flower-stands I have been able to find. It is intended to contain a plant in a pot, and to be placed either in an open corner or behind other plants. The construction of this single stand requires but little skill or labor, and the only point which needs particular explanation is that at a.
Here there are two different ways of working, in order to produce the projecting bottom. With the first of these two ways, the bottom is formed of two circular boards, the lower projecting a little, say about half an inch beyond the margin of the upper, and on this latter the lath-like sticks or ribs are neatly nailed, after being properly prepared. The other mode is not so convenient, nor so much adapted, but it saves a little wood. It consists simply in carrying a narrow band of wood, or a branch, round the bottom of the ribs after they have been nailed on to the bottom. But before saying more aboot the construction of the stand, I wish to offer a few observations respecting the:
The legs (either three or four may be used) are of the thickness of an ordinary walking-stick; sometimes they are a little thicker, according to the size of the top. It is almost unnecessary to say that any kind of branch will serve the purpose, but it is desirable to have all the branches of the same thickness, and as even as possible. .
Birch will, perhaps, be found the best description of wood for the ribs, if it can be procured, but any other may be used.
Common deal board, about half an inch thick, is good enough for the bottom; but it is somewhat difficult to cut a piece of wood evenly round, except with a good saw made for this sort of work, that is, a small, narrow saw, having fine, sharp teeth. It may, therefore, be preferable to have the circular boards prepared by a carpenter, if there happens to be one at hand. Certainly, a handy person may make a shift with a sharp knife or a chisel, but neither is so good as a saw, when it can be obtained. A small brad-awl and some nails of different sizes will also be indispensable.
Begin work by preparing the ribs, cutting them to the same length, tapering them evenly towards the bottom, and pointing them at the end which is to be uppermost Keep them as nearly as possible to the same form, and cot the bottom end smooth.
When the ribs are neatly prepared, nail them on to the smaller of the two circular boards which is to form the bottom. If they have been properly prepared they shonld lie close to one another, and be as near as possible at right angles with the bottom; that is, they should not lie to one side, though sometimes in the process of being put together they may get out of place. It ought to be noticed here, that a ring or hoop, made of an osier twig, is used at the inside near the top, in order to keep the ribs in their places, and it is desirable to introduce it at once. Therefore, nail on two ribs, first of all, at exactly opposite points, and nail the hoop to them. In this way it is much easier to adjust all the others. But though this appears, at first sight, to be a very simple affair, it will be found that considerable care and nicety are required to hate the ribs uniform and close together, with just the exact number wanted to fill up the whole all round. This is the point which proves the clever workman in such a form of stand, but, to be sure, so great nicety is not essential to its general appearance.
Now, the larger of the two boards is firmly mounted on the legs, which are nailed at equal distances to hoops, one near the bottom, and another near the top, as seen in the figure. But, instead of a hoop, a board may be placed near the bottom, and a flowering-plant or evergreen can be put on it when wanted.
The bottom of the basket, that is, the larger of the two boards at a having been properly "bevelled" at the beginning, is now neatly covered with the scales of Fir cones, arranged in an overlapping manner. Those quite close to the bottom of the basket will require to be shortened a little, and the whole may be either fastened with glue, or small tacks without heads; indeed, the nails in every case should be as small as possible. It is scarcely necessary to add more, for a little practice is better than a volume of directions. There is, however, one point yet which needs especial notice, that is, the process of preparing the branches for the ribs. Whatever kind of wood may be chosen, the branches should be cut into lengths of eight or ten inches, and laid up to dry for some time; if these lengths are without knots, so much the better; and if they cannot be evenly split, they must be sawn with a sharp "ripping saw," but they must be held quite firm while being sawn. For this purpose the hand will not be sufficient, and, therefore, some way of keeping them firm in position must be contrived.
The most fertile cause of disappointment in all work of this kind is the want of proper tools, and the means of keeping the work firm and steady.