Introduction: Board-Breaker's Baskets

If you or anyone in your family participates in martial arts such as tae kwon do or karate, you may wonder what becomes of all those broken boards. Chances are, there is a big pile of wood scraps just begging to be put to use.

If you have orchids, you may want to make your own vanda baskets. Many orchids are happy to have their roots exposed to the air and prefer an open airy container over a closed pot.


Wood Scraps - these are typically "one by twelves" that were cut to 6" widths and broken to demonstrate strength and skill. You may also end up with similar scraps from making shelves

Wire - Stainless, copper, aluminum (even twine will work, but is more difficult to work with).

Hatchet or Saw

Drill with a wood bit - 1/8" to 1/4" diameter.

Pliers for twisting and cutting wire.

Step 1: Making Kindling

Take some of the broken boards and find a piece that is roughly square and set aside for the bottom of each basket.

With the rest of the scraps, make strips about 3/4" wide. I use a hatchet because it's fast and I like the rusticly random edges it produces. It's like chopping kindling and can be quite satisfying. Just watch your fingers.

I also ripped some uniform strips on a table saw, but a hand saw, jig saw, or band saw would work too.

You want about 12 pieces to make the sides of one basket. I stack them up as I cut so I don't lose track. Don't get carried away and chop up the pieces you set aside for the bottoms.

Step 2: Riddled With Holes

Drill a hole near the end of each stick and near each corner of the bottom board. If the sticks are roughly 3/4" by 3/4" square in cross-section, I make the hole about 3/8" back from the end.

No need to be precise, but I made a jig by gluing a piece of wood to another scrap and it makes the process go quickly when you've got a lot to drill. I used a drill press but a handheld drill works fine. I used an 1/8" drillbit, but you might want a larger hole if you are using twine or larger wire.

Step 3: Start at the Bottom and Work Your Way Up

Gather your sticks, two lenghts of wire (about 36" long), and the bottom board.

Start by feeding the wire up from the bottom of the bottom board. Each wire goes through two holes and you want all four ends to be roughly even. I run the wire across the grain, but not sure how much this matters.

Lay the bottom flat and feed two more stick down over the wires sticking up. Again I start with these two stick running across the grain in the bottom board.

Step 4: Stacked and a Bit Twisted

Keep feeding stick down over the wires, alternating the direction of the sticks for each layer. I stop at three layers in each direction, making a basket that is roughly cubic in dimensions.

Take all four wires and grab them with a pair of pliers and twist them together to secure them together at the top. I twist about 3" together, then trim the ends. This leaves some sharp ends, so be careful. I later use this twisted bundle to form a hook to hang the basket.

Step 5: And Now for Something Completely Different

Fore some variety, I took the sticks that I ripped on the table saw and made another basket using a different pattern. I laid the end of each stick over the one next to it, then fed all four stick down over all four wires.

I repeated three times and got a different look with similar functionality.

I also decided to keep these wires short and roll up the top of each with needle-nosed pliers. These work great to hold the basket together and you can tie on string or wire hangers later if you wish.

Step 6: Think Outside the Box

Once you make a traditional vanda basket or ten, play around with the sticks and experiment. The same techniques can be used to create different shapes and sizes.

I keep all my orchids outside in a humid and shady area, and they get a lot of water. I don't expect these baskets to last as long as those made from teak, but they are easy to make the the materials are practically free.

If you keep your orchids indoors, you may want to size the baskets to hold a pot, and there's no rule saying these are for only orchids.

Scraps Speed Challenge

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Scraps Speed Challenge