A lovely, functional harvest basket allows you to rinse vegetables (or eggs!) immediately after gathering.
By Craig and Elizabeth Williams
After several years of hauling our beautiful homegrown produce from the garden to the kitchen in grubby old plastic buckets, my husband and I decided that it was time to up our game by treating ourselves to a new harvest basket. After an extensive search of local shops and internet sources failed to turn up exactly what we were looking for, we decided to build our own. The one we built is based on the Maine clam hod — a wood and wire basket used by clam diggers that allows the clams to be rinsed right in the basket, with dirt and water running out through the sides and bottom. Although not traditional, we chose to use green, vinyl-coated hardware cloth to construct our basket simply because we had some small pieces of it on hand, but plain galvanized hardware cloth would work just as well.
If purchasing lumber, a 3-foot-long piece of 1-by-6-inches will be sufficient. From it, or from scraps, cut the following pieces (all measurements in inches):
• 2 end pieces: 1-by-5-1/2-by-8
• 2 side rails 3/4-by-7/8-by-16
• 2 handle supports 1/2-by-1-1/2-by-12
• 1 wood dowel measuring by-17
• 8 wood pegs measuring 5/16-by-1-1/2 (cut from a piece of 5/16-inch wood dowel)
• 1 piece 1/2-inch hardware cloth measuring 16-by-17
• Wood glue
• Fourteen 18-gauge 1/2-inch-crown staples (longer crown staples can be cut to length with a side cutter)
• Two 1-inch brads
• Wood preservative (optional)
1. Gather materials and cut wood pieces to size.
2. Mark lines for radius cuts on bottom corners of each end piece using a quart-sized paint can. Make the cuts. Smooth any rough edges.
3. In each end piece, cut a 3/4-by-1-inch notch in each top corner.
4. Make a 90-degree bend 3/4 inches from the edge of the hardware cloth, along the 16-inch end. Repeat on opposite edge. Using the staple gun, attach one of the bent edges of hardware cloth to one of the side rails.
5. Place one side rail in the notches on both of the end pieces. Drill a 5/16-inch hole for wooden peg in one of the end pieces. Coat peg with glue and insert it into the hole. Repeat for the notch on the opposite end piece. Drill the holes to a depth of 1-1/4 inches. There will be 1/4 inch of peg left to use for handling. The excess can be trimmed flush with the side rail after glue has dried.
6. Wrap hardware cloth around the end pieces, following the contour of the wood.
7. Position the second side rail in the notches, drill holes, apply glue and install wooden pegs.
8. Place a large clamp across the side rails and allow glue to set for an hour. Remove clamp.
9. Use the hammer and crown staples to attach the hardware cloth to the bottom and sides of the end pieces: Start on the bottom of the end pieces, in the center, and work out toward the sides, smoothing the hardware cloth as you go. Use seven crown staples per end piece. Complete one end piece first, then repeat for the remaining end piece.
10. Drill a 3/4-inch hole in each of the handle supports, centered 3/4-inch from one end — this will be the top of the handle support. Radius the tops of the supports to form a half-round.
11. Stand the basket on one end piece. Center one of the handle supports on the end piece so that the bottom of the support is flush with the bottom of the end piece.
12. Drill one 5/16-inch hole 1-1/2 inches from the bottom of the handle support, and a second hole 1-1/2 inches from the top of the handle support.
13. Apply glue to the back of the handle support and to a wooden peg and install it in one of the holes. Repeat for the second peg. Once the pegs are set, the excess length can be trimmed flush with the handle support.
14. Flip the basket over onto the other end and repeat steps 9 to 11.
15. Install the handle by sliding it through the holes on the handle supports. Secure handle with glue and nail a 1-inch brad through the side of each handle support into the handle.
16. Set the 18-inch bar clamp across the two handle supports and leave the basket overnight so glue can dry thoroughly.
18. After glue has dried, remove the clamp. Your basket is ready to use. If you wish to use a natural wood preservative, do so now, following package instructions.