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Friday 10 June 2016

Making a sturdy trug - a useful basket for for gardening

A trug is a sturdy sort of basket, often used to carry tools and other heavier items. They are sometimes made of wood and a classic design is known as a 'Sussex trug'. 

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Proper good-quality Sussex trugs are made by skilled crafts people using sweet chestnut for the handle and rim and cricket bat willow for the laths making up the basket.

I haven't trained in Sussex trug making and don't have the moulds to shape the timber. An important birthday was coming up and the recipient is a keen gardener, so I decided to make her a tough workhorse of a trug which would also be a lot more affordable than a good quality Sussex-style one.

The trug measures about 65 cm (25.5") from end to end and is actually a lot lighter than it looks, as well as being able to carry any plants or tools used in the garden. It is made from European larch with an oak handle.

The handle uprights and the laths going across the basket reused scrap wood that had been used to space timber as it seasoned. I chose pieces with as few knots as possible, so they were stronger under a load. 

The larger side bits were offcuts that were destined for the fire. With a bit of cleaning up they look great. They would also be pretty durable outdoors, although the fixings are not stainless steel which would have been my preferred choice if the trug were to be left outside (as a decorative planter, for example). 

I chose not to put any kind of finish on, as it will only look better when a bit used and worn. The larch timber will naturally go a grey/silver colour over time and doesn't need to be treated with preservative.

The finishing touch was her name carved into the side with a Dremel, so no other gardeners can walk off with Cath's nice new trug!

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