Bent willow furniture is also known as “twig furniture”, and it has been made in the United States for the past two hundred years. Furniture made out of willow is strong and long-lasting, and it lends a beautiful rustic, outdoor look to any room, porch or patio. Willow grows abundantly in wet bogs and marshes. And, since there are more than two hundred types of willow wood, and it propagates easily, that means there’s plenty of it available.
There are many types of furniture that you can make by using willow. They include chairs, loveseats, tables, plant stands, beds, and even a gazebo, if you’re really talented. If you want to make your own piece of bent willow furniture, such as a small table, the first thing you’ll have to do is go outside with a hand saw and locate a gathering of willow trees.
You’ll need to cut a variety of thin and thick branches from the trees, depending on the type of furniture you’re going to make. The branches should be long and as straight as you can find. You can cut enough willow to make the project at hand, plus, you can collect additional wood for other projects. Store the extra willow branches with their ends stuck in a bucket of tap water. They will stay fairly pliable for about a week or so.
The next step is to use a pair of pruning shears to strip off the leaves and the shoots from all of the willow branches. Then, cut four straight branches to make the small legs of the table your are going to make. Cut four more shorter willow branches to make the cross members, and bevel their ends by using a sharp whittling knife. Set these pieces aside for now, and start making the square bottom shelf.
You’ll need four pieces of willow to make the frame of the shelf, and several smaller, short branches to fill the frame in. Use a drill with a small bit to bore holes into the ends of the four frame pieces. Connect them together with little, galvanized screws and nuts. Now, position the square bottom shelf as far up where you want it to sit against the table legs. Use the drill to bore a hole through the leg and into the shelf. Then, make holes in the remaining legs and into the bottom too. Secure the legs to the shelf by using more little, galvanized screws and nuts.
It’s time to make the top of the bent willow table. This will be made about the same way you made the bottom shelf, except, that the top needs to extend over the frame an inch or so. Cut four more willow branches for the frame, and secure them together as described above. Then, cut additional, smaller branches to fill the frame in. Secure these pieces onto the frame in the same way.
Now that you have your bent willow table basically constructed, you’ll still need to add the cross members you have already cut. Position these where you want them near the bottom of the legs. Then, use a drill with a small bit to bore holes through the willow branch legs and the cross members. Use little, galvanized screws and nuts to secure them together. In order to make the bent willow table sturdier, you’ll need to cut four more small branches and secure them near the top of the legs too.
The next to the last step in making this piece of furniture is to add some decorative pieces. To do this, you’ll need to cut three smaller in diameter, yet rather long, willow branches. Bevel the ends with a sharp whittling knife. Then, hold one of the branches by both ends and gently bend it over your leg. You’ll need to do this a little at a time to make the willow hold the curve. Keep bending the piece until it resembles a “U”.
Be careful not to snap the piece, though. Repeat this process with the remaining branches, then, use a drill with a small bit to bore holes in each end of the pieces. These pieces will be secured onto the sides of the bent willow table in the “U” shape. They will not only add decoration, but they will add strength to the piece of furniture too.
Position one end of a branch to the frame of the table, about a third of the way down. Use a drill to bore a small hole into the frame, and secure the pieces together with a little galvanized screw and nut. Repeat this process with the other side, and secure the bottom of the curve too.
After you have put the decorative pieces on the table, you should coat the entire bent willow table with a good-quality, clear sealer. This sealer will help to protect it and keep it looking beautiful for years to come.After you have