(Reposted from my old blog at anachronistscookbook.com. I’m using that one just for recipes now, so the other stuff is headed over here.)
A lucet is a small hand tool that was used in the viking age and after to create a strong “braided” cord. The cords were useful for all kinds of things, such as draw-strings on clothing or attaching things to one’s belt. They were also sometimes sewn onto clothes as a decorative border. The lucet itself comes in several variations of shape, the most common having two tines or prongs and a hole somewhere to pull the cord through. They are mainly made of wood, although other materials such as whale bone or antler were also used.
I really love hand tools of all kinds. The knowledge of how to make and use tools was one of the most important parts of any culture that got passed down through the generations, and I really feel a connection to the people who have gone before me when I hold one of their tools in my hands, or at least an approximation that I’ve made myself. I also really love making them. So, since my project for the next while is hopefully going to be making some viking kit for myself and my husband, I’m going to start by attempting to make or aquire some authentic(ish) tools to do the work with. I’m also going to do so on a pretty tight budget. Hence, the wooden spoon lucet.
The consumeable materials for this project came from the dollar store:
- a 3-for-a-dollar wooden spoon (Actually, I used 2 spoons, but that’s because I messed up. See below.)
- a bit of sandpaper (got a pack for I think $2.50 with a bunch of different grits. I’ve used it for several projects now)
As for the tools… Well, I started out trying to carve everything with a pocket knife. That didn’t go well, especially when it came to making the hole to pass the string through. I got tired of carefully chipping away at the edges with my knife and decided to try and speed up the process of piercing through by hammering a nail through the spoon. That was dumb. This is what happened:
It was probably also not good that I cut out the shape of the tines before I drilled the hole, which probably weakened the whole thing.
So, in the end, I ended up using:
- A hacksaw
- A drill
- My pocket knife
I started out with your typical dollar store spoon.
Drilled the hole first this time. It chipped a little, but rustic is fine, I’m going for functional. The hole probably could have been a bit smaller (and thus less dangerous to the structure of the spoon) but I should be able to make some pretty wide cords with it at least.
Drew the basic shape of the lucet onto the back of the spoon (easier to draw on a convex surface than a concave one). You can see the big chip I made drilling the hole. Oops.
I roughed out the shape using a saw to cut away the big pieces. I probably could have done it with a knife if I’d been really determined, but it would’ve taken a lot longer.
Then I went in with the knife and made the shape a bit nicer.
Finally, I sanded with progressively finer sandpaper until the whole thing was very smooth. I think I did something like 80, 150, 220 or something like that. It did get really nice and smooth, which is good, I don’t want it catching on the string as I’m trying to knit/braid/whatever the verb is for using a lucet.
It’s a bit asymetrical, but as I said, I’m not that bothered about “rustic”, I just want it to work. And it does, mostly. I say mostly because if I was to do this over I would firstly find a bigger spoon; this is a pretty small lucet and I have big hands. Secondly, I’d try to angle the tips of the tines outward to make it a bit harder for the yarn to slip off accidentally. It does function pretty well though. I used it to make a bit of cord that will probably be a draw string eventually:
The cord is pretty tightly woven, square shaped and just slightly elastic. I’m going to write about how to make it next time. Possibly with Gifs, or with a ton of pictures to explain exactly how one loops the yarn around to braid into cord.