After seeing some pretty cool hand made Japanese nets in Japan and on the hips of some cool Tenkara anglers I knew I'd have to try to make my own. But I'm not handy and not a power tool guy. Luckily the process is pretty low tech.
The hardest part is to find an appropriate branch from which to fashion your net.
I found 2 good but not great candidates from my Christmas tree - a douglas fir.
The main branch was thick enough to make a comfortable handle and it had secondary branches coming off at an angle from 60-90 degrees from the main stem. These arms were thicker (but not as thick as I'd like) they start out about the thickness of a highlighter marker but taper a little too rapidly to about the thickness of a sharpie/pen.
The arms are also long enough to wrap around a 10 inch form to make the frame for the net.
A Whittling Knife - to peel the sticks
Sand Paper - to smooth the sticks and get rid of the pith beneath the bark leftover from inconsistent whittling.
10" bamboo steamer
10-14" zip ties
Clamps - unless you have 8 hands
Steam Bending - this is the typical way folks make the branches pliable enough to work with after drying and removing the bark. You basically get some steam going and put the branch in the steam until you can bend it without it cracking.
Steam bending didn't work for me. The steam set off the carbon monoxide monitor in my kitchen - it was very annoying. Who knew that moisture would set off the alarm. Well it does.
So I used an electric kettle for making hot water for tea and coffee and just poured the hot water over the branch. It worked pretty quickly, you just need a big enough basin so that hot water doesn't drip on you or the floor.
Starting from the handle use zip ties to secure the branch to the form.
Slowly, very slowly, bend the branch against the frame and use the clamps to hold it in place while you finagle the zipties into place.
Cinch the zip ties tight.
Work your way all the way around...
Hang it up to dry. From what I've read on the immernet, this can be a few months to a year.
I'll probably experiment with joining the arms of the net frame as soon as I get a long weekend.