For this you will need 24 of your thicker rods. You must sharpen the butt ends of these rods using your knife. I use a Stanley knife but whatever sort of knife you use it must be very sharp. This is called slyping the ends and is usually done in one or two cuts. The result is a diagonal cut taking away about half the end of the rod making a point which is easy to insert into the base. The base is then put on the floor concave side up and the stakes inserted one at each side of a base stick so that the slyped (cut) side is up. They should be inserted as far as possible towards the centre of the base. This can be quite difficult to do sometimes and it is easy to damage your elbows trying to force the rods into the base. One method of doing this is to hold the rod firmly a few inches from the end with your left hand and by hammering your right hand into your left hand the stake can be driven into the base. It feels a bit awkward to start but it becomes very easy after few baskets and saves the tendons in your elbows.Pricking up
Once all the stakes have been inserted they must be pricked up. Turn the whole thing over so that the convex side up. Take a knife and insert the blade parallel to the rod at the point at which you wish it to bend. This point is about 1/8th of an inch away from the base. Push the blade of the knife about half way through the rod but not all the way through and lift the rod to a vertical position at the same time twisting the knife through 90 degrees. This has the effect of splitting the willow on one side as you bend the rod up the split will open a bit and stop the willow rod from breaking (hopefully!!) If it does break then you have to take the rod out and start again. Once you have bent the rod you can let it go again and do the next rod and so on until all the stakes have been bent. Gather up all the stakes and tie them at the top or put them into a hoop to hold them in position.