I just read most of an article with instructions on how to make your own “vintage” wire basket, using only wire hangers (the kind you use for dress shirts) and floral wire, plus the tools and a few optional parts.
Really, it’s a pretty good idea, if you have the patience and time, and you want something like that. It’s all fine and dandy for collecting dust . . . and maybe for holding eggs with the contents blown out a little hole in the end (never quite understood the whole point of that activity), but a vintage wire basket, authentic or not, just doesn’t cut it for everyday, heavy duty use.
There are projects that even Longaberger couldn’t handle. Take, for instance, the machined castings that they use in engines. The things have to be degreased, at some point in the process, and, as sturdy as the Longabergers are, they just wouldn’t be suited to holding that kind of material, through the cleaning process. Nothing against Longaberger–at the same time, an industrial-grade basket wouldn’t look right holding a serving dish. Different jobs require different materials.
For industrial grade wire baskets, you need to take it up a notch from the coat hangers and floral wire, with some welding, at least. The joints need to be able to take a beating, and a little bit of floral wire won’t do it. Consider materials like stainless and carbon steel. They can handle the beating from rough parts, as well as the solvents and other cleaning/degreasing solutions. Tough jobs require tough materials, and those materials need to be well-designed to hold up.
There are a multitude of wire mesh baskets out there, and you can get them in all shapes and sizes, but not all of them are willing to work with you to design a custom-engineered basket to suit your particular use. You may need smaller holes in the mesh or a swinging square handle, rather than a fixed round one. What about the more fragile pieces that will get broken without little fingers on which you can perch them while they’re in the basket? Different people and organizations need different solutions, with very particular details, in many cases.
Even though there are myriad customizing options, not every project needs the bells and whistles. For those projects, a standard stainless steel basket or one made of carbon steel may just do the trick. If you’re not looking for the fancy stuff, a company like Three M Tool will sell you as many or as few as you need, even with a variety of options on mesh size, wire size, handle shape, handle style, etc.
So, whether you need a “little yellow basket” for carrying around a love letter (better check out the make-your-own-vintage-basket site . . . paint is one of the options) or a heavy-duty, can take almost anything, industrial-grade wire mesh basket, the opportunities, even the “customizable” ones, are out there on the web, available even for individuals like me.