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coopering...making wooden buckets

 
Posts: 7924
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Alex Stewart "Portrait of a Pioneer"
Portrait of a Pioneer at Amazon

 
Judith Browning
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Well, my husband is coopering this month but I haven't made it in to town to take some pictures of him working, so I sent the camera with him yesterday.........here are a few shots of staves in the works.......all photos taken at the Cooper Shop at the Ozark Folk Center.
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steward
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Wow, fresh cedar is an amazing colour!
 
Judith Browning
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More on coopering in the 'book' forum The Cooper and his Trade by Kenneth Kilby
 
gardener
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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John Devitt wrote:What other material can be used for the hoops?

Here in the PNW I have lots of cedar, but not much Oak. I have Fir, Hemlock, Maple and Alder.

thanks in advance.



I would use the maple trees for hoops in your neck of the woods. work them green and they will be easier to form.

Alder would do nicely for the staves for making buckets and tubs and even dry barrels.

The cedars of the PNW are traditional for making the old style "hot tubs" Staves.
 
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Thank you, Judith, for all this great information and wonderful pictures!

I'm trying to track down a curved drawknife and am having somewhat of a hard time finding a good source. Would your husband (or anyone else) have any recommendations for where to buy one or a good manufacturer to look out for? I don't mind paying a higher price for good quality. I'd prefer to find a good used antique one somewhere, but might be a bit more lost as to knowing wether or not it's any good.

I've found that flexcut makes a small drawknife that's apparently flexible, which maybe would work? Didn't see anything on Lee Valley's website. Lie-Nielsen has a somewhat expensive one that says it's curved, but doesn't look to be curved.. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/product/drawknives/1-draw-c-drawknives?node=4090


Thanks again for all your quality posts!

-WY
 
Bryant RedHawk
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drawknives

also do a search for traditional wood working tools, there are quite a few companies that still sell the hand tools needed for traditional wood working.

For coopering you will find that there are a few tools that just might need to be made by you. It is nearly impossible to find a croze shave ( croze plane) anymore except for antique ones, which do still work if they aren't cracked.

Other tools that are handy to have on hand are Scorp, Spoke Shaves, Planes, In-shave, Coopers Adze, Hoop driver and hammer (if using metal bands) and Coopers In-shave.

this site: barrel making
has lots of good links as well as photos/ drawings of the tools of this trade.

This site is also good: tools of the cooper trade
 
Mike Patterson
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Thanks, Bryant. Those links were very helpful. I think I'm looking for an inshave.

What about using a router for cutting the croze?

-WY
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Cutting the Croze with a router would probably be doable but the proper shape is not available in a single router bit to my knowledge.
 
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Mike Patterson wrote:Thank you, Judith, for all this great information and wonderful pictures!

I'm trying to track down a curved drawknife and am having somewhat of a hard time finding a good source. Would your husband (or anyone else) have any recommendations for where to buy one or a good manufacturer to look out for? I don't mind paying a higher price for good quality. I'd prefer to find a good used antique one somewhere, but might be a bit more lost as to knowing wether or not it's any good.

I've found that flexcut makes a small drawknife that's apparently flexible, which maybe would work? Didn't see anything on Lee Valley's website. Lie-Nielsen has a somewhat expensive one that says it's curved, but doesn't look to be curved.. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/product/drawknives/1-draw-c-drawknives?node=4090

Thanks again for all your quality posts!

-WY



You seem to have the major woodworker's tool sites ( if you also have Woodcraft and Traditional Woodworker). I can only add that I suppose that by "curved" you mean a barrel cooper's hollow knife, presumably still available from more specialized cooper's tool suppliers, at astronomical prices. I don't use one (although I have inshaves for bowls, etc.); I use a 4" scorp on buckets and churns and a 1 1/2" one on smaller stuff. I do tubs so rarely it hasn't been a problem. (I do the hollowing of the inside of the staves after setting up, or raising, the vessel, instead of hollowing staves individually beforehand as barrels are done.)

See Alex Stewart in The Foxfire Book 3 for making your own croze. The old French word croze just means cross, because the tool is basically a specialized marking gauge, a stick through a board (looking like a cross from the side),adjustable and held by a wedge. The cutting tooth on a bucket croze is usually a piece of an old file, burnt to un-harden, with saw teeth filed into it. (A barrel croze has two knife blades and a "hawk" raker.) Router or croze, whatever you use, the important thing is to get a clean edge to the groove, without chatter or rip-outs that would leak. Usually this means going around and around, a lot of careful little cuts, instead of one big oops.
IMG_1968.JPG
my croze...from the top
my croze...from the top
 
steve folkers
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Here's some more shots of my old croze. Ignore the shape of the body-I was copying an old one. Make it fit your hands.
I used sycamore, oak and walnut. the old one was buckeye and laurel.
IMG_1976.JPG
from underneath
from underneath
IMG_1974.JPG
square from the bottom
square from the bottom
IMG_1978.JPG
square from the side
square from the side
 
pollinator
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Location: Ontario
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This thread is amazing! Thank you Judith for documenting and sharing. You've done a great job of taking me through your shop and through the process. Thank you Steve for your great work.
 
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For anyone interested in doing a coopering course in Victoria, Rundell and Rundell in Kyneton host a course led by George Smithwick who's a 6th generation cooper, a nice bloke and a patient and excellent instructor. Even an inexperienced woodworker like me successfully made a bucket that held water! With, it should be said, a fair bit of help from George.

Here's a link with some photos:

http://rundellandrundell.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/put-this-on-your-bucket-list.html

 
steve folkers
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David Wood wrote:For anyone interested in doing a coopering course in Victoria, Rundell and Rundell in Kyneton host a course led by George Smithwick who's a 6th generation cooper, a nice bloke and a patient and excellent instructor. Even an inexperienced woodworker like me successfully made a bucket that held water! With, it should be said, a fair bit of help from George.

Here's a link with some photos:

http://rundellandrundell.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/put-this-on-your-bucket-list.html



David, thank you for pictures of a good bucket class. Some of his horses and tools look just like mine! And I covet his bick iron. And thank you especially for the link at the end to a 26 minute video (a 1981 episode of a BBC show on handmaking things) on an Irish cooper making churns in regional styles. (Ireland has at least five styles.) I recognized Ned Gavin right off from an article I have, a chapter out of the book Irish Traditional Crafts. At first I thought the pictures in the article might even be stills from the show, because he's making the same County Mayo type churn, but no, he has his coat off throughout, and instead of white cats, there's a little white dog. A note I put in the margin reminds me of an Irishman I met who grew up in County Clare, who remembered tinkers coming around in the spring and fall to do repairs, including replacing damaged hazel hoops on churns with tin, probably in the 1950s.
 
Mike Patterson
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Thank you, Steve, for the information. I'd love to come down and visit your workshop sometime this year. We're just up in Northeast Missouri.

Do you also make casks by any chance?

-WY
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