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coopering...making wooden buckets

 
Posts: 7914
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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I spent some time in my husband's cooper shop attempting a bit of a photo documentation of his work, the tools used and some history of bucket coopering. He apprenticed locally with a student of Alex Stewart's fifteen years ago. Alex Stewart was interviewed in the third Foxfire book. My husbands teacher taught at the John C. Campbell folk school for several years.
Printed text and coopered items all credited to my husband unless noted otherwise.

Please ask questions if you have any....If he does any coopering this year I'll add some pictures of the process. He's been busy making pitchforks and carving spoons and bowls so far.

I'll be posting pictures of coopered vessels and the tools used to make them along with other bucket cooper shop work including spoons and bowls.



and a link to his work MAKING WOODEN PITCHFORKS
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cedar bucket with white oak hoops and hemp rope handle
cedar bucket with white oak hoops and hemp rope handle
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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This is a great video of Alex Stewart who taught my husband's teacher..........check out the bib overalls
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTb2zVpQGg4&feature=player_detailpage





hemp rope handled cedar water bucket....water tight once water swells the wood....cattail fluff is used to seal the bottom.
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hoop join
hoop join
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detail of handle
detail of handle
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 7914
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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these pictures are an example of how the staves are shaped to fit together. In this small example, ones fingers are used for the 'key stone' to hold the gap while the last stave is put in place..then the hoops are knocked down tightly to hold the staves in place until wooden hoops are added.
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Judith Browning
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PIGGINS!.......a small bucket with one stave extended as the handle.

These are made from local eastern red cedar, split from the log...both the staves and head (bottom) are red cedar.

The white oak hoops are split from carefully selected white oak growing out back on our land.

The bottom is sealed with cattail fluff!
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cedar piggin
cedar piggin
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white oak hoop join on piggin
white oak hoop join on piggin
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inside cedar piggin
inside cedar piggin
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another smaller piggin with lock and key hoop join
another smaller piggin with lock and key hoop join
 
Judith Browning
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a small washtub....

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inside
inside
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head (bottom)
head (bottom)
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Judith Browning
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tools....my pictures overlap so there are some repeats...I wanted to give a picture of the wall from left to right. His shop at home is nowhere near so neat:) These are all of his woodworking tools ...not just the ones used for coopering.
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Location: Maine, USA
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Wow - these are beautiful. Pieces of art! Thanks for sharing.

Gaz
www.almostafarmer.com
 
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Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
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Can you provide some detail on the white oak bands? How are they formed and what keeps them tight?

Thanks,
Jerry

P.S. This is a skill I would love to learn, but too many other demands on my time.
 
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This is outstanding to see. Thanks so much for posting. I always wondered what the surname 'Cooper' meant too.
 
pollinator
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Location: North Carolina zone 7
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This is hardcore awesome. Real craftsmanship in a functional product. Thanks for posting.
 
Judith Browning
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Thanks, everyone...I am enjoying this also!


Jerry Ward wrote:Can you provide some detail on the white oak bands? How are they formed and what keeps them tight?

Thanks,
Jerry

P.S. This is a skill I would love to learn, but too many other demands on my time.



Jerry, I'll be posting an answer soon...


....a couple more pictures. This is a lidded table ware bowl with spoon....used for sugar, mustard, honey...condiments for the table.
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Judith Browning
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Jerry Ward wrote:Can you provide some detail on the white oak bands? How are they formed and what keeps them tight?



...the answer from S.

"The hoops are made with the same basic green-woodworking (of white oak) technology as the pitchforks and myriad other household objects-splitting, hewing, shaving, scraping,etc.
The goal of all coopering is to make conical arches of tapered and radially beveled staves, held tightly together by unstretchable hoops driven down on the cone.
The hoop and the taper are usually judged so friction alone will hold the hoop in place, but then they are often nailed or pegged in place anyway. I use walnut pegs. What keeps the hoop tight, ultimately, is maintenance...the hoops can always be driven up tighter, or replaced with slightly smaller ones. The nails or pegs have to be pulled and replaced, of course."


In my first post I've linked to the pitchfork thread that pictures most of the 'green woodworking techniques' mentioned above.

One thing that I notice he doesn't mention in this answer is that the hoops are completed and joined into a circle of the correct diameter and THEN driven on to the cone.

feel free to ask more questions....








 
Judith Browning
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......two more buckets with different handles. The bucket in the first two was done by another student of my husbands teacher. Both have 'lock and key' type join for the hoop.
My pictures distort the handles...the extended stave and handle are of equal size on each side of the buckets.


this is an EDIT........i had attributed the buckets in reverse.
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Judith Browning
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...and they hold water
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Location: Colorado/Montana
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Those pics are gorgeous.
 
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