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coopering...making wooden buckets  RSS feed

 
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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
[Thumbnail for IMG_1976.JPG]
from underneath
IMG_1974.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1974.JPG]
square from the bottom
IMG_1978.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1978.JPG]
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.
 
Posts: 53
Location: Sth Gippsland and Melbourne
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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.
 
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Location: nemo, 5a/b
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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
 
David Wood
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steve folkers wrote:

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.



Glad you thought it was useful, Steve. Great to see what you're doing through this thread. Glen has a lot of good stuff on the Rundell and Rundell blog. He's doing some interesting greenwood work. I think he's done some greenwood training on the US East Coast.

An interest of mine is what are the costs and benefits of using parts of the technology stack that we've built up as a species since we started using tools and fire instead of the current common practice. I think sometimes new tools/products etc get adopted just because they're new and there's a large advertising budget. But having grown up on a farm I don't think that just because it's what people used to do it's the best solution. Power tools are very useful, for example. I use handsaws a lot but I would be very reluctant to rip logs of any size with a handsaw as per how pit sawyers used to work as against using a sawmill or chainsaw mill. Cutting up significant amounts of firewood without a chainsaw is challenging to say the least. One of the most important sustainability inputs is time.

I wrote up an article on the bucket making course for one of the local sustainability magazines. Here's some of my thoughts about using wooden buckets instead of plastic. Be very interested in what other people have to say about this topic.

"Making a bucket from wood using these traditional techniques raises a number of interesting sustainability aspects. The wooden bucket is a bit heavier than a plastic bucket but a plastic bucket is generally less robust with a shorter life. George says that if cared for a wooden bucket can last 30-40 years. The wooden bucket takes an hour or so of skilled labour in a backyard workshop with tools available. This would make the wooden bucket more expensive than plastic. The plastic bucket requires a dedicated manufacturing plant and a source of hydrocarbons. Wooden buckets, by comparison, can be made almost anywhere with a simple workshop, even from irregular width staves, perhaps scrap wood and pieces of scrap metal ribbon. Plastic can tolerate a wide range of substances, some of which might damage or contaminate wood. But a surprising range and volume of goods used to be shipped in wooden barrels."
 
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Location: Boise, Idaho
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Judith Browning wrote:this book/dvd tells how to make wooden buckets in the tradition of those I have pictured in this thread..........no power tools or glue needed....
I think, Jim G. uses a silicone in the joints of the bucket, which of course, isn't traditional, but is one of the down sides, I think, to trying to mass produce an item for the public. The buckets pictured in this thread have been carefully fitted so that when filled with a liquid the wood swells and holds tight without the help of a glue or silicone (although cattail fluff is sometimes used to seal the bucket bottom).....it can be done



Does anyone know how the cattail fluff is used to seal the bucket?
 
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Mike Patterson wrote: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


Mike, I'm sorry i missed this post...Steve has 'retired' from the Folk Center and no longer makes buckets, etc. The center still has a Cooper Shop but no practicing cooper. He had always planned to pass on what he knew to someone but the wear on his back caught up with him these past couple years. No more hauling logs out of the woods, swinging an ax, etc., although he still does much more than many his age and younger
 
Judith Browning
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Oaken Sage wrote:

Judith Browning wrote: The buckets pictured in this thread have been carefully fitted so that when filled with a liquid the wood swells and holds tight without the help of a glue or silicone (although cattail fluff is sometimes used to seal the bucket bottom).....it can be done



Does anyone know how the cattail fluff is used to seal the bucket?



I'll type in Steve's notes...he said it would be just a couple sentences though

The head (bottom) is fitted by measurement, then trial and error, until it fits snugly all the way around, without holding the staves apart once the hoops are driven up.
Then it's removed (the 'head') and short pieces of roving are twisted up out of the cattail fluff and poked into the bottom of the croze (groove) with a chince ( I used a short standard screwdriver) until a continuous layer lines it. Then the head is set again and hoops driven up. Once when I told a visitor I sealed the bottoms with cattails, a little girl said "Oh, poor kitty!"
Barrels and sometimes buckets were also "flagged" with the leaves of cattail (US) or rush (UK), slit to dimension with the thumbnail, but fluff was common homemade usage. Both are just meant to swell up, until the wood does.

 
steward
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