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Carrying Pole (Shoulder Pole\Milkmaid's Yoke)

Posts: 64
Location: Zone 6b, Ontario, Canada
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Anyone have any experience with making, or even just buying Carrying Poles? All I see online are a few really expensive ones looking like they have been whittled from foot thick logs by hand (more effort has been put into making them look old than usable).

I put this in woodworking because most Carrying Poles seem to be made out of wood/bamboo and I could not find any tool building section/misc. section or just a general catch all sub forum for the site. If I missed some better subforum please let me know.
Posts: 1594
Location: Denver, CO
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No, but I hope somebody answers who has done it! It would seem that it would make carrying heavy loads much easier. I wonder what it does to one's neck, though.
Posts: 110
Location: zone 6a, ish
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I always thought those wooden beam yokes would be exhausting to use because they would add so much of their own weight, even if they did distribute the load more evenly over both shoulders.  Gilbert's reply got me thinking and I did some Googling just now to see if there were maybe pictures of neck or shoulder callouses from yoke use like the guys in Japan with mikoshi dako (huge lumps on the neck and shoulders from carrying portable shrine platforms), but came up empty-handed.  

What I did find, though, was an abstract for a paper that explored various materials and designs for Asian-style carrying poles that would reduce body stress.  The paper itself is behind a paywall, but it might be an interesting jumping off point, as it mentions PVC instead of traditional bamboo.  PVC is pretty ick, but it's a lot easier to come by (outside of Asia) than suitable bamboo and much lighter than solid wood.  I was thinking that making a traditional yoke wouldn't be too difficult with 4" PVC and a pool noodle for padding, but I don't know how much you might compromise the strength if you were to cut part of it out where it would rest against your neck.  Anyway, it's a thought.  Good luck!
Jon Wisnoski
Posts: 64
Location: Zone 6b, Ontario, Canada
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I found a site with slightly more information on that paper, but it looks like they are strictly interested in the bendyness of the polls. What is the optimal stiffness. While the primary benefit is improved posture and better distribution of the load.

I am thinking you will need a little neck hole for it to work right. Will try to do some more research, but I was thinking maybe just a 2 2by3s held in the straight line with a third 2by3 board. With a small neck sided hole between the two boards. With all the corners sanded down near the neck.

But I have been getting a few whispers that a canoe carrying yoke might be pretty close to what we are looking for.
Posts: 138
Location: acadian peninsula, New Brunswick, Canada
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I've seen shoulder yokes hanging on the walls of the oldest houses in the
Village Historique Acadien (a theme park/museum about the french settlers
of New Brunswick). It's only recently that I took notice of them.

My land is a woodlot. Last year I cleared a spot to get some light. This spring
I needed around 500lb-800lb of water every day to keep the seeds and seedlings
happy. I wasn't expecting needing this much. The well is probably 600ft away
from the garden and hauling all this water through the woods over rough terrain
with a wheelbarrow made me grumpy. So I built myself a 'djook'. That's how my
father calls this tool (the proper french word for it is 'joug'). I love it.

Like you I scoured the Internet for some directions but there isn't much.
Fortunately I had seen the real thing in the Village. Mine is crude in comparison
but does the job really well. The asian ones seem awfully hard on the shoulder
while I don't feel mine at all, it feels weightless. I used an adze to whittle away the
lumps that hurt and now it fits like a glove.

It's made out of quaking aspen, it's around 40 inches long. As you can see in the
pictures things don't need to be smooth but the shape does need to be right. The
hole for the neck is deep enough so that the weight rests on the trapezius and
not on the spine. Also the cup on the inside is deep enough so that the yoke
doesn't touch the acromion (the shoulder bone).

Be careful about putting too much weight on your spine while fitting the
yoke. Being impatient I had to try the yoke before it fit and the next day my
neck punished me. It was a weird, unusual pain.

If I was to make another one I'd choose a log without a huge knot  This piece
of wood was just lying around and I'm kind of lazy so... And I could probably
make it less bulky although I don't see the need for it. Like I said, I don't feel
its weight. Two water buckets weight around 70lbs.  I will break before it does.

[Thumbnail for jouk1.jpg]
Raw Log
[Thumbnail for jouk2.jpg]
Rough Yoke
[Thumbnail for jouk3.jpg]
Finished Yoke
[Thumbnail for jouk4.jpg]
Yoke Inside View
Posts: 197
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I was looking around on the gear forum and found this post.  Amazing, thousands of years and the same design.  I can imagine a man or woman at the
Time sitting down at a campfire at nite and making that yoke a little more comfortable by removing material or adding padding to it
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