Wednesday, 1 March 2017

It Will Be a Bucket

I'm making my way through the coopering experience.

The bucket starts to take shape.

Last week I have reported about my wooden bucket experiment. I have stopped at the point to establish a bevel at all the stave edges. Let's jump in at this point.

The Staves

All the shorter parts I have shot on the shooting board.

Shooting the edge of a stave

It went ok for the shorter parts. Nevertheless I think it is time to finish my long grain shooting board in the near future. I believe it twill be more comfortable to do such jobs.

Establishing the bevel

 The short staves came out like shown in the picture below.

Three out of twelve staves

It was not possible to shoot the two longer parts on the shooting board. So I had to fin another cool solution.
If you have watched the video then maybe you have observed that the cooper who was presented has got a pretty long wooden plane, which was installed more or less stationary and upside down. Coming from that idea I have flipped over my short wooden jointer and clamped it into my vise.

The longer piece on the secure clamped plane

That done I could slide the longer parts over the plane and establish the bevel freehand. Two remarks - I have used  a cutoff with the 15° bevel as a template and watch your fingers. No I haven't cut myself, but it is obvious what can happen here.
As a last step I have removed every unevenness with general purpose wooden jack.

Small intermezzo here. Have you watched the new video series about sharpening from The English Woodworker? No? Then you should have a look.
Episode 2 was somehow an eye opener for me. I personally have reached a new level of sharpness.

Fine, more than paper thin even shaving

Alright, that's another story. Let's go on with the bucket. All bevels established I could loosely assemble the bucket the first time.

First dry assembly

Looks bucketish, or?

The Bottom

A bottom is missing,  So I have glued up a panel from some offcuts. 

Bottom layout

Then I cut it out and had marked the final thickness to fit into the groove.

Layout lines for bottom thickness

Then I have planed at an angle down to the line.

Planing down to the line

After a while and the one or another correction the bottom finally fit into the groove.

Bottom inserted


Testing the fit of the bottom already showed that it will be let's say challenging to handle all the parts.
So I'm coming back to something I've seen in the video. The guy who made the bucket there had joint the parts with some dowels. I don't like dowels pretty much, but it make sense to me in this case. So I gave it a try.

Therefore I have marked the middle of the beveled edge.....

Marking the middle of the beveled edge

Then I came in about 50mm from both ends. I could do this because I have squared the ends of all staves right at the beginning of the project. As already mentioned, not a necessary step but helpful in this case.

Coming in from the end

That done I have marked all intersections with an awl and then drilled the holes perpendicular in relation to the bevel angle.

Drilled holes and inserted dowels

 It came out like in the picture above. I have inserted some dowels and could mount all staves easily now.

Assembly of two staves

The two longer parts I have marked with a dowel marker. That went well too.

The inserted dowels make the task of assembling the bucket much easier. Additionally I think that the glue up will be easier too.
Yes, yes. You read right. I will glue up this little bucket, although it is not usual. But my bucket has not to be leakproof nor will it contain food.
Usually a bucket receives a ring out of metal or wood around the outside to hold all the staves in place.
But as I'm not a good metal worker and not very experienced in working green wood I will search for an alternative.

Next Steps

The bucket is making good progress. The next step will be to shorten the longer staves and round the ends.
I will make some holes for a handle. and then I'm ready to assemble finally.
A handle has to be made and I already have an idea. But an open point are the outer rings a bucket usually has got. I haven't got access to  green wood. Unless I would commit the forest. Metal work is not mine too. So I'm searching for a solution. Even in this case it would just be decorative.
Of course not all of the tasks I have done are traditional. My goal is to figure out how to build such a bucket with the tools I have access to.

Stay tuned!


  1. Coming along nicely, good job!
    It look a tad on the clunky side (thick staves), but its a lot easier to dry fit than if they were thinner :-)
    So for a first coopering attempt, "thicker staves" is your friend...

    The traditional cooper jointer, as you found out, was a long inverted plane, makes it easier to handle to staves of whatever length on it. They were used usually at an angle, the high end resting on the bench or more often on some sort of bipod (staked legs) and the other resting on the ground.

    Good challenging project, have fun

    Bob, with Rudy begging for a treat :-)

    1. Hi Bob,
      thanks for the kind words.
      I was not sure how thick the material should be, but I wanted to have some "beef" to do some shaping.
      From what I found out I know that the inside of the stave will be hollowed and the outside rounded over.
      Unfortunately I haven't made the groove deep enough to hollow the inside.
      So maybe with rounding over the outside it will get a thinner look. And then perhaps it will be a nice planter ;-)

      Give Rudy a treat from me.

  2. What a great 'exercise' to work out angles!
    Such a great idea!

    1. Hi António,
      It seems that I like angles, somehow. :-)
      But it extends the horizon from my point of view.
      I just have to find the right protractor. I recognized that it is pretty difficult to setup such low angles with the protractors I have in the shop.


  3. Love this project, Stefan. Regarding the quartersawn wood - I'm not a cooper, but I might have thought that the old time coopers didn't use quartersawn wood because they want the wood to swell to close any gaps when carrying a liquid (milk or water). And quartersawn wood will swell in thickness rather than width. Any thoughts on that?

    Another question - if you were to have the bucket wider at the top than the bottom, do you know how it would affect the angle on the edges of the staves?

    1. Hi Matt,
      glad to hear that there is someone out there liking the project :-)
      Honestly I didn't spend a second for thinking about the grain direction. I went to the big box right after work and bought the wood with the least knots.
      But I think you are right. The wood has to swell in width so that the gaps are closed. I did not spend time in thinking through because my bucket will be for dust or work as a planter.
      For the next attempt I will think about it.
      Regarding your last question. That will be the next step of evolution - to taper the bucket. I guess you just have to taper the staves. The angle of the bevel is determined by the number of sides of your polygone.
      Hope I'm not completely wrong, but watch the space. That will be my next try.


    2. By the way, I meant to say something about your comment on Richard McGuire's new video series on sharpening. I've been thinking about purchasing this series, but was waiting to hear about it from someone. Thanks for your comments.

    3. Hi Matt,
      I personally like the unsophisticated way Richard explains the different topics. I have hesitated first as I have seen that the new series is about sharpening. I don't like all the scientific discussions about it. For me it is a necessary evil and not the main topic I would like to spend my time for. But Richard is again showing the pragmatic side of the trade.

  4. Stefan,

    Great learning project. I'll have to add it to my....groan....Bubba I can't believe you can be so corny...just don't say it....but, but the devil made me do it....ok, dodged that one. Whew. :-)

    I've been watching Richard's sharpening videos, what a hoot. We do not differ much on the thin iron and oil stone use, mostly I'm a little fussier about my "fine" stone than he is but he is right on about diamond stones and confirms my thoughts and experience with strops. Diamond stones have a place in either oil or water stone systems but mostly maintenance and some grinding.

    The fourth video was an eye opener for me. It has me re-thinking the use and set up of my LN planes. It will not change the way I work or sharpen much but it could keep me from selling off the LN's which I was leaning very strongly towards.


    1. Hi Ken,
      lol. Honestly I was waiting for this. Really. I couldn't await it... :-)
      I personally like that Richard is always presenting his stuff so unsophisticated. I'm still doing my sharpening on diamond stones but I will give oil stones a try. I've tried to adapt just the technique he is showing in episode two. And just with that I've got better results, even on diamond stones.
      Luckily I only have got a few Veritas planes. But the first thing I did for my small BU smoother was to order an O2 iron, because I wasn't really able to sharpen the A2 one.