LumberJocks

Does anyone know anything about the art of coopering?

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by jockmike2 posted 06-21-2008 11:29 PM 2550 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am in the process making a couple large teardrop shaped supports for a table, but know absolutely nothing about coopering and the two supports are rather large. Is there an expert among the Lumberjocks that could give me some pointers or ideas where to hunt for information that would be of help to a begginer. That’s the reason I’m asking here rather than a blind search on line. I could search for days and get no where. I have a basic understanding of what coopering is and understand I won’t learn it over night, but I have to start somewhere. For those that don’t know coopering is almost a lost art of making round wood by stacking it and either holding it together using round bands of steel or rope, think of old buckets and barrels. Anyway any direction would be helpful.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -



17 comments so far

View tresselk's profile

tresselk

28 posts in 2521 days


#1 posted 06-22-2008 12:15 AM

I don’t know much from personal experience, however, David Marks show, “Wood Works,” did an episode on coopering. I think David Marks is a wonderful and inspiring woodworker. You can access the whole episode on coopering online if your interested.
Just go to
http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/woodworking
and search cooper. It should bring up the “Coopered Hall Table” episode.

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2741 days


#2 posted 06-22-2008 12:52 AM

Here’s a good link about barrel making:

http://www.bakerblockmuseum.org/heritage/cooper/barrelmaking.htm

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3971 posts in 2816 days


#3 posted 06-22-2008 01:09 AM

Mike, you should look into a Bird’s Mouth bit

This picture is from the Lee Valley website. These bits are designed to cut into the edge of the lumber, and because the angles of the cuts nest into one another, arduous geometry and tricky glue ups are done away with.

Eagle America also has these bits.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2741 days


#4 posted 06-22-2008 01:28 AM

Those bits are what I used to make the round sections on my 2×4 birdcage. Check it out if interested.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2999 days


#5 posted 06-22-2008 09:40 AM

Thanks for the idea about the bits, that c. bit might do the trick. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks also Gary for the Link I looked it over and it will be helpful, and thanks tresselk, that link will be helpful also. Doug, you alway come through, with pics and everything. I’ve seen those bits before, it just never dawned on me. Thanks fellas.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View John Fry's profile

John Fry

74 posts in 2453 days


#6 posted 06-22-2008 10:46 PM

Mike,

The bird’s mouth bits will work if they fit your desired curves, but a customized curve like a tear drop, will probably require a different and more traditional approach.

Coopering is really not all that hard, but it can require some careful layout, angle measurement, and fixture and jig building. I’ve never used the cable clamp method that drills holes through each stave, but simple forms are not hard either.

I built a bathroom vanity with a coopered door and you can see the construction details by going to my website gallery. Here is the link and I think it might be helpful if you want try to do it the old fashion, one stave at a time, method.

Coopered Door

HTH, Have fun, and let me know if you have any questions.

-- John, Chisel and Bit Custom Crafted Furniture, www.chiselandbit.com

View Karson's profile

Karson

34916 posts in 3153 days


#7 posted 06-23-2008 04:10 AM

Mike I was going to suggest the bird mouth bits. Good luck.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Loren's profile

Loren

7826 posts in 2400 days


#8 posted 06-23-2008 07:17 AM

I’ve picked up knowledge of it because I built conga drums
when I was younger.

If you are actually going to make barrels, with bent staves
and steel rings rammed down over them you are in for some
tough work.

Most Conga guys used a template to rip the bevels on the
tablesaw. It’s also possible to pre-bend the staves and
build a fancy jig with linear bearings to cut the bevels.

What you need, I think, is “pinch dogs” and a way to
accurately set jointer bevels. I never used a birds mouth
bit or hollow-round bits. I bought a bit once for cutting
16-sided figures but I don’t remember ever using it. I
generally built larger drums with at least 24 staves. Smaller
ones I built without the bend sides so using templates
wasn’t necessary – just a tablesaw and a taper jig.

If you are making full round drums or barrels it’s best to
get some cold-rolled steel and hammer out some hoops.
If you don’t weld a heavy pair of rivets is fine. Be prepared
to use a lot of muscle and glue.

If you are just making coopered doors it’s more of an exercise
in finesse. The pinch dogs make it easier to glue the bevels
together but you still have to be very attentive to make sure your
joints are tight both inside and outside the door.

When I researched this stuff it was very hard to find usable
information. I had to re-invent it myself. Later I would come across
information here and there and read it attentively.

If you are bending wood and joining it along bevels be prepared
for a lot of fussing to get it right. Old style coopers used
a 4 ft. long inverted plane to shoot the bevels by hand and
eye. These days barrels are made on automated machines that
cut the beveled staves flat and they are bent afterwards.

If you just want to get it done you might try the template
method… then bending, then refining the bevels on a large,
flat sanding board.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2999 days


#9 posted 06-23-2008 02:04 PM

What I need are two teardrop shaped coopered pieces about four ft wide and 36 inches high, with the point at the top as an apex to hold a long beam about 7ft with three cross beams about 3ft long. I know it sounds like a goat f_. but I’m hoping for something quite out of the ordinary and beautiful as I saw on FWW in their gallery. Not exact but close. I’ll try and find the pick and get it up here.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View davidtheboxmaker's profile

davidtheboxmaker

373 posts in 2558 days


#10 posted 06-23-2008 06:30 PM

I think you’ll find an article in a recent FWW mag. showing how a table was made with coopered pieces as you describe.

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2999 days


#11 posted 06-25-2008 02:00 AM

Thanks Dave I’ll check it out, I think I have that mag.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2999 days


#12 posted 06-25-2008 06:34 AM

I am trying to get the picture posted here of what I’m talking about, without success, I might add. <insert>table!javascript:void(0);(table)!

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2999 days


#13 posted 06-25-2008 06:42 AM

The table is made by a guy named Guarino, out of ash and bubinga, built in six weeks, for a Thanksgiving deadline.
By the holy heeby jeebies I finally got a post on here. The first ever, after oh, about 2 yrs. What a putz. I tell you what, give a monkey a typewriter and eventually, you know. Thanks for all the help guys. I would have wrote this in the last message but I did’nt want to mess up the pic. LOL

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3971 posts in 2816 days


#14 posted 06-25-2008 06:58 AM

Glue Up Curved Slabs in One Shot by David Marks was in the Issue 198 (a coupla issues back). He drills two holes through (across the face width) at each end of the staves, and threads aircraft cable through poly tubing and then through the assembly. There is a engineered clamping frame that let’s him tighten the assembly with a drill motor during glue-up. Then he withdraws the wires (which are protected from inadvertent glue by the poly tubing.

You can download the article as a pdf if you have a FWW.com subscription. And they have a free 14 day trial currently. Soooo recommended. I already have downloaded and saved 121.5 MB of stuff going back to some B&W articles from the old FWW. Included are a ton of Classic John Arno articles (the lamentably deceased wood expert) on wood identification and use. There was a man of deep knowledge and abiding excitement about his subject.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View John Fry's profile

John Fry

74 posts in 2453 days


#15 posted 06-25-2008 07:24 AM

You know what Mike?

I don’t think those teardrop shaped bases are coopered. Those just looks like sculpted “stack laminations” to me. If you look real close the glue lines are horizontal between the individual boards and the inner and outer surfaces are “sculpted” to smooth out the lines.

There is no real need to figure any angles at all, or worry about learning how to “cooper”.

-- John, Chisel and Bit Custom Crafted Furniture, www.chiselandbit.com

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase