Handcrafted Stave Bucket

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Project by stefang posted 12-12-2012 06:21 PM 2750 views 5 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Project Description
A bucket made entirely with hand tools including wooden staves reinforced with hand carved dowels, bottom also made of 3 boards also held together with hand carved dowels, and banding cut from debarked Willow tree branches to hold the whole thing together. No glue. This would be a typical water or milk bucket used as late as 1900 and for over a one or two thousand years before that.

My wife is using the bucket for seasonal floral decorations. It sits right next to our cast iron oven/fireplace. In the winter it shrinks, the bands get a bit loose and cracks appear between the staves. In summer it sucks up the ambient moisture, the cracks disappear and the banding get quite tight. In normal use carrying liquids it would stay tight all the time.

Project History
I was looking through my project gallery and I found that I forgot to post the bucket project Mafe and I worked on about 1-1/2 years ago. We each made our own bucket version using special hand tools that we also made, including a wooden hand plane with a radiused plane iron to plane a curve into the staves (one at a time), a dado knife with a very long shoulder handlel to cut the dados for the bottom and a special wooden lever used to install the bands with. For me, the bands were the most difficult part. I made about 12 bands before I finally succeeded with the special carved joint which keeps them together. I am therefore most proud of this part.

I wanted to get this project into my project gallery and that’s why I’m posting it now. It was was a lot of fun and some aggravation too, and more challenging than I first expected. Both Mads and I blogged our bucket projects, but I was using photo bucket at that time and I inadvertently deleted the related photos, so I took these pics today. If you want to see more basic details you can look it up on Mafe’s blog.

This photo was taken about 3pm here in Norway. As you can see we are having a bit of snow today. It’s now 7pm and still going strong. I may be spending the next few days at home.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

25 comments so far

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2351 days

#1 posted 12-12-2012 06:58 PM

That kind of work is worthy to praise. Magnificent.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View hunter71's profile


3288 posts in 3364 days

#2 posted 12-12-2012 07:05 PM

very nice, nice setting for the picture too.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 2354 days

#3 posted 12-12-2012 07:24 PM

Striking piece of work.

View a1Jim's profile


117283 posts in 3755 days

#4 posted 12-12-2012 07:24 PM

Very nice Mike ,after the holiday season is over you can go find a cow to milk and see if it holds up to it’s historical past.
HA ha ,have a great Christmas.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2717 days

#5 posted 12-12-2012 07:32 PM

Amazing. Looks like a great project to try.

-- I never finish anyth

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4092 days

#6 posted 12-12-2012 07:58 PM

Mike – believe it or not, I haven’t forgotten about my bucket. I am still working on it.

There have been a few disruptions in my woodworking projects. I had to move halfway around the world just to find some willow – but now it is in the sights. I made the plane (and I am happy to report that it is doing double-duty as a scrub plane) as well as the banding tool. I have to wait for the right season for the willow and I’ll have mine completed in the next 6 months.

My view out the window looks like yours.

I hope my bucket turns out as well as yours!

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3092 days

#7 posted 12-12-2012 08:04 PM

I have watched how to build this bucket by hand, however, not with MY talents! At least not yet. Well done!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View stefang's profile


16074 posts in 3512 days

#8 posted 12-12-2012 08:50 PM

Thanks everyone. I can imagine that those who followed the original blog are probably sick of this project but I thought that new members or those who didn’t read the blogs might like to see it.

I did actually test mine and it held water very well. It did take a few minutes for it to swell up and tighten everything up, but it worked extremely well, just like a wooden boat after launching.

I’m very happy to hear that you will making your bucket. I realize that life sometimes gets in the way of our project plans. I hope you are enjoying the experience as much as Mads and I did.

Not with my talents either Mike. It’s just a step-by-step process you can learn while doing it. I actually made 2 buckets. The staves were too thin on the first one for my beginner skill level so I made a thicker one. In the old days in Norway the makers took great pride in producing very thin staves and bottoms to make the bucket as light as possible. I wonder if this was done because they were probably mostly used by women and girls.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Edwin's profile


141 posts in 3176 days

#9 posted 12-12-2012 10:01 PM

Beautiful scene in Norway. Very festive Merry Christmas mike. I read your blog on the bucket, very cool. you have the patience of a saint, which I am lacking in…Ed

-- Ed Port Republic

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3481 days

#10 posted 12-12-2012 10:25 PM

hey mike, i really love this project, anything made by hand with just hand tools is the best to me, and i really love the outside picture, we dont get that here in alabama, but i use to get it in alaska, it sure is a beautiful site…but if it were me i to would be proud of a project like this, im going to have to make some with just hand tools, who knows, maybe a bucket like this will happen, it is surly great inspiration..its so good to have you back…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View stefang's profile


16074 posts in 3512 days

#11 posted 12-12-2012 10:28 PM

Thanks Edwin. I’m not patient either, but if you look at a project as the sum of a lot of smaller projects, each step of which you can enjoy and learn from, then you will get more interesting results while having more fun. I started woodworking with woodturning because I could get the work finished quicker and easier without having to do a lot of planning, but easy stuff is usually not too thrilling so I slowly evolved a different attitude.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View stefang's profile


16074 posts in 3512 days

#12 posted 12-12-2012 11:40 PM

Thanks Grizz. I know whatever you set out to do it will turn out really well and have that special Grizz unique touch to it. I often think how nice and quite and relatively dust-free hand working is. The only thing that seems difficult with handwork is re-sawing wide boards/planks.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View shipwright's profile


8133 posts in 2976 days

#13 posted 12-13-2012 01:10 AM

Very nice Mike
..........and it looks a lot more Christmas-y there than here in Az. (I golfed today in shorts.)
I like the sunshine and warmth we find here, but I’m a Canadian at heart and I miss the snow (a little) at Christmas.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18381 posts in 3854 days

#14 posted 12-13-2012 02:00 AM

Beautiful Christmassy setting! Nice work on the buck. Looks great. Good to see you out and about Mike ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3092 days

#15 posted 12-13-2012 02:57 AM

@stefang, AKA Mike,
Either way, I am amazed at those that can do this! Well done!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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