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Blog entry by stefang posted 03-07-2011 08:16 PM 3716 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Another little update. I’ve finished the stave’s and tuned up all the edge angles, so my next step is to smooth the outside. As you might recall I referenced the inside of the stave’s when locating the dowel holes. The idea is of course to have the inside of the bucket as smooth as possible. This worked out pretty good as you can see from the pictures below. I don’t think my bucket will leak through the stave’s now, but I’m not as confident about it being tight where the bottom fits into the lag.

Because the stave’s are aligned on the inside, when I smooth the outside, this will (theoretically) make all the stave’s a uniform thickness. They aren’t very far out, but this extra step will give the bucket a smoother appearance as well. I plan to keep repositioning the temporary bands as I work with my spokeshave. I’m not sure yet how I will hold the bucket during the smoothing, but I’ll figure it out and pass along a photo. As you can see, I’m using ratchet type cargo fasteners which are dirt cheap and really work well.

I also plan to cut the binding materials tomorrow and I hope get them ready. The handle will be riven from a long piece of pine about 1/8” thick and soaked in water for a day or two. Once good and soaked I will try to bend it to a round shape and then put it into the bucket to dry. The bucket will help it retain it’s round shape while it dries. I don’t know how well this will work out, but we will see.

The binding will have to be split in two, again by riving with a knife, and then the pith in the center has to be cleaned out and the bark removed. After that the binding will have to be softened up by pulling it back and forth across a rounded post secured in the work bench or somewhere solid. After that the binding will be measured directly on the buck and marked to indicate where the locking notches are to be cut and then thinned out on the ends.

I’ll be taking photos of everything needed and the methods for the above work as I do it myself, but I just wanted to give everyone a preview of the next steps in the project.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

11 comments so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2878 days

#1 posted 03-07-2011 08:34 PM

Looking Good

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2861 days

#2 posted 03-07-2011 08:48 PM

Looking almost water proof Mike. Will the binding’s be constructed like swallowtail shaker boxes? And is your binding material kiln dried?

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3111 days

#3 posted 03-07-2011 09:03 PM

Hi Mike,
Looking really good!
I will not be in the work shop from 9-15 Marts, so I will not be on the bucket for a week or so, but it could seem like you will be a good step ahead by then.
I finished your present this morning, so I will post it tomorrow, and you should have it not too long…
Best of my thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#4 posted 03-07-2011 09:32 PM

Jamie Thanks for your encouragement. Dave The binding will be put on wet and shrink as it drys. This will (again theoretically) keep the stave’s tight together. Mads Thank you for the chance to catch up. I hope you will be having a wonderful time between the 9th and the 15th. I don’t know what this present is, but I love you like a son for taking your own time to do anything for this old guy.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3137 days

#5 posted 03-07-2011 11:45 PM

looking forward to see you do some bindingwork :-)

thank´s for the update
take care

View sharad's profile


1117 posts in 3826 days

#6 posted 03-08-2011 09:22 AM

The bucket looks very nice even at this stage. Hats off to your meticulous way of doing it and for sharing with us so nicely.


-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View Roz's profile


1699 posts in 3808 days

#7 posted 03-14-2011 05:34 AM

You have been hard at work on this bucket for a while now. If buckets were this difficult to make, no wonder the Vikings had such bad attitudes. (JOKE)

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#8 posted 03-14-2011 06:08 PM

Hi Terry, good one. I thought it might be fun to respond seriously to your friendly quip in case folks are getting the impression about the work load involved, as it does seem excessive. Firstly, I would like to say that there has been a whole lot of down-time on my side due to health issues. As for work, I have actually done two buckets, but I had trouble with the dowels on the first one and ruined it because my staves were so thin. The vikings made staves down to 1/4” thick, but they were much better at it than me.

I think that I might be able to make a bucket in two days and certainly in three now from start to finish after getting the experience with these first ones. I am still struggling a bit with the bindings having run out of branches that failed due to breakage, and bad joints, but I think that is behind me now. I still have to learn to split branches properly, but that doesn’t really slow me down that much.

I’m not sure how long it would take a viking to make one, but I would think about somewhere between 1/2 to a full day would be possible.

The doweling had to be hand carved in the old days from a squared stick and not just rounded, but also pointed at both ends with a cove in the center. A bucket with 12 stave’s would require over 50 of these including the dowels in the bottom. So time consuming. Also he would have to have all the materials at hand including the binding materials.

I can now plane a stave outside and inside, cut the dado (lag) and angle the stave edges all in about 13 minutes each. Just a couple of hours work to make 12 staves. The bottom takes about 1/2 hours. Now you have a bucket that needs doweling. Making the dowels takes about 1 hour. Drilling for the dowels takes about 1 hour. Now you have a bucket that needs binding. All this supposes that everything goes perfectly, and of course it doesn’t, but it’s not so far off. No work breaks though!

I have found this to be so much fun that I plan to do more of these projects in the future where I can use the skills learned on the bucket to produce other things. Lots of possibilities with an historic perspective out there.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4182 days

#9 posted 03-15-2011 12:49 PM

I hope your upcoming projects will be classes as well. I am thoroughly enjoying watching the progress and the learning curve of those building their own versions.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3356 days

#10 posted 03-15-2011 02:04 PM

I’m glad you are enjoying this project Debbie. I think most of us are at least somewhat curious about what how woodworking was done by our forebears with rich traditions all the way back to ancient Egypt and probably a lot further back in time than that. I would like to do more of this sort of thing, perhaps building on the skills we are acquiring with this project or maybe something entirely different. Whatever catches the imagination.

Today I read an article about how the Egyptians drilled through granite while quarrying blocks of stone for use in building the pyramids. They used a wooden pin about 24” long and maybe 1” diameter. At the bottom of the pin was a tube made from copper. The tube was filled with sand or quartz. The sand acted as the grinding medium. The drilling pin of wood was driven by a bow about 1,25 M long. This bow technique was also used for making a fire, and myriad other uses, many in the area of woodworking. This example of course isn’t woodworking, but it does illustrate almost forgotten skills with extremely simple tools to produce something which even after thousands of years is still one of the greatest wonders of the world.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4182 days

#11 posted 03-15-2011 02:21 PM

your journey is going to be fascinating to follow – and a treasure for generations to come.
I’m glad you are sharing the results of your curiousity with us

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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