Issue 14 T.O.C. – Marshall Scheetz – “Coopering a Norwegian Tankard”

This post is part of a blog series revealing the table of contents of upcoming Issue Fourteen. As is our custom, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is to come. 

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The diversity of Norwegian woodcraft culture comes as a surprise to many, who typically associate the country with Vikings, fjords, and stories of trolls. But for author and master cooper Marshall Scheetz, Norway brings to mind visions of woodenware: butter cups, lidded porridge tubs, beer tankards. A 2022 research trip to several museums and institutions in the country offered insight and inspiration, and Scheetz set out to replicate one of the most prevalent forms of coopered vessel: the tankard.

Beginning with a brief outline of the different types of cooperage and its usefulness in daily life, Scheetz details some uniquely Norwegian work. Distinctive from English and American containers, these often featured richly decorated surfaces and beautiful embellishments. But beauty and utility went hand-in-hand, and Scheetz soon begins to describe exactly how he reproduced this piece.

Using the shaving horse and carving stump, the process of turning clear softwood stock into a drinking vessel is described vividly. From beveling the edges of the staves to carving a handle to setting the hoops, Scheetz offers a clear account of the entire process. Throughout, he shares the cooper’s thought process and workflow that could allow for the fast, efficient production of many such vessels over the years. Though it is a challenging, skill-stretching task, the results can speak for themselves. 

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