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It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the cooper in pre-industrial times. For hundreds of years, wooden barrels, hogsheads, kegs, tuns, and firkins held and transported just about every good imaginable. Even though the work of turning seasoned staves into solid, watertight containers was physically and mentally demanding, the fast and precise workflow of a skilled practitioner has been compared to a dance.
In the spirit of celebration of pre-industrial craft, Issue Five features master cooper Marshall Scheetz (@marshallscheetz) walking us through the ins and outs of the trade - from colorful terminology to unique task-specific tools, and he presents a basic primer for the process of making a coopered vessel. Marshall explains, "Most of the work involved in coopering is measured by eye and feel. There are very few absolute measuring tools involved in the trade. However, you will find there are boundaries in which a cooper’s work is confined and regulated." He looks at stock selection, firing, and fitting the heads, all with the goal of making this traditional trade approachable to the modern hand-tool woodworker.
The next Issue Five article announcement comes tomorrow…