Blog — Cooperage RSS

An Exploration of Norwegian Staved Vessels

All images courtesy DigitaltMuseum. As a master cooper and historian focused on preserving the trade of coopering, I’ve been humbled by what I’ve learned over the past 20 years.  Sometimes, my research leads to faraway places like Norway, a place that for many brings to mind Vikings, fjords, trolls, and gnomes. But as a cooper, when I think of Norway I fantasize about staved vessels: butter cups, lidded porridge tubs, barrels of salt fish, and beer tankards. Many people don’t realize that Norwegian culture is one of wood and woodworking – a cooper’s dream!    My debts are great, but I am especially indebted to Mortise & Tenon Magazine for supporting me in an upcoming study trip to Norway this September...

Continue reading

Toward a More Particularized Understanding of the Trades

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of essays by master cooper Marshall Scheetz. We’ve recently been talking with Scheetz about fascinating new research he’s been doing relating to aspects of his trade he’s not yet explored in all his years at the block. We’ve published his writing before and loved it so much that we decided to give him our platform here to share his latest findings. I never imagined wooden buckets could keep me occupied, or rather, transfixed for so long. The simple purpose of a bucket or barrel belies the complex symmetry of such a mundane object. Coopering is the intuitive act of assembling carved wooden staves into a conical form, bound by hoops driven...

Continue reading

Issue Five: Traditional Coopering by Marshall Scheetz

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.

Continue reading