Traditional Cooper – George Smithwick – History and how to make a wooden bucket

Traditional Cooper – George Smithwick – History and how to make a wooden bucket


okay I’m George Smithwick I just
happened to be a sixth generation Cooper pretty lucky I guess but I’ve been doing
it now for 30 odd years and I’ve had a great time doing it it’s interesting to
show people how these things are done because there’s not many of us left and
let’s hope it carries on at some point well the word Cooper is a is a Latin
word and coop means to contain so as it evolved the word Cooper become and it’s
a person who builds barrels buckets any vessel that holds either a fluid or a
sausage skin it’s just it just means to contain it within an area so that that’s
where coopering come from and there’s various sides to coopering you’ve got
white coopering which is someone who makes either buckets or butter churns or
barrels the milk or cream or butter then you’ve got a dry Cooper is a person who
just makes dry goods barrels for transporting fruit or sausage skins
olives and helos and then you’ve got a wet Cooper who makes wine barrels beer
barrels also makes buckets anything that has to holder it has to be watertight
that will fluid tight I I fortunately I covered a whole lot of them in what I’ve
been doing over the last thirty years I’ve made dry goods barrels I make
buckets I make butter churns I make wine barrels beer barrels so for me I’ve just
covered a lot I’m lucky the steps you’re making a bucket at
first or you joint the staves then you hollow them and back them right if you
look closely you’ll note there’s a gap between the hoop and the back of the
stave what I’m going to do now is called backing off the stable I’m going to
knock off each corner so it fits neatly into that hoop so to do that I sit me
backside down here and with this draw knife which is called a backing line you
will know that it is curved so it allows me to follow the shape of the the hoop
so by putting it in and it’s just like a vise I just sit there and back it off
now that if I’ve done it right should fit neatly up against that get that
little shaving yet you’ll note that that’s now fitting neatly up against the
stave so by the time I’ve done 18 which will go into making this bucket
they’ll all be nice and tight up against that hoop so I get pressure on every
joint all the way real don’t we sit ourselves down we should hear them enjoy
life you may think that I’m doing this you feel like fast but after you’ve done
quite a few hundred of these staves you know exactly how much you’ve got to take
off without even looking at it you know you’ve got it right what we’re about to
do is what’s called raising up the barrel or the bucket in this case it is
a bucket so we’re raising it up so I put a stave in I’ll put a clip on it to hold
it in place and the staves are putting you now are the handles of the bucket
the first two are always the handles get them approximately opposite each other
and now I have to fill it up so I just stand them up and then
work me we’re in now he’s put that top hoop on which is a bar hoop which is as
you can see they’re quite heavy hoops now we’ve got to level up the bottom of
the bucket by getting all of these staves to be level so to do that I just
pick a point to start using my finger as a gauge to feel the bottom of it I just
tap the staves up feel fairly good that drive this hoop down right now we’ve got
that nice and level on the bottom when it when I did this bucket
I felt the bottom of these to level them off and that’s easy on a small bucket or
a small barrel but if this were a big barrel to get it flush on the top
you’d use what’s called a topping plane now you’ll notice it’s curved so it
follows the shape of the the barrel of the bucket that you do it so it’s just
it would be just a matter of putting it on and working it around like that until
you got that bottom flat on a big barrel it’s hard to use your finger to guide
them to get them all nice and level buckets well that’s easy that on the big
barrels you just use a topping plane and it’s just a nice sharp tool follows the
shape of the barrel but our next job now is to cut a groove
inside here to take the head or the bottom of the bucket so by using this
tool what’s called a Crow’s it’s got two little scribers and a raker so by
setting that inside there and racking it around I can cut a groove in there now
it’s just a matter check and make sure I’m deep and up all the way round then I
can see a couple of spots where I’m not all right
I reckon that’ll just about do me so now we’ve got to work out the circumference
of that to find out that the radius for the head at this point I’m measuring the
circumference of this groove that I’ve put in so I can find out the radius for
the the head to go in there now if I go exactly or mark that so you can see
where I’m starting there if I go exactly six times around that circumference it
will give me the radius but having said that what I’ve done I’ve gone
approximately a quarter of an inch past that joint
so I’ve physically made the diameter a little bit bigger so to do the reason
for doing that is that if I measure one half of the circle now if I turn that head around I’ll step
the compass back half of what I went past being almost a quarter of an inch
and I will mark the other half of the circle now the reason for stepping the
back half of what I went past is it now makes the diameter right in the length
of the grain but slightly wider in the width two reasons for that timber is
softer in its width than it is in its length and but it also shrinks in its
width if this was a jointed head it would haven’t joined down there or there
or there and it have a bit of kabum Gihon which is a flag to to stop it from
leaking so being wider it’s going to put pressure on those joints and squash them
all nice and tight now what I’ve got to do is cut this so that I can shave it
down to the right size if you look at that you’ll see that I’ve
cut right down the middle of the line so I’m now making just a little bit smaller
in diameter and that is so to allow it to go neatly into the bottom of that
group and to get that right my angles when I shave would have to be perfect to
get that tight now what I’ve done now I’ve put a set of
rough centerline around that so that I can work out now how wide my groove has
to be like of just I it to that center line I won’t worry about putting two
lines and I just put a rough line around here so I know where to come back to
with the angle of me head and they’re only rough lines I’m only finger gauging them too nothing
special what I’ve got now I’ve shaves the head down so of taping it so that
that will fit into the groove now it’s it’s only eye that’s telling me that
that’s right after having done so many heads you get you get to know when
you’ve got your angles right and your your width of your groove right so now
I’ve looked at that around there and I reckon I’m pretty close to right so now
we’re going to knock that hoop off we’re going to put some linseed meal which is
just a it’s it’s a at the minute it’s a paste it starts out as a powder after
they extract the the oil out of linseed they crush up the seed and make it into
a powder I put a little bit of water with it turn it into a paste when that
dries inside that groove if the bucket ever thinks it’s going to leak this will
expand and take up and it won’t leak it will stop it from leaking so now I’ve
got to drive this hoop off so I can get the head in nothing technical about putting this in
it’s just a matter of squeeze it into the the groove we’ve got to be careful
we don’t have too much in there before I put too much in there it’s going to stop
the head from going in and seeding improperly so I go around it like this
poke it all in and then I’ll scrape something out at the end so I know I’ve
got just the right amount in there that’s a matter of poke that the head in
as I poke this head into the bottom of the bucket you will notice that the
stage will start to open up they’ll get a gap in them but if I get that down
into the groove they should all just close up nicely or very close to close
up now it’s gone a little bit far pop is in now to drive this hoop back on what
I’ll do I’ll chalk the inside of this hoop you may think that the chalk will
help it slip on easier but what it does it makes the hoop stick it’ll stick to
the timber gives it like a sandpaper edge so now just drive that hoop back up and if I’ve got it right you’ll fall
note there’ll be little bits of that linseed meal start squeezing out now to
make sure I’ve got that staves seeded down around that head
go around the outside and just tap it until they all seat down neatly now
let’s just look at it see that it appears to be sat down neatly you’ll
note there’s little bits of linseed oil losing out of the joint so that’s a real
good sign that we’ve got a nice tight tight fit right now we’re going to sit
back on the workhorse we’re going to shave the outside of this to get it to a
relatively round shape so we can fit hoops to it all right so I’m back down
on the on the donkey or the workhorse whatever right on let’s bend a I’m
slaying the hoop because this now as you can see is a fairly straight piece of
iron hoop on I’ve got to turn it into a circle but also have to have it so that
it follows the shape of the bucket to do that by hitting on one side of that
piece of metal I can physically spread it so if you’re going to be a bit of
banging and clanging but you’ll see it happened you can see it starting to curve already now if you look at the side of that you
can self put an angle onto it so that now will follow the shape of that bucket
by the time I pull that around and market and put the rivet through it
it’ll fit perfectly to that so you see that slight angle on it that’s enough to
follow the shape of the bucket I put the hoop around the bucket
approximately where I want it to to finish up and I mark it about 3/8 of an
inch past the end of that overlap when I put the rivet in I’ll bring the hoop up
to that chalk mark and that’ll give me a nice tight fit where it needs to be
you’ll note I’ve got holes in one end of the hoop already I put that across to
the overlap I set it on top of the rivet and I’ve got a hit on top of there and
punch the rivet up through it so now if you look where that outside hoop
goes around and the inside there’s a step there’s a gap so if I hit right at
the end of that I can bring the outside to meet the inside so to put it back on
the Bitcoin and just hit right at the end of it now you can see the outsides
come down to meet the inside the time I put that on there now
it’ll come down nice and flat now that hoop will not go over the top of that
one so I’ve got to knock that hoop off to get it on they just run it around to look we’ll
see that it’s relatively straight around the bucket which it is now to matter
trim off the bottom put the charm hoop on this one when I put it on I put about
half of the hoop sticking up so I know when I get it down off and get it to
pull right down tight you’ll see more linseed oil oozing out
just a bit tighter again I’ll be happy with that now I’ve just got to level off the top
of it round it over a little bit so there’s no sharp points for anyone to
hurt himself here comes a good Pat the fun part with a rope handle we’re
putting an eye splice for the handle so if I pick up roughly how big I want the
the eye of the loop to be and what I’ve done I’ve opened up the Rope into three
three cords and I start out with the middle one you can see this one two
three always start with the middle so having determined where me always going
to start I just open the Rope up like that and I feed the middle one
through that hole pull it up turn it around and open the next one up poke it
through pull it up go backwards open it up again
pull it through so now I’m back to where I was I’ve still got 1 2 3 so it’s now
back start with the middle one again open it up poke it through a real worm
poke it through go back to and poke it through and then pull it up again just
holding it tight here and pulling it upwards just gets it to sit down nice
and neatly and it’s back to the middle one again poke it through and when you
tie it off nope now once I get that up through there and I trim it off it’ll be
as neat as a pin they’re definitely rub it together to
get it nice and neat then it’s picked how long you want the handle to be some
people like to lay it over and work out where they want it to hang I’ve done
quite a few so I know roughly where it’s going to hang and that’s just cutting me
rope turn it around and start again open it up normally open it up three times
one two three and then back to me middle one again and if that right always start
with the middle one of you don’t start with the middle you’re going to be in
all sorts of Bhalla a bit short and as you do it you’ve got to be careful not
to fray the end of the rope otherwise it makes it hard to to poke it through and
it becomes very untidy this in itself was another trade on the
ships sail makers and rope makers and splices and that was another another job
again so everybody had their own little job on the ships along with Coopers and
cooks and everything else and so the Coopers would have relied on these other
tradesmen to produce the right to their buckets yep yep but today you’re
covering all those trades here yeah I don’t go to the extent of making the
right but I must admit now just pull that down into into place now just trim
off the ends so a nice sharp knife there we have it now what we have to do
is make sure it doesn’t leak or get a bit of water in a foot we’ve put a bit
in it well that’s not legal not outrigger I’ll put that up no leaks I
can’t see any not little Demi that’s it I got done you it’s made out of carry pawn and four
buckets or use carry pawn because it will not impart any flavor into the
water or milk or that that you put in that bucket if I use to mountain-ash
overnight with water in it the water would turn blue you could still drink it
but it did you’d have a flavor in it so it wouldn’t be nice so in Australia for
for white cooperage they used calorie poem because there was plenty of it and
it just did it’s just one of those Timbers it’s a food-grade timber it
doesn’t impart any flavor into anything so that’s why they used it in Europe
they use Beach they use chestnut they’re probably they’re the only ones that they
use over there for white cooperage dry goods well that don’t matter you can use
just about any timber as long as you can bend it to and dry coupe bridges barrels
are fairly straight there’s not much bilging them the bilge being the curved
in a barrel so they’re easy to been wet cooperage depending on what it was for
if it was for oil it didn’t matter on the timber if it’s for beer or wine nine
times out of ten it’s oak what’s your favorite wood I it’s it has to be oak
it’s it’s just a beautiful timber it’s French oak English oak Memel oak all of
the European Oaks are fairly soft or say softly they’re clean to work they’re
nice to work with American Oaks a bit harder got a little bit more angry grain
in it but it’s still a nice timber to work but if I had my choice that’d be
French oak or English oak here and what’s a like working with your hands
for it for a job what’s it like Draghi I don’t know anything else so your hands
your most valuable tool oh yeah yeah yes obviously your brain
tells your hands what to do but to me I feel it’s the other way around it’s me
hands that are telling me brain that that’s how it’s working but no point it
never ends I’d be lost these buckets will end up in the hands of children and
they’ll be using them to do hand washing and see what it was like to to do it in
the past do you think that’s an important thing for them to have access
to of course it is yeah yeah I mean that’s part of a problem today with with
a lot of things they don’t appreciate where things come from whether we’re
done and they’re like how they got to where they are now or now we’ve got
plastic buckets for plastic buckets flour wave wooden bucket stone wooden
bucket all still sit there and it’s 40 mile an hour when a plastic bucket will
be gone you won’t see it uh-huh how far can you go back with your family
history you said your sixth generation yeah well what’s that make it more
great-great-great great-great-grandfather yeah so here it
goes back a bit you know quite a bit about your up to your grandfather isn’t
it yeah what are you watch beyond white folks I never even met my
great-grandfather but he just happened to dot die on a date a few years apart
obviously he died on the 30th day of the of the 11th and I was born on the 30th
of the 11th quite a few years apart but as going to be something that they ever
what do you do yeah those sort of things happening in
your life we’ve got end up doing what they did Daniel yeah so when his
generation have been one of the last generations that was really working as a
full-time Cooper in the traditional sense all died my father was working as
a Cooper as a as a traditional job he he worked at maize products the federal
Cass company and then ended up at Canton ordered brewery
but prior to that he worked at the Yorkshire brewery and the Abbotsford
brewery and then they were all taken over by Carlton United he ended up his
working life or not his working life but until they closed down the Cooper shop
in 1954 I think it was it holds water what money I want of my
to live in here a mic and bucket it’s a practical thing
if someone’s to buy this bucket I know they’re gonna have this bucket in 30
years time if I look after it it’s a practical thing and what more can you
ask for a bucket better which a bit of wood you’ve created something in a lot of Cupra jizz it was common
practice to prebend your staves so they’d be prevented
not the exact Bend that they were going to end up but being pre bent it meant
that you could joint them just by holding them on a plane like this and
then just running them across to get the to get the right angle on the side of
the stave so that the next one butted up to it and you went around so that was
common practice but but prior to that preventing them they would use what’s
called a side axe and that’s just a bloody big axe and they would preach ape
there to stave so if you look at that side of the stave it’s well it’s got a
bit of a bend in it but it’s relatively straight but this side I’ve already
knocked a bit off so you can see that it’s got that curve on it so then it
would be back to to this jointer again but you would work it differently you
would only do one half and then turn it around and do the other half and then
once you got it almost right you would push it down but you would run your
stave upwards like that so it followed that curve around the outside and
basically the same thing now these bits of tools that I’ve got
laying here on the floor they all had their little jobs when when you’re
following the inside of a safe so that it follows the inside shape of the the
barrel you would use an inside shave which is like that drawn off I was using
earlier which was a backing on this is curved the other way and sharpened the
opposite way you can see the curve in it so that then you can get the by putting
that into your block and holding it you could
shave the inside of your stove so that it got that nice inside shape or you
could use what’s called a bully plane that’s curved that way and that way so
it would be done the same doing the same job as that inside shave but you use it
just a bit differently that would then do the same job got you hollow inside
now this is another type of draw knife it’s called a jigger crazy name where
they got that from another but when you’ve got your barrel all stood up to
make that nice and round on the inside you would hang that inside it and just
shave around like but like that so you put that shape into the top of your
barrel or your bucket was done with that tool there by suspending it inside and
that gives you that shape in solid there then there was also that tool which was
developed a little bit later it does the same job there’s what the jigger does
but this is just a plain it’s a whole lot easier to operate you set that on
top of your barrel and just rocked it around and it shaved it out then you put
your groove in which was done with that and that what we did on the buckets does
the same job it cuts a groove into there you can just boy running that’s sitting
on top of the barrel and that’s adjustable in height so you can lift
that up and down to to work out the gallonage of your barrel if your stave
was a little bit longer needed to come down a bit further or up a bit further
you could adjust it by just adjusting that up and down in there then
you’ve got your ads which was used to put that shape into the top of the stave
and that stun boy holding a barrel on a block and just chipping around like that
working around it and why do you need to put that when when a barrel is on its
end you’ll notice most barrels wine barrels the hoops set up a little bit
higher so that when you’re rolling a barrel it’s rolling on the on the hook
not the timber occasionally they got down a bit lower so they had it so they
were only running on a little bit of the stave not the whole lot of it so that’s
one reason it was taping in the other reason you say you can slip your head in
you put your head in when when I did the bucket I put it in from the inside you
can’t do that with a barrel you’ve got to push it in from the top so it’ll
physically slide down that that taper and you’ve got you what’s called a bung
borer it’s just a tapered knife-edged semi
half or semi auger you drill a hole a small hole India barrel to stave and
then by putting that in it and turning it around give you a tapered hole so
your bung and just tap in and stay in there and there’s all different shapes
and sizes of these fellows – that’s just four little barrels that’s called a
flagging on and a flagging iron is used if if you’ve got a slight leak in a in a
barrel you can with by tightening that hoop off and loosening a little you can
put that on there and physically pull that stave outwards so you can put a
little bit of flag in there which is kabum gear read that grows in the dams
you can just slip it in the in the joint and that just just by putting it on your
body and bending it it’ll pull that state backwards these are little homemade units their
head pullers they’re for pulling heads up into barrels and that’s all they’re
useful and no other reason you I don’t know if you want to film it or not but
you can do that on one of those these barrels say you’ve got your head poking
down in there you hook that little bit onto it and then by lifting onto that
rivet you can pull the head upwards it just pulls it up it just I made little
units and an obvious thing just a set of dividers a compass senator borders just
for working at you circumference or you your diameter of your head that’s it and
that’s just a smattering of tools while it was extremely important because
you needed to carry water how are you going to carry water in your hand now
someone had to make a bucket or prior to that they had doesn’t we them we’re
vessels in that pretty heavy and they broke easily so as they they worked
along they figured out that they could make a wooden bucket they did that if
you needed to store or make say sauerkraut that’s done in a bucket or a
small barrel say you needed a watertight vessel in that case that we use in salt
then cabbage I think they put a little bit of water and it so that that to hold
fluid they just they just had to have them yeah you made butter how did you
make butter booting and daylights out of a bit of cream where we are going to do
it inside a bucket in sort of attitude so they they just come up with systems
to make life easy for everybody and it just happened to be that a Cooper was
the bloke that got the job of doing those things soon yeah it was very
important while in Australia the Cooper’s Union was the biggest of any
Union in Australia so and I think they were disbanded in in 70 something like
they closed down the Cooper’s Union but back into the early 20s and 30s prior to
the depression and the Second World War it was huge industry they used it for
everything whether it was y mob Australia it was beyond it I say it was
a big industry yes and even still then they were using dry goods barrels for
transporting sausage skins and and olives and rice and flour so yeah it was
it was big real big I when I started work at 15
I originally wanted to be a commercial artist but being color blind that
doesn’t work real good next best thing was do coopering it dad did it me
grandfather did it they all do it but there was no Cooper shops left in
Victoria I having said that there was one but in 1966 that closed down I
started working 65 so I was advised not to do that and mum and dad weren’t keen
on me going to Adelaide to learn it so I took on cabinet making which which I did
for quite a few years and I loved it I enjoyed it and when I got to when I
think it was 13 or some my father passed away and me mother me father had asked
me mother to they obviously talked about this if I happened to go before you can
you put in the paper last in a line fifth generation Cooper and that was all
good and within of the funeral parlor they’re talking about this and I didn’t
gel with me so I said to me mother I said please don’t put that in and well
she didn’t it put me and well I put myself in a position where I didn’t have
any choice I had to do it because I’d asked for that not to be done when he
wanted it done though saleable to heck with I going to do it so I did it come
home and much to my watch discussed and threw in a good job come on and had
nothing not a cent what way it’s like we obviously had money but I didn’t have a
sale for a barrel or a bucket or any child and here we got we’ll make a few
and we stir Miranda a few Warner’s and here we ask 30 odd years later still
doing it there something worked that was with it anyway in front you’ve got
something very special eat I know I can he he it’s in you
election yeah this is can you tell us what this is and what it says this is a
book on measurements for buckets and barrels and casks and that was given to
my father by our Cooper at the yorkshire brewery and it’s got written on the
inside of the front cover given to less Smithwick by alec cook a Cooper at the
yorkshire brewery Wellington Street Collingwood about 1942 with their strict
instructions never to be showin to anybody else and here we are what are we
2015 and I’m showing this to everybody I hope that our morning
so what it what’s exactly in there that’s a personal yes it’s all
measurements that were written down by Alec Cook on the first pages on spirit
casks and it gives you the gallonage down this side whether it’s a one gallon
up to a 16 gallon on that page it gives you the length of the stave how wide the
start of how big the barrel is on the end and it gives you how big it is in
the bilge that’s being the fattest part of the barrel so one one gallon barrel
it’s ten and a half inches long the diameter at the end is six and a half
inches the bilge is seven and a half inches and it would pass if it was eight
and a half inches and the past means that that the bilge it could be either
seven and a half or eight and a half inches and to get the correct gallon
each unit if it’s seven and a half inches that means the head has to be
closer to the end than what it does if it’s eight and a half inches so you’ve
got to position your spot where you put your grooving and they had a set of
dividers which went inside the barrel to the groove so that you knew you set that
divider up and that would tell you how far down your groove nest of the
yeah but this is everything in there we’ve got port types on this page and
they go up to 46 colors so these would have been standard vision and stuff yep
so why is it so important not to show it to someone else that is the story on
that damn Devon oh well that lovely whoa it was such a secretive industry it was
because our all doing police work it was you know the more the more barrels you
made the more money you’re paid so everything become a secret you’re not
going to tell tell a bloke exactly how long he’s going to make something you’re
going to let him work that out for himself
yeah yeah well that’s it not give you an explainer the advantage of doing things
quicker than what you can do because you’ve got this book and you know where
longer that’s the bay and you know what diameter a stably so what tell him
that’s why now I do I tell everybody there or don’t even answer that yes well
yeah it’s called the full circle yeah I because because I they’ve they didn’t do
it all themselves some in the industry moved on Disney that’s why we have all
this machinery whereas at the start I didn’t have this machine without doing
it all boy in and now it’s got to the stage world wealth near we’ve got
plastic we don’t new wooden bucket well some people still do I’m glad you
do but they’ve just become non-existent we don’t need them they’re not as
they’re not a necessity anymore yeah we still need them but not like we used to
need them that’s it I mean I can remember going down the wharfs with me
father I was probably only that forward in
third Oh important and we’d buy our bourbon barrels him bring him home and
he’d tip 10 or 20 liters of boiling water inside the barrel put the bung in
shake the living daylights out of it 15 20 minutes later he had the best bourbon
you could beautiful okay that’s so better so what
let’s a barrel over down over time is it the same thing as a bucket that jointing no now if a barrel or a buckets been
made properly in the first place what is going to let it down his that it’s left
dry too long or it’s stored in a hot place if it’s stored in a cool place
it’ll stay fairly tight even even if it does leak a little bit if it was made
properly in the first place you put a bit of water in or amount of water in it
or whatever in it it will take up again might take a day won’t take off a day
but it’ll take up if it didn’t leak in the first place it’ll it’ll always
become watertight again always the only thing that can go wrong is that the
staves will shrink more than what the head will say you may at some point have
to recut a head in but it’ll still come back to it Paul you

100 thoughts on “Traditional Cooper – George Smithwick – History and how to make a wooden bucket

  1. χαιρομαι που ειδα να κανεις πραγματα .. πολυ καλος

  2. It is truly incredible to watch a master craftsman ply his trade and explain his techniques so well. Thank you George! This video lifted my spirits.

  3. That's nothing. Today's snowflake millennial could make….um….well they could make…uhh….they could color in between the lines?

  4. Thank you for sharing this knowledge with future generations. I consider myself a jack of all trades and a master of none. Basically means I work on so many things that i don't have time or skill to master any one thing, but I can do most things because of the techniques that I have learned from doing other things. When iI get home from Poland next year I want to attempt to make a bucket. That looks very interesting.

  5. George, we sure admire your great work ethics. Do you get to travel much? I would like you to visit us over here in Texas. We have a Smithwick, Texas over here outside of Austin, Texas.

    Sincerely JohnD.

  6. The bending iron. That 2-pronged tool. I had one of these a while back. I don't know where I picked it up but I used it on a variety of various tasks and found it useful for laying concrete paving slabs. Its probably still languishing at the back of my tool shed. I had no idea it was a coopering tool. You learn something every day.

  7. I cut in my heads with a knife, but when they get that small I've always been a bit lost. Was hard since i made ma dad a firkin (30ltr) as a cooper you are always learning

  8. This guy looks EXACTLY like how I imagined a cooper would look – right down to the beard, cap and check shirt! lol

  9. Back in the day i bet wis work was cheap…its nice to see this tyoe of labor and craft come full circle and now be worth a good buck ;).

  10. Terrible what happened to him…there was a fire and all his antique working tools were destroyed! Must have been gut wrenching for him. Even if insurance was good to him..which i doubt..d you cant replace that histry. 🙁

  11. "How important was the role of cooper?" Well, we would not have had significant ocean travel if the ships couldn't have carried many months supply of 'fresh' water. Goats skins etc may have done, but not long enough for an ocean voyage & earthenware was too fragile.

  12. It's always amazing to see the cumulative abilities of multiple generations, especially when it comes to skills that are so rare in the modern age. George is more then just a talented tradesman, he's a precious treasure trove of historical knowledge. Certainly a pleasure to watch the man work.

  13. Dear George, can you tell me more about the staves. When you start placing them they look like their edges are tapered towards the centre of the bucket. Lengthways, the staves looked straight. This did not make sense as the bucket has a taper to it. That means that the staves would be narrower at the bottom of the bucket.

    So from what I guess should be: 1) the staves are tapered, being wider at the top of the bucket and 2) the staves edges are chamfered inwards towards the centre of the bucket. I would appreciate confirmation and details. Thanks.

  14. So much respect and dignity. I feel very privileged to have been able to see this and to take a small part of this wonderful tradition to heart. Thank you George Smithwick for showing us your trade!

  15. Cool man. Im a tradesman of 14 years and i appreciate how they used to put up ceilings and how its done now but a cooper is a truly historical trade before plaster was even a thing but i like to think my trade goes back far enough and all that matters to me and the customers i do work for is the pride in my work and its visible in everything i do. Im a ceiling fixer and if you need ceilings or walls fixed in perth western Australia call wa ceiling fixers. We can travel but a local with a good reputation is your best move. Mostly interior work but i also do outside eve sheeting. Iv done 110 year old houses in midland and replaced ceilings that look like they were newly remade and still look 100 years old. Even fancy cornices that dont exist any more we can remold the cornice if a piece can be taken down intact. Ceilings cornice and ceiling roses were made in the same stile as thatch and mud hundreds of years ago but with plaster instead of mud. Its called a composite material were 2 weak materials together create a single stronger material and reinforced concrete is a composite material. These days we use fiberglass strands called rovings and formulated plaster to mold any shaped you want. My company takes down the piece intact and we source those jobs to experts and we do the installation. Its not my company my boss is the ceo and has been for 50 years. We do Repairs replacements water damage new renovations historical if your strapped for money a quick fix is the go to and repairs prior to selling. Depending on your budget there are a large range of choices from the quick fix to laser leveled ceilings in mansions. The only work we don't aim for is new housing and commercial. They are slapped together and use the cheapest work force available. If you have a new house being built source us and you will get a 10 year warranty and 20 year warranty on materials. It may cost more but i can bet you will get 20-40 years out of a good ceiling done right and a further 10-20 years with a quick fix before replacement is necessary. We are fighting gravity and water ingress and no one beats gravity forever.

  16. This was a youtube suggestion. Glad i watched it. I like having chances to see other craftmens technique to accomplishing a job and the tools and different ways to use them. I knew there was a odd reason i could follow his thought process so well. It must be because hes also a cabinet maker.

  17. This is an amazing video. It's something I've wondered about for a long time.. I'm a full time blacksmith, but seeing other trades is fantastic.

  18. Awesome craftsman and very knowledgeable to his trade. Thanks for sharing with the world so his trade secrets don’t die when he “ kicks the bucket “.

  19. May Father Yahweh bless and keep ya sir…. in my mind, i came by your place and we carved wood together… i love ya, my good man….keep makin' chips!

  20. Thank you Mr. Smithwick. It is sad how many traditional skills are vanishing in the modern age, and it's wonderful to see a true craftsman at work. In an age where it seems everything is disposable, I love seeing something made to truly last.

  21. Are the bits of wood rectangular? If so how can they all be flush together but the top end have a greater circumference than the bottom? I didn't see him cut the wood to achieve this.

  22. And this is the reason I’m grateful for the internet, keeping these types of skills alive is so important, thanks for sharing, all the best Alex from the uk

  23. If God forbid electricity ever vanishes this world is screwed. We just watched hundreds of years of technology and generational skill and craftsmanship made by hand. People today don't understand how valuable a bucket or barrel was in the days before plastics. I hope he sends his buckets to a couple museums so future generations can see a functioning work of art .. a true masterpiece. Thank you, sir, for sharing and caring. God bless you.

  24. This is a craft like blacksmith which is disappearing which i could watch all day and would love to do it and take pride in it. Just to keep it alive. Well done sir.

  25. 274 people with soft hands who've been counting money all their lives gave this a thumbs down. These crafts should to be preserved forever.

  26. what a shame that we are losing old skills these days. thank god for videos like this to show use the old school arts.

  27. Now that's a craftsman. .this man forgot more than I'll ever know about cooperage….no book on a shelf can teach like these kind of men….wow…!

  28. Hah, let's get a real interviewer talking to this guy, not someone who's going to ask in earnest "What do you like about buckets?"

  29. Coopering and wood working and carpentry is at some point forgotten and that is such a shame. I love wood working and I hope to learn much more every day. Thank you Mr Smithwick for sharing your master skill of being a Cooper.

  30. Hello. you said you had 30 years as a cooper. What did you do before your 40th birthday? I got drafted at12 years old as slave labor to my painter uncle.

  31. I really enjoyed seeing this. I would love to learn how to do things like this. It's too bad people don't see the value in this anymore. I wold really love having one of these or even better having that feeling knowing that I made it myself.

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