• Advertise with us
Blog entry by stefang posted 02-03-2011 04:35 PM 4884 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I don’t know about you, but I hate blogs without pictures, but I have to do this one quickly so others won’t make a similar mistake to myself.

My personal goal with this project is to do it as much as possible like the old days. That means not using cooper math to calculate the width of the stave’s. The book I am following just gives a radii for the bucket bottom, and a width to use for the stave’s. It does not explain how that stave width was derived. I somehow got sucked into not using the cooper calculation, but without any other way to determine the width of the stave’s.

I am very unhappy about not maintaining the planned diameter drawn on the bucket bottom. That would ruin the whole project for me and perhaps others. Last night I tried to think of how ancient man would be able to physically calculate the stave width needed. I have come up with a very simple solution that could very well have been used by early bucket makers.

The other unsatisfying aspect has been determining the edge angle for the stave’s. Of course we know that 12 stave’s requires two 15 degree edges on each stave, but early man again could not calculate the required angles. Once again, the explanation in the book is VERY fuzzy. However I also have come up with a plausible solution to how that might have been done.

Hardly. Coming up with the solutions required no above average intelligence or creative abilities. It’s just that we don’t need these solutions today, so we never think about them.

I’m not being coy, but I’m going to tell you in this evening’s blog (this evening in Norway). I want to show you with photos how to do it. Meanwhile, if you are tired of beating around the bush, here is the cooper math to calculate the width of your stave’s.

1. Stave width (Outside bucket diameter X pi) divided by the no. of stave’s = Stave width

pi = 3,14159265

2. Edge angle of stave’s ( 360 degrees divided by the no. of stave’s) divided by 2 = edge angle for each side of stave.

I would urge you to use my old method and just use the calculation to check it’ accuracy. My reason is, that with the ‘old method’ you will not be exact enough for you stave’s to all be exactly the same width. That means you will be faced with the ancient problem of the much feared ‘Weeping Stave’ to enrich your journey back in time.

I went out and bought some new pine today. I am going to do this thing over again the right way. This time I bought 3/8” thick materials which were closest to the 3/4” that I specified to everyone earlier. This thickness should work well and give me more comfort than the 3/8” which I so stupidly resawed to the first time. That said, many of the ancient buckets were made as thin as 1/4” thick. I’m not ready for that challenge yet!

Those of you who complete this project will receive a wonderful bonus. It is not cash or material, so don’t go out and buy that new car yet or add a new wing to your house. You will be pleased with it though. I am saving this for a pleasant surprise. It will come in the form of information. We are after all children of the information age, so this seems an appropriate bonus to me.

Thanks for reading this non illustrated version of the bucket blog.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

9 comments so far

View patron's profile


13650 posts in 3825 days

#1 posted 02-03-2011 05:06 PM

never use much math myself

geometry tells me
that a point with 6 equally intersecting lines
as a star pattern

(will have the 30deg. angle between them
hence 1/2 of that is the 15 deg. angle of the stave)

this is just for maths sake

the angle can be picked of the drawing
regardless of the number of sides

drawing a circle from the center point anywhere
will give the stave width at that point
the angle never changing
regardless if it is 3” or 5’ or 10miles

i do agree that making the staves first
is the way to go
then the diameter of the bottom
can be picked from that

this is just me
i don’t remember that far back in my youth
but i may have been there then

only my lobotomist will know for sure

thank you mike
well done !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View a1Jim's profile


117713 posts in 4061 days

#2 posted 02-03-2011 07:47 PM

Mike a super blog , I guess I’ll have to wait for the “but wait there’s more” part of the blog. I like your style, always have. Well done My friend.

Thank you too. professor Patron. :)

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3818 days

#3 posted 02-03-2011 08:00 PM

Hi Jim. Do you know what David was taking about? Seriously though, I always think of geometry as a form of math even if it isn’t.

Thanks for those nice and somewhat complicated comments guys. Now I’m off to do the next blog showing how I reinvented the wheel without brains (this is no mean feat, believe me!).

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View a1Jim's profile


117713 posts in 4061 days

#4 posted 02-03-2011 08:05 PM

I don’t have a clue Mike ,but it’s clear David does just look at the cool stuff he makes.

View patron's profile


13650 posts in 3825 days

#5 posted 02-03-2011 08:05 PM

so eating
is a form
of agriculture

even if it isn’t ?

look forward to the new wheel

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View mafe's profile


12096 posts in 3573 days

#6 posted 02-03-2011 08:30 PM

Hi Mike,
You do make me laugh thank you.
Who is Patron?
Look forward to hear the news tonight.
I have also decided that you will recieve a present when the project is over, but I will need a little time for this, so you have to be patient, so you will also have a ‘price’ if you suceed… (Hope you do).
Next week I will not be able to work on the challange, so I might be a little delayed for my part (sorry).
Best thoughts my dear Mike,

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

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18660 posts in 4160 days

#7 posted 02-03-2011 08:39 PM

You are very insightful, Mike. I even hate books without lots of big pictures and I never judge one by the cover, I look for the pictures before making any judgment about it ;-))

My guess is the first man to make the first bucket probably made his staves, arranged them around the bucket and used the weeping stave to finish it off. The second bucket probably had a different number of staves. Bucket making probably proceeded as a trial and error process through the first few million before any math or consistency emerged.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4398 days

#8 posted 02-03-2011 09:39 PM

well, since I have a degree in mathematics, this is a blog I can really understand!

Patron and Mike are both right.

Mike – your method is likely the ‘modern’ method as it is strictly analytical and assumes staves can be cut to exact dimensions and angles planed to precision.

Patron’s way is a bit more intuitive and relies on forming a full scale drawing and taking measurements from the drawing.

Keep in mind that the math we are talking about here is Euclidean geometry which has been around for a long time already and euclidean geometry works as long as we are standing on earth :)

My own theory would be something in between. Assuming that staves were cut by riving logs, it is quite likely that stave widths were variable but vy using a full scale drawing of the outside diameter of the desired bucket, the angles can be read off the drawing for each individual piece.

In timber framing, it is typical to draw the plan on the ground using a series of circles and straight lines and to then take measurements from the full scale drawing. This way, no math is required for angles and lengths of pieces needed to construct the frame or laying out the plan in the first place.

Just my opinion and thoughts.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View Dave's profile


11432 posts in 3324 days

#9 posted 02-04-2011 05:13 AM

I can do gozintas… you know 2 gozinta 4,,, 2 times…
I know this because i have 30 years of education.
I went through the tenth grade 3 times. ;)

Great blog Mike

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

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics