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Blog entry by stefang posted 04-08-2011 06:23 PM 3914 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Today I finished my bucket project. The best part of the project for me has been doing the work, learning some new skills and last but not least enjoying the dialog with the other participants and everyone else who has commented on our progress from the start. I’m also pleased (and relieved) that I made it to the finish line.

We have been working on this project, or class as Debbbie has defined it, for about 3 months. None of us has to my knowledge used an inordinate amount of time on the work, but life has a way of keeping one busy with a lot more than just woodworking!

Just to recap the project, our end goal was to make an ancient bucket. The idea was to make it like they did in the past without metal fasteners or glue. Just a bunch of wooden stave’s all planed by hand and grooved for the bottom. The bucket to be held together with willow branch bindings around it and kept in tension with a (very) special joining method, again with no fasterners.

How I experienced the project. Most of the work was fairly straightforward and the tools worked extremely well. The biggest challenge for me was the willow bindings. I ruined quite a few willow branches, but I stuck with it until I got it right, and now I’m very happy with the result. The bindings are what attracted me to this project to begin with. The idea that such a simple accessible thing can be so useful still amazes me. In the old days, gathering these willow branches and selling them to container makers became a cottage industry that anyone with some extra time could do.

The first thing we had to do was to make the special tools needed to make the bucket with. These tools included a (1) a round bottomed hand plane to round the inside of the staves with, (2) a special long handled knife to cut the the groove in the inside bottom of each stave where the bottom edge would fit into, and lastly (3) a binding lever to help with stretching the willow bands over the outside of the bucket. All three of the finished tools together with the bucket are pictured in the photo below.

Here are some photos with a close-up of the finished bucket including the handle pins and attachment bolts which are made out of birch and hand carved.

The water test Although this bucket was intended to be used only for decoration, I was interested in finding out if the bucket would leak. So here are some photos of the test with a caption for each one.

Filling with water.

Good news, only leaking out from the bottom.
Refilled the bucket after some initial swelling (10 min.) and moved to a new location for a timed test.

After 30 minutes still about 1-1/2” of water left. I’m pretty happy with the result. The book I have on the subject indicates that these were never 100% water tight. This bucket could be useful for carrying water.

Now a series of photos showing the outsides just to show that there was no leakage whatsoever between the stave’s on the outside.

And finally the last photo after the transfer of ownership to my wife.

What next? Thanks to Mads slowing down to allow me to finish first, the other participants are still working on their buckets. I am hoping to see them blog their progress and completion too. It would also be nice if we could gather photos of all the participants in one blog if possible. So the class is not over until everyone is done. Then I will write a final blog at that time.

For anyone interested in how the tools and bucket were made, you can refer to all the blogs in this series. A list of these can be found on my home page under ‘Blogs’. I will try to also summarize the other participants blogs on the project in my final blog so you can also see how the others approached the project. Everyone is doing this work a little differently, so it should be interesting to see.

Meanwhile thanks for following with and I’m glad to answer any questions you might have.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

15 comments so far

View Broglea's profile


687 posts in 3574 days

#1 posted 04-08-2011 08:37 PM

Thanks Mike. I probably won’t have the time to make my own bucket, but it has been very interesting following along. Your bucket looks great!

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 4397 days

#2 posted 04-08-2011 08:46 PM

Beautiful job, Mike! and it held water, how much more could you ask for? Even the transformation after the change of ownership is a thing of beauty.

Proof once again that it’s difficult to improve on a great idea and design.

With just a couple of small pieces of sharp steel and some renewable resources, we can create an abundance of useful objects using only the things found around us already.

Watch this space, as the knowledge and skill which you have resurrected here in pictures and words in a 21st century format will become an important resource.

Thanks for all the time taken to teach us. Now, if I can only be 1/2 as good as my master…

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

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3818 days

#3 posted 04-08-2011 11:10 PM

Thanks Broglea If not now, maybe sometime in the future. The blog will be in the files here on LJ.

Well Steve, I certainly don’t purport to be a master at anything, much less bucket making. I did have an advantage since I had the book for this type of work. The book is very well written, but like so many books, it leaves out many critical details. That means you just have to have perseverance in order to finally understand and be able to do the work. I’ve tried to supply the right info as we progressed, so I hope I haven’t left anything out.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14181 posts in 4466 days

#4 posted 04-08-2011 11:29 PM

well done … I have enjoyed following this project. I used a old wooden farm bucket back in the fifties … bet not many still in use today.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Dave's profile


11432 posts in 3323 days

#5 posted 04-09-2011 01:15 AM

Congrats on the lessons and methods taught here. It is now on the internet for all to see. Mike I am glad to see the it is functional. You have taught tool making, coopering, and joinery plus comradeship amongst fellow woodworkers. I unofficially dupe you a COOPER. Congrats again, I have so enjoyed watching you on your journey.
thank you, Dave;)

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

View littlecope's profile


3072 posts in 3986 days

#6 posted 04-09-2011 02:42 AM

Very Enjoyable Series Mike!!
The Bucket came out Excellent!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Houtje's profile


311 posts in 3455 days

#7 posted 04-09-2011 05:30 AM

That’s a pretty one.
Thanks for the blogs,I realy injoyed it.

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4203 days

#8 posted 04-09-2011 06:13 AM

And it HOLDS WATER! That’s great.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3599 days

#9 posted 04-09-2011 08:20 AM

congrat´s Mike :-)
it is realy a very fine bucket and I like the way you have used attachment bolts and a pin on the handle
thank´s for teaching us Mike it has been a pleasure to follow this on the sideline

take care

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4644 days

#10 posted 04-09-2011 11:54 AM


let me know when everyone has finished (in case I miss it)—everyone will get a special LumberJocks’ Class certificate :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1588 posts in 4048 days

#11 posted 04-09-2011 01:05 PM

Thanks for doing this blog, it has been fun following along and interesting to learn how these are made and your bucket turned out great too!

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3818 days

#12 posted 04-09-2011 01:52 PM

Thanks everyone for the positive comments. As you have probably deduced, this project was more about the fun and interaction than the final product. For me it was a leap of faith. After getting the idea to invite others to make buckets as a group I began to worry that I might not be able to teach others when I didn’t really know how to make one myself. But I had a good book on the subject by Johan Hopstad, a Norwegian woodworker/author and I thought we could stumble our way to success. Of course the other participants have been at a disadvantage having only myself as their main source of info. But now I am really looking forward to sharing the others experience as they progress/finish.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mafe's profile


12096 posts in 3573 days

#13 posted 04-09-2011 07:16 PM

Hi my so dear Mike,
Yes you got me at the end!
And what a beautiful job you have done, it has really become bucket you should be proud of.
The water test made me bite my nails, and the result made me nervous for mine… YOU DID IT!
I am in Paris now, but put my branches for the bindings in water before I left, so I hope that when I return I can get to finish mine also, and become a member of your bucket club.
I have gotten so much more than a bucket out of this class, you have been a teacher in so many important aspects of life to me on this time we shared on the project.
It is not the last you hear from me!
Best thoughts my dear Mike,

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

View stefang's profile


16717 posts in 3818 days

#14 posted 04-09-2011 09:01 PM

Thanks Mads. I was only jesting about being first. You were ahead of me almost from the beginning and I still like your bucket the best. It has a lot of charm. I’m just glad I finally got those doggone bindings on mine.

Today I got some nice materials for turning. It was some selected pieces from a maple tree my son cut down at his place. These turnings will be done with the wood still wet. The wood grain is pretty plain, mainly white, but I might try a little carving to make them look more interesting. I just hope my wife gives me enough time off to do them!

Today we have been getting rid of the the moss and dead grass from our lawn. Next I will be cutting down my Norwegian palm tree (really la large juniper). It got ruined by the winter weather last year. I’m hoping I can use some of that wood too. They say it turns well, but I’ve never had a piece big enough to try it yet. Please let me know if you have any ideas for it. I will have two tree trunks which are about 12” in diameter including the bark and about 1-1/2 meters long.

Have a nice time while in Paris. I am wondering what kind of old tool you will find while there. Give my regards to Caroline and have a safe journey.

Best wishes,


-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View mafe's profile


12096 posts in 3573 days

#15 posted 04-24-2011 09:52 PM

I’m fighting!

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

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