Making wooden bucket

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Forum topic by Bill Davis posted 05-05-2008 03:05 AM 48265 views 4 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bill Davis

226 posts in 4400 days

05-05-2008 03:05 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tapered bucket staves compound angles question joining

I have a need to make a tapered wooden bucket and am wondering if anyone within earshot has a straightforward way to determine the compound angles for the staves. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

18 replies so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4465 days

#1 posted 05-05-2008 06:42 AM

The angle should be 360 divided by the number of staves divided by 2.

20 staves should then be 9 degrees.

The taper of the staves depends on the taper of your bucket.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 4292 days

#2 posted 05-05-2008 06:51 AM

I think the guys who make buckets do it more by eye than calulator. I saw Roy Underhill do it once. He just used froe, a spokeshave and some iron rings. He had some kind of tool fo making a slot for the bottom to fit into. I found this website. I’ll bet there are more.

Update: The tool for the slot is called a Croze.

-- Scott - Chico California

View swied's profile


74 posts in 4238 days

#3 posted 05-05-2008 07:13 AM

You don’t need to worry about calculating angles if you use a router with a bead and cove bit.

The 3/8 radius bit is probably the one you would need for a bucket. Then again… at $82.99 you would have to make a lot of buckets to make it worth while.

-- Scott, San Diego

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4351 days

#4 posted 05-05-2008 05:02 PM

GaryK’s method for calculating the angles for bucket staves will work out close enough as long as there isn’t too much slope on the sides of the bucket. However, as the slope of the bucket sides approaches a bowl shape, the angle of the bevel on the sides of the staves will decrease, reaching a zero angle when the bucket becomes a platter!

I proved this first hand when I made my lamp shades – which are like four-sided buckets.
Click for details
(my first use of a project card! yay!)

I thought and thought about how to calculate the joints and finally decided the mating angles must be 45 degrees – as GaryK’s formula indicates. Fortunately I dry-fit the sides, but my lamp shades looked like an M.C. Escher drawing! From there I “snuck up” on the angles until they fit right.

I think you could calculate the angle of the bevel using GaryK’s formula, and call that measure angle “b”. Divide “b” by 90 to get the bevel deviation “d”. For every degree of slope “s” (the angle that your staves are off of vertical), you would subtract that much “d”. a=b-(d*s). For 20 staves D=1/10, so for every degree of slope you would deduct 1/10 degree from the bevel.

I think the real trick will be figuring the taper for each stave to create the desired slope. I’m not entirely sure how to figure that. This is where I turn to AutoCAD!

-- -- --

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4221 days

#5 posted 05-05-2008 05:36 PM

This is why the old timers used a draw knife and did it by eye.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4351 days

#6 posted 05-05-2008 05:41 PM

No kidding Tim! I was just thinking about a coopered barrel. The staves have curved edges. Can you imagine the calculations that would go into that?

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View ronstar's profile


519 posts in 4187 days

#7 posted 05-05-2008 07:29 PM

The chord of a segment of a curve =2 times radius times sin (central angle /2)
Say the bucket top is 16” inside diameter with 12 staves
A circle is 360 degrees, so the central angle for each stave is 30 degrees (360/20)
The radius is 8” or half the 16” inside diameter.
So, the inside measurement of each stave top is 2 times 8 times sin (30/2) = 4.14”
Say the bucket bottom is 12” inside diameter. The central angle is still 30 degrees.
The inside measurement of each stave bottom is 2 times 6 times sin (30/2) = 3.11”

The stave angle is half the central angle or 15 degrees for 12 staves.
Hope this helps.

-- Ron, Northern Illinois

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 4400 days

#8 posted 05-05-2008 11:40 PM

Think I’m going to get out my pencil and ‘Draw me a Knife’. No fooling guys thanks a lot. This is all very helpful. Especially ‘ronstar’ that’s exactly what I was looking for.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4351 days

#9 posted 05-06-2008 05:13 AM

Ron – of course! I’m over here trying to figure out the angle of the taper, but all you need is the width at each end of the stave.

-- -- --

View fredf's profile


495 posts in 4186 days

#10 posted 05-08-2008 05:14 AM

Peter O has a good point as you increase the angle of the sides, the miter angle required increases

to calculate compound miters check out

-- Fred, Springfield, Ma

View cebfish's profile


163 posts in 3165 days

#11 posted 01-16-2011 01:44 AM

there is good way i learned from a book foxfire 3 take two 1x lay side by side connect on end with a peice of leather from that end mark the dia. you want spread open that will give you the angle no math needed

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4124 days

#12 posted 01-16-2011 03:33 AM

I used to build conga drums. That’s how I got into woodworking.

Early on I used trial and error to find the angles. I made blocks
for reference for 12, 16, 20 and 24 sided cylinders. When you
make the cylinder tapered (conical) it affects the geometry of the
side joints a little. Practical trigonometry.

Later I had a machinest make me a dial indicator mount which allowed
me to repeat angles very precisely using trig. This was before the
magnetic doo-dad came out which sticks to the side of your blade,
zeros to 90 degrees, and then uses a level inside to calculate the
blade angle.

Anyway, setting the angle precisely is juts half the battle. Knowing the
correct angle in the first place is the other. If your bucket is almost
a straight cylinder you can ignore (or fudge) the change introduced
by the conical form.

Later I got an angle gauge from Veritas which made set-ups for small,
12-sided forms easier.

View canadianchips's profile


2627 posts in 3474 days

#13 posted 01-16-2011 03:46 AM
This guy has a video on building buckets. Its well worth watching.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2737 posts in 3398 days

#14 posted 01-16-2011 06:09 AM

I have made wooden buckets and wooden vases and using a taper jig and keeping the flare under 5º will allow you to ignore any adjustment on the angle to make the 360º bucket. I usualy use 18º on each cut to make 10 staves …....

-- No PHD just a DD214

View Colin 's profile


93 posts in 3287 days

#15 posted 01-16-2011 07:37 AM

Never made a bucket but you may want to keep a sharp ax and straw around for repairs.


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