Making a large wood tankard.
Posted on August 22, 2012
Each time I make something in my shop I try to improve on a technique that I am learning, and often try to add a new skill along the way. This time I decided to try my hand at making a wooden tankard. The tankard I made was based on an 1808 example that was found in Denmark.
Right off the bat I could see that adding the handle was going to be a challenge. In most examples I have seen the handle is an integral part of the body, with a stave and handle being made in one piece. If you are planning on using metal bands this creates a problem as there is not simple way to get the band installed because of the closed loop of the handle. In this image of the original tankard you can see that the handle is made in two sections which would make the banding much easier.I tried to get in touch with the person who originally posted this image but have not heard back yet. It would be great to find out more about the original. You can also see that the maker opted for wood banding. But I have not tackled that challenge yet.
I am skipping past splitting and roughing in the staves to show what happens if you read your angle gauge wrong. When I use this gauge I have to remember that the 10 reading equates to a 10″ radius, not a 10″ diameter, which is what I wanted. I think I will make a new gauge that is layout in diameter numbering so that I don’t make this mistake as often.
After re-jointing all of my staves to the proper angle I was ready to raised the vessel. After raising the sides and making some fine adjustments to the angles I made it to this point. You might notice the adjustable pipe clamps. I end up using these when I don’t yet have a proper band the right size handy. Not something you would do a living history event, but works well when no one is looking. Once all the joints looked good it was time to trim the top and bottoms to get the body of the tankard ready to croze.There was a good bit of scorp and spokeshave work to be done to get the body nice and round and ready for the croze and bottom. A good cooper would be much closer to a finished shape at this point, but once again it is apparent that I am not a good cooper yet. It is important that the inside of the bottom be very close to round or the bottom will not fit correctly.
The next photo is of my crozing tool that I made at Tiller’s International, and the croze (bottom groove) that was made with the tool.
Up to this point this project moved along reasonably well. Making the handle and lid was, well, interesting. Maybe in a later post I will do another and show more details. The high point was that I got to use my newly acquired Stanley 45 to make the groove for the locking mechanism to ride in. The 45 takes some tinkering to get set up and ready, but it sure is fun to use.
From here there was much filing and sanding to get the lid and handle finished. Numerous “opportunities for future improvements” were found during this project. I ended up with a functional lid, but is not graceful by any means.
But in the end I ended up with a tankard that is fully functional and will be useful at our living history events this fall. There will definitely be a Tankard 2.0 to build on the results of this project. But, as Jethro Bodine is famous for saying, “All great artists must suffer”. Except for him that meant skipping breakfast.