Author Topic: Back to Sutter's Fort!  (Read 2976 times)

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Offline Branson

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Back to Sutter's Fort!
« on: December 08, 2013, 09:33:14 AM »
It's official.  After about 15 years' absence, I'm back at Sutter's Fort, and signed back on as one of the masters of the carpenter shop.   There's a bit of a new twist.  Sutter's Fort isn't exactly doing living history these days.  The docent program is now doing something they call Hands On History, so I've got a bit of adjustment to do, especially since there's no requirement for the 1846 period.

At the moment, the fellow who interprets the cooper's shop is out for medical reasons, and the ranger in charge is interested in keeping the cooper's shop open and functioning.  And there is some cooperage around the fort he wants repaired.  I checked out the contents of the cooper den yesterday, and there's a lot to be done.  Unusable tools to go somewhere else, non-cooper tools to go to more appropriate shops, a lot of really dull tools to be sharpened and tuned up.  Some tools that ought to be there -- like a mallet and a small hammer to adjust the plane-family tools, and a cooper's side ax -- are nowhere to be seen.   I have some work ahead of me.

Part of Hands On History is developing hands-on stuff for visitors, especially for children it seems.  Don't think putting sharp cooper's tools in the little (or not so little) hands is a good idea, so I'll be trying to find things to do that can be somehow connected with coopering.  Any ideas would be welcome for this.

Feels like coming back home!


Offline Papaw

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2013, 10:06:24 AM »
Congratulations!

I assume this is something you have been waiting to happen for a while.
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Offline rusty

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2013, 12:29:36 PM »
Congrats , It's always fun to have a new project :)

The little ones would probably be just as happy doing something toolless, like assembling a little barrel ....

Figuring out how to hold onto a bottom and 8 slats at the same time will keep them busy for half an hour ;P

Be glad you don't work in a glass shop, ever try to figure out something safe to do with glass?
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Offline john k

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2013, 01:40:11 PM »
A half hour?   Took me near two hours!    I like the concept of hands on, but giving kids with a short attention span something to do that took months to teach an apprentice, huh?  Can you make buckets too?
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Offline Branson

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2013, 02:38:23 PM »
A half hour?   Took me near two hours!    I like the concept of hands on, but giving kids with a short attention span something to do that took months to teach an apprentice, huh?  Can you make buckets too?

That's why one tradition puts a gunny sack full of shavings in the middle when the cooper is trying to get all the staves in order. <grin>  That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Offline john k

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2013, 10:38:50 PM »
I've seen it done by making a "log" of old coats, then fixing the staves around that, tie it down with rope then introduce the hoops.
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Offline Branson

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2013, 06:06:30 AM »
I've been watching a lot of videos on coopering the last couple of days.  Several show the cooper clamping the first stave in place with some kind of quick clamp.  Can't get enough definition in the videos to see exactly how the clamps function.  Some might be a chunk of wood with a tapered slot to wedge the stave in place.   I think I might try this out.

Offline johnsironsanctuary

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2013, 03:17:48 PM »
Take a look in Sellens Dictionary of American Tools on page 46. There is a sketch of a barrel set up form. If you don't have a copy, I can scan and post it.
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Offline scottg

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2013, 10:26:18 PM »
Hooray! I am so jealous
 
If you set up a shave horse and let the little ones try a spokeshave they will be thrilled!
A spokeshave is the first tool I hand any newbie in my shop.
 A honkin big coopers shave will be just that much more impressive.

 My grand daughter used to squeal out loud when the shavings came pouring out. The trick is to lean in behind them and place your hands very gently on top of theirs. Just enough to guide them. The smart ones will get it right away and the dumb ones never will anyhow.   

 My favorite is kind of a mini-cooper shave. Only a 5" blade :)
 


 I guess keep the axes and adze high on a rack at all times. Maybe make a snap cover for over the jointer too. There will be a strong temptation for little ones to want to run a finger down the blade. In fact you better set up a rope in front of the edge tools rack altogether. Nothing more dangerous to a newbie, than a good drawknife.

  Shavings and pegs and plug buttons strewn around for the little ones to touch will get their attention, even if not specifically cooper related.  You will lose a lot of them, but then bags of 100 are not expensive.

   I would take some firewood and split it into kindling as well. Coopers didn't work in the cold --all-- the time, and had to start a fire like anyone else.  Oh yeah, they had to char barrels too, so there is another excuse to have a pile of kindling handy. 
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Offline Branson

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2013, 10:43:08 AM »
Take a look in Sellens Dictionary of American Tools on page 46. There is a sketch of a barrel set up form. If you don't have a copy, I can scan and post it.

I don't have a copy of Sellens.  Please send.

Offline johnsironsanctuary

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2013, 03:34:18 PM »
Here is the scan.

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Offline Branson

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2013, 08:37:25 AM »
Here is the scan.

Thank you John!  Is there a date for this devise?

Offline Branson

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2013, 08:42:07 AM »
Several show the cooper clamping the first stave in place with some kind of quick clamp.  Can't get enough definition in the videos to see exactly how the clamps function.  Some might be a chunk of wood with a tapered slot to wedge the stave in place.

Found several clear, close photos of this in the past couple of days.  It is, in fact, a simple chunk of wood with a slot cut into it to slip over the band.  It's the first thing done, followed by putting in the first stave.  It's removed when putting in the last stave.

Offline johnsironsanctuary

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Re: Back to Sutter's Fort!
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2013, 02:11:13 PM »
Sorry Mike, no date in the book. I did google barrel making and watched lots of neat videos, the coolest were the Turkish cooper and the South American cooper. I could not understand one word in either, but the video said it all. Sorry, I did not bookmark them.  Neither of those used any fixturing to assemble a barrel.
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