Making a wooden butter churn.

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charleyboy

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I am hoping to make a wooden barrel type butter churn as per attached photos. Looking for any advice as how to go about making one. ie, type of wood most suitable ( this one is made of oak but is full of woodworm ), how to shape each section of the barrel ( do I shape each part with a shaped drawknife ). Is a sealant used between the component parts or does the wood naturally swell when being used to make butter. Any advice gratefully received.
 

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bobblezard

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I have no experience of even attempting coopering. I would recommend watching this though, I found it fascinating and very informative, especially if you were after having a go yourself 🤔



Hope this allows you to click through, if not search 'hands Cavan cooper' on YouTube, the whole episode is available (as are many more excellent ones). I explored these after they were pointed out in a recent discussion on this forum.
 
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recipio

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If you have a router table I would investigate the world of ' Birds Mouth Joinery'. The router profile will do all the shaping and the staves are then glued together. It's a fascinating area and you can get bits for 6,12 or 16 stave joinery. The joints lock into place and I use large band clamps to glue up. Have a look a davidhenry32 on the tube .
For the wood I would imagine a non staining wood like sycamore would be suitable.
 
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charleyboy

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If you have a router table I would investigate the world of ' Birds Mouth Joinery'. The router profile will do all the shaping and the staves are then glued together. It's a fascinating area and you can get bits for 6,12 or 16 stave joinery. The joints lock into place and I use large band clamps to glue up. Have a look a davidhenry32 on the tube .
For the wood I would imagine a non staining wood like sycamore would be suitable.
Thanks for the information.
 

charleyboy

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I have no experience of even attempting coopering. I would recommend watching this though, I found it fascinating and very informative, especially if you were after having a go yourself 🤔



Hope this allows you to click through, if not search 'hands Cavan cooper' on YouTube, the whole episode is available (as are many more excellent ones). I explored these after they were pointed out in a recent discussion on this forum.

Thanks for the information.
 

Orraloon

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Take that old one apart and most of your information is there plus templates. I take it you will reuse the metalwork? Tongue and groove planes were likely used on the staves but a router will get it done. I dont think any glue was used but taking it apart should confirm or deny that.
I remember cranking one of those as a kid. Takes a lot of work making butter. Should be a great little project.
Regards
John
 

Qwercus

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Sycamore was traditionally used for food utensils, woods high in tannin like oak might taint the butter. OK for wine and whisky though!.
 

Alasdair

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Whiskey barrels etc absorb the moisture of the contents and swell up to seal themselves. If you have an empty one and let it dry out too much it becomes loose and can leak and fall apart. I assume that butter churns are perhaps glued or internally sealed with something as they are generaly empty unless being used. Try asking at one of the local distilleries (Wolfburn is just outside Thurso) if they still have a cupar working for advice.
 

thetyreman

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you'll need quite a few hand tools if you want to do this the traditional way, it'll very likely involve making custom made tools, the barrel has to be water and air tight, that's not easy to do.
 

Setch

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I just reassembled one of these for a client who dismantled it to treat it for woodworm, then couldn't puzzle- out how it went back together.

The staves are oak, no sign of glue or any treatment to seal it. The circular ends are profiled to about 6mm thick, and slot into a groove cut into the ends of each stave.

The internal paddle and funnel-shaped opening are made from a close grained pale hardwood, probably sycamore.
 

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whereistheceilidh

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Suggest you do not use glue at all. Make dry then barrel should snug up when wet and fitted together with bands. Oak will be fine but you can soak it all once assembled ....whisky prob best but water will also work to get rid of tannin. The staves inner curve can be planed up with a concave wooden plane. You may be able to buy one ready made..... or make one yourself. The edge angle of the staves is critical and will depend on stave & barrel size ..... but you should be able to work it out....... Make sure you have a bevel.
Find a blacksmith to make the hoops. There are a couple in Orkney - Alexander in Stromness, but not sure of Mainland.
Goodluck! ..........oh & no glue... did I mention that!
 

charleyboy

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Suggest you do not use glue at all. Make dry then barrel should snug up when wet and fitted together with bands. Oak will be fine but you can soak it all once assembled ....whisky prob best but water will also work to get rid of tannin. The staves inner curve can be planed up with a concave wooden plane. You may be able to buy one ready made..... or make one yourself. The edge angle of the staves is critical and will depend on stave & barrel size ..... but you should be able to work it out....... Make sure you have a bevel.
Find a blacksmith to make the hoops. There are a couple in Orkney - Alexander in Stromness, but not sure of Mainland.
Goodluck! ..........oh & no glue... did I mention that!
Thanks
 

Droogs

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When you do come to put this together, on one of the sides of the staves (preferably the same one all the way round) take a thickish piece of wire and gently tap it with a hammer until you have a shallow dimple running along the length of the side of the stave. Then take a couple of wispy shavings with a good sharp plane. Once all assembled as the wood takes up moisture and the parts expand to seal up the barrel the dimple rises and becomes a small bead that acts as a waterproof seal.
 

charleyboy

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Suggest you do not use glue at all. Make dry then barrel should snug up when wet and fitted together with bands. Oak will be fine but you can soak it all once assembled ....whisky prob best but water will also work to get rid of tannin. The staves inner curve can be planed up with a concave wooden plane. You may be able to buy one ready made..... or make one yourself. The edge angle of the staves is critical and will depend on stave & barrel size ..... but you should be able to work it out....... Make sure you have a bevel.
Find a blacksmith to make the hoops. There are a couple in Orkney - Alexander in Stromness, but not sure of Mainland.
Goodluck! ..........oh & no glue... did I mention that!
Thanks
I just reassembled one of these for a client who dismantled it to treat it for woodworm, then couldn't puzzle- out how it went back together.

The staves are oak, no sign of glue or any treatment to seal it. The circular ends are profiled to about 6mm thick, and slot into a groove cut into the ends of each stave.

The internal paddle and funnel-shaped opening are made from a close grained pale hardwood, probably sycamore.
When you do come to put this together, on one of the sides of the staves (preferably the same one all the way round) take a thickish piece of wire and gently tap it with a hammer until you have a shallow dimple running along the length of the side of the stave. Then take a couple of wispy shavings with a good sharp plane. Once all assembled as the wood takes up moisture and the parts expand to seal up the barrel the dimple rises and becomes a small bead that acts as a waterproof seal.
Thanks
 

charleyboy

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When you do come to put this together, on one of the sides of the staves (preferably the same one all the way round) take a thickish piece of wire and gently tap it with a hammer until you have a shallow dimple running along the length of the side of the stave. Then take a couple of wispy shavings with a good sharp plane. Once all assembled as the wood takes up moisture and the parts expand to seal up the barrel the dimple rises and becomes a small bead that acts as a waterproof seal.
Thanks
 

Adam W.

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I think it's a great project and something that I wouldn't hesitate to take on.

The only thing I can suggest is jump in feet first, but look at the timber very carefully and get exactly the same cut, it's like that for a reason. You've got nothing to lose by taking it on and everything to gain with such a fantastic project. You'll come out with a decent set of skills and possibly a few new tools too.
 

whereistheceilidh

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I think it's a great project and something that I wouldn't hesitate to take on.

The only thing I can suggest is jump in feet first, but look at the timber very carefully and get exactly the same cut, it's like that for a reason. You've got nothing to lose by taking it on and everything to gain with such a fantastic project. You'll come out with a decent set of skills and possibly a few new tools too.
I think it's a great project and something that I wouldn't hesitate to take on.

Good point Adam, unfortunately quarter sawn is best ...but probably tricky to get....especially where you are. Try Cromarty Timber. They are a bit father south from you but superb at cutting out just the right wood...if they have it.
 

whereistheceilidh

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Good point Adam, unfortunately quarter sawn is best ...but probably tricky to get....especially where you are. Try Cromarty Timber. They are a bit father south from you but superb at cutting out just the right wood...if they have it.
 
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