What is a Cooper?
A cooper is a person trained to make wooden casks, barrels, vats, buckets, tubs, troughs and other staved containers, from timber that was usually heated or steamed to make it pliable.
A cooper makes wooden containers out of tapered and beveled staves held together by hoops driven down tight over the hollow cone they form. The hoops then hold the staves together in a strong circular arch. Then a croze (A groove at the ends of the staves) is cut a cooper’s tool, and a head(bottom) is made to fit in the groove perfectly.
Was a homestead craft in the Ozarks in the 1820’s - 1930’s. Making buckets,tubs and churns out of cedar trees (for the staves and heads) and white oak trees (for the hoops). After about 1870 there was a cvah market for the water buckets and butter churns.
Coopering was traditionally divided into three branches:
- Wet Cooper Had to get the barrels perfect, for wine, whiskey, and other expensive liquids.
- Dry Cooper had to make a lot of barrels cheap for apples, nails of other solid items that wouldn’t leak out.
- White Cooper made straight-stave buckets, tubs and churns for milk or dairy industry.
The coopered baskets here are made using similar techniques.