Tuesday, 19 April 2016


 Coopering & Barrels






I'd returned from an amazing walk through the woods in Brittany where were staying in a beautiful village for a 2 week holiday and I had to move some gravel as the car kept getting stuck in thick mud in the driveway.  The wheel barrow had a puncture, so I used the emergency  car tyre repair kit to sort it - you know the one,  it should take 5 minutes and ends up taking all morning!

Anyway later, on the way to top up with local Breton ales & fine wines and other delicious comestibles, I noticed a new modern DIY superstore and decided to replace the repair kit.  I was completely sidetracked by the sight of these beautifully made barrels.  It seems that, unlike in England, there is a thriving coopering trade and this big chain store sourced barrels from local craftsmen all over France to supply the local home wine makers, those that grow a few of their own

The Cooper also offers a full repair service and often replace worn hoops and whatever else needs doing.  So on my next visit to La Belle France I'm going to make it a priority to organise a visit to the workshop - very exciting and I'm looking forward to it already.




Have been having  plenty of chats lately about the tools used for coopering and clogging, this brought to mind my Stock Knife which I used to make tent pegs for a while - I decided that I prefer turning and I'm not really a tent peg maker however much the demand is for demonstrating the skill.  I decided to sell it and used FB as my sales place.  Terrible mistake - I was inundated with ridiculous messages from the whole world and his wife and couldn't go through them all to sort the wood from the trees!

So I ended up doing nothing about it and now 'she who must be obeyed' (if I expect to have home made cakes/bread/biscuits & cordon bleu meals) has mentioned it's been sitting on the dining room table for the last 18 months and should really GO if I don't want it.  So I think I'll offer it to all you folks and if your interested perhaps you would send me an email to Robin Fawcett.  I'd like at least £175 for it so if you want it make me your best offer and I'll be in touch with you.

I bought it many years ago and turned a new handle for it on the Pole Lathe.  It's made from beautiful steel and it must have a good carbon content as it keeps it's edge beautifully.  Lovely and sharp - I could give myself a perfect shave with it.  You can see more of it on YouTube where I've got a film of making tent pegs although I used it mostly to knock out spatulas.

One of the main benefits is that you have real leverage when working on those uncompromising bits of timber and of course if you're using a softish wood like Willow, Poplar or Birch it slices them like a knife through butter.  I've since decided I really like using my axe more though! 


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