In my last post on coopering, we left off with the shaping of the staves. We are now at the assembly stage. The staves are assembled into a cone shape inside an iron hoop.
They are placed over a cresset which is a rickety looking structure used to hold a small fire.
The fire warms up the wood to make it more pliable for bending. Black Creek has a steam oven designed to steam large barrels with thick staves. The staves would be moistened before being put over the oven. Once warmed, the splayed staves are drawn together by driving on successively smaller hoops known as truss hoops.
The hoops are driven on with a hammer driver and hoop driver. Riveted iron hoops, usually six for beer casks, are driven on, and the barrel goes over the steam oven one more time to encourage the wood to retain the barrel shape.
Next post – cutting the chime, chiv and croze!