Re: US Cheese Box Canteens
- Gary's in the cooperage, so I'm going to answer.
Sealants of any sort on any type of cooperage generally was and is
considered the mark of shoddy workmanship. Not to denigrate Beaver Buckets.
Sealants are sometimes used as stop-gap measures to increase the longevity
of wine or whiskey barrels, such as a flour paste. Sometimes brewer's pitch
was used inside brewery barrels for the same reason. Gaskets in the form of
reeding (bullrush or iris) are often used for the same reasons or in
A well-coopered vessel should be watertight through excellent joinery
and tight hoops, not through any sort of glues or sealants.
Having said that, Gary has examined some original and reproduction
cheesebox canteens and can't for the life of him figure out how these
puppies were watertight from the get go. His conclusion, which isn't
necessarily the right one, but rather an opinion from a cooper attempting to
produce reproduction artifacts, is canteens, whether wood-hooped or metal
were mass produced, cheap, without thought for workmanship. Likely most were
paraffined or lined with brewer's pitch on the field by soldiers who became
frustrated with being thirsty and having wet uniforms.
The canteens Gary produces are watertight. So right from the start one
could argue they're not true reproductions I suppose. But given that OUR
re-enactor soldiers don't wish to be thirsty and have wet uniforms, he makes
sure every single canteen is watertight through the standards of fine
coopering, not glues or sealants. Once the canteen is wet is must always
remain wet. Gary's first and therefore his personal canteen is never empty
He has been asked on numerous occasions to produce cheesebox canteens.
He continues to decline because of the technical difficulties he foresees in
creating a true reproduction that will also be watertight through the
principals of fine cooperage. It is his reputation, afterall, that is on the
line. If he starts producing what is in essence slack cooperage then how
could customers trust him to produce excellent watertight cooperage?
As to buckets, pails, barrels, etc., sure, you can go ahead and put a
pretty finish on it if you wish. By doing so you're eventually going to
hinder the natural properties of the wood and over time end up with a rather
expensive pile of fire or whittling wood. We're waiting to see how our
canteens stand up over a decade having been painted on the outside for
regimental purposes. So far so good. But we also warn our customers to
never, never wax or line their canteens, to simply keep it wet.
For information on the Care of Cooperage you can visit our website. We
have a page with some suggestions and tips for the ease of our customers.
Five Rivers Chapmanry ~ purveyors of quality hand-crafted cooperage
fine hand-sewn embroidered garments, historical sewing patterns & embroidery
(519) 799-5577, http://www.5rivers.org email: info@...