Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition


Make beautiful iron-banded buckets with old-fashioned cooper's tools. Weekend class with Steve Habersetzer.





Coopering is the traditional craft of making buckets, barrels, baths and all forms of storage containers. Cooperage was a huge trade in the late 1800's and in the early part of the 20th century. The coopers not only to served brewers but most dry goods were transported around the globe in coopered containers. Even some wet goods - ask the late Admiral Nelson.

In England the last brewer's cooperage closed in October 2009. There are several coopers alive and well in the US and we want to continue to inspire our students to learn and keep alive this traditional craft.

In this class we teach the basic techniques of coopering and these can be learnt by anyone. No prior woodworking experience is needed.

What our students say...

"Good instructor with good demeanor. Steve worked great with students with all levels of skill."

Class Description

This class is taught by Steve Habersetzer. Steve is the everyman woodworker. One of Steve's first jobs was making traditional coopered buckets in an unheated shack somewhere in Eastern Washington.

In this two day class you'll make a bucket from Douglas Fir or from other old growth wood salvaged from old buildings or some other high quality softwood (it's getting harder to find good quality first growth wood). 

In most cases you'll make the staves from sawn boards. Whether working from split blanks or sawn blanks you'll shape them with a hatcher and then you’ll then learn how to bevel the staves on a cooper’s plane.

After rough assembling the bucket you’ll measure the length and make the iron bands – hammering them to flare them out to fit.

After cleaning the inside of the bucket with a scorp you’ll make a base for the bucket using a band saw and hand plane. Then you’ll fit the base and hammer on the iron bands to complete the bucket.

We'll look in more depth at coopering tools and how to make them. We'll show you how to make a full size Cooper's plane and we'll look how you can repurpose larger hand planes to make smaller coopered parts.


All tools for the class are provided. We recommend bringing a digital camera to record the steps to make the bucket.


There are no pre-requisites for this class. We welcome folks new to woodworking to take this class. Some of the tools and techniques listed in the class description may sound daunting, but they are simple to learn and fun to use. This is one of those classes where everybody helps out everybody else. We've had grannies to teens take the class!

Class Information and Registration

Class runs from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in Building #315 at Fort Worden.
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the school.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size:  10
Cost:   $325
Materials Charge:   $90

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.