A workshop presented at the ALHFAM conference by
Tom Kelleher, Curator of Mechanical Arts at Old Sturbridge Village
Of all the workshops I attended at the ALFAM regional at OSV, this may be the most difficult to explain. Every year there is an auction to raise money for a fellowship to the conference the following year. This year I bid on a piggin made by Tom. I wanted it for under my table, in front of the hearth, so I had something to put refuse in while cooking.
Well, I won the bid, and off I went to watch Tom make the piggin. This was one of the workshops offered and I could not miss the making of my wooden piggin. While taking pictures, I was also taking notes so I could write this blog. Well, there must be over ten different tools, and a ton of steps needed to make a wooden piggin, and most were unfamiliar to me. My husband may be a carpenter when we need something, yet coopering is a whole other art form. So I’ll do my best to wander my way to the mystery of coopering.
Tom had pre-made the staves to make the piggin. He demonstrated on one by putting it on the shaving horse, and ,using the coopers draw knife, he curves the back. With a hollowing knife, the curve of the inside was done, and then, using the joint plane, he tapered the sides.
To hold the staves together, Tom takes iron hoops to use as a template, and a funny pin (for which I have no name.) Being that this piggin was to be mine he asked if I wanted the wide side up or down. I opted for up, this way I could easily throw food waste into it. Tom hammers the handle down to make the top wide.
The hoop driver is grooved to prevent them from slipping off the hoops when hit by the hammer. These hoops will tighten up the sides and are temporary.
Now the inside gets its shape. All the staves are not the same depth so he uses a special tool in two sizes to clean up the edges.
Tom takes the croze that cuts the groove in the bottom of the container. This is where the bottom boards will go.
A protractor is used to estimate the size of the bottom boards. Tom uses a bow saw to cut two pieces of pine for the bottom.
Once again he uses the drawing knife to shape the edges of the bottom. The straight inside edge is run over the joint plane and the two pieces of wood are placed in.
With the aid of a hammer, the bottom is tapped in place and the temporary hoop is once again tightened.
Now this is where my battery went dead in the camera. However, as I remember it, Tom then made the permanent hoops and placed the bottom on first then the top. He also ran the piggin bottom over the joint plane to make it level. Next he cut a curve in the handle and took a pen knife to round off the top. I have over-simplified the process that took almost two hours. However, it came out perfect, and I’m so glad to have my own original Tom Kelleher piggin.
Yes,conratulations on your win of the piggin. I cannot wait to see it near your new fireplace. What a great time you had. Keep going. JOAN
I almost skipped this colonial table because I am so stressed for time, but I read it and was really amazed by the whole thing. I can’t image how wonderful it was not only to win the bid but to get to see you very own piggin made before your eyes. Congrats! What a wonderful fund-raising idea…Cindi