t was an old wooden cookie bucket handed down from his mother that intrigued the curious and technical mind of Hank Williams, "How was that constructed...what calculations must be made to make the unequal width tapering staves fit together perfectly into a tapering round shape?"
Armed with an inheritance of woodworking skills and tools from his father and uncle, Hank tackled the project. Untold calculations, improvised jigs and tools later, the finished cypress bucket took its place in the kitchen to be filled with goodies for the visiting grandchildren. He had begun a twenty year journey into the craft of the White Cooper, a craftsman of wooden buckets to hold dry goods.
As his interest and skill grew, he was influenced to search out other practitioners of the craft, discovering and benefiting from Drew Langsner's Country Workshop video of an old Swiss cooper, Rudi Koehler. Hank began to perfect his techniques and construct the ancient knives and planes used by old coopers. The variety and beauty of the varied buckets earned him membership in the Mississippi Craftsmen's Guild, a juried organization of craftsmen dedicated to keeping alive many old craft skills.
The fascination of mastering both the technicalities and the woodworking skills needed to produce an outstanding variety of buckets of cherry, walnut, cypress, poplar and oak, provided a creative hobby for the busy manager for a large heavy equipment dealership, and will provide a creative outlet for his skills in the approaching retirement years.
Hank graduated from Mississippi State University with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Business Management. His professional career has included the management of the process of the production of polyester fibers, the production of wood preserved utility poles, the management of oil-field production, and the management in a heavy equipment dealership.
Hank Williams, at work on
his father's shave horse.
Custom, hand-made tools
Curved and tapered staves compose
the sides of these buckets.