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Thread: Wood Canteen

  1. #1
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    Jan 2013
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    Default Wood Canteen

    Does anyone have any helpful photos or tips on how to make a wood canteen from the 1840s

  2. #2

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    You have to have crazy good woodworking and ironworking skills to try and attempt. Every joint has to be dead on.
    Robert Collett
    8th FL / 13th IN
    Armory Guards
    WIG
    Common Ground forum http://www.thecommonground.proboards.com

  3. #3
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    Most of the wood canteens in the Civil War were left over from earlier wars. During the Revolutionary War, the British cut off imports of tin to the colonies so the Americans resorted to wood. Wood doesn't make a great canteen. But then neither did tin, glass, leather, gutta-percha or most of the other materials available.

    I made a bunch of wooden canteens a couple of years ago. I used pine because of the expense. If I was only making one or two I would use some more durable wood like walnut.

    There is a picture of one of mine at:

    <http://www.whitanderson.com/cw/canteen/>

    I suggest a waterproof glue. They will likely leak, but waterproof glue will help keep them from falling apart. There is at lease one company that sells pitch to be used to seal the inside of wood canteens.

    I used copper for the banding since that is what I knew how to work with. I believe that iron was used much more frequently.

    I built mine with flat sides. I then put them on the belt sander with the table set to about 10 (?) degrees. The 10 degrees tilt meant that I sanded the bottom edge first. When the sanding got to about halfway up, I turned the canteen over and did the same again. That meant that the center was higher than the edges. That meant that a band put around the canteen at the edge could be driven onto the canteen until it was tight. The wood does expand in the summer and shrink in the winter so that the bands are looser in the winter.

    There is a short band that fastens the bands together. I used a rivet to fasten that short band to the longer bands that go around the canteen. A lot of the pictures that I saw had the short bands forced under the long bands and then bent back around and over the long bands.

    --Whit

  4. #4
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    Yes I can see that now...what kind of material was used for straps?

  5. #5
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    Thanks a lot...I appreciate the great advice!

  6. #6
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    Thanks a lot, I appreciate the great advice!

  7. #7
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    Here is what I did for a 1812 impression about 20 years ago, but I have gotten the best use from in my ACW events.
    Cut out two rounds out of the wood/size of your choice about a half to a inch thick. Go to an old fashion deli and see if you can get one of the wooden cheese boxes, they should come in a round, wood frame, made of white oak. The white oak can be cut to fit the wood rounds you have cut. Steam the white oak and it will bend around the wood rounds, when in place, tack them onto the rounds, with about a 1/4 to 1/2 over lap. In the middle of the over lap drill a good sized hole for drinking from. If it leaks, wax it,( I know, I know, never say Wax!). Tack on about three leather tabs for your canteen strap, paint the outside the color of your choosing......."Bobs your uncle, Fanny's your aunt, you have a "Cheese box canteen".
    "In the heat of battle it ceases to be an idea for which we fight... or a flag. Rather... we fight for the man on our left and we fight for the man on our right... and when armies have scattered and when the empires fall away... all that remains is the memory
    of those precious moments... we spent side by side."

    Paul Bennett

  8. #8
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    Once upon a time, I used to build wood Canteens. It took a couple of years of trial & error to get them "right".

    There were many thousands of wood canteens made for the Confederacy during the War. They became more common as the War progressed. You begin to see them showing up in the ANV during the spring of 1863. The wood canteens were used earlier out west. While these canteens varied in their details, the basic construction was pretty standard. They averaged about 2 3/8" to 2 1/2" deep and about 7" in diameter. There would normally be 9 to 12 staves. These staves would be thin, not much over a 1/4", or 3/8" thick. Most of the canteens had iron bands from 3/8" to 1/2" wide, with three sling keepers made from iron, tin plate, or brass. Most of these canteens were machine made, in that they had turned faces and moulded staves. The spouts were turned and set into a hole in one of the staves

    Many of these canteens still exist, in any number of museums and relic shops, where they can be viewed. Another great source of information is the book "Civil War Canteens", by Sylvia & O'Donnel.

    At this time, I only know of two sources for authentic wood canteens, S&S Sutler, in Gettysburg, and Nick Sekela. They aren't cheap. Does anybody know of any other authentic sources?
    Last edited by TheQM; 02-05-2013 at 01:44 AM.
    Bill Rodman, If you need a really bad example.
    King of Prussia, PA
    wrodman1@aol.com

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the great info and tips, it is helping a lot!

  10. #10
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    Check out Jim Mayo's site for some wood canteens.

    http://www.angelfire.com/ma4/j_mayo/cscanteen.html
    Bill Rodman, If you need a really bad example.
    King of Prussia, PA
    wrodman1@aol.com

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