The cooper would shape staves using several tools. The cooper shaped the stave to be slightly cupped, convex on the outside face and concave on the inside face. He did this using special draw knives. The Tison Tool Barn holds an example of a cooper's hollowing draw knife, which was used to shape the concave face of the board.
The tools in the Tison Tool Barn have come from private collections, and the Matheson History Museum has little or no information on the source and history of the tools. Individual tools may have passed through the hands of dealers and collectors who were not always aware of the intended or actual use of the tool. We cannot always rely on the names attached to such tools when they are donated to the museum. The Tison Tool Barn has a tool that has been labeled as a cooper's side-ax, but it has a three-foot long handle, and every source I have found states that a cooper's side-ax has a very short handle. The tool in the photo below has been labeled a turner's side-ax, but my search of the Internet has found only one mention of a turner's side-ax, and many references to cooper's side-axes. The tool in the Tison Tool Barn pictured below matches all the descriptions and photos of a cooper's side-ax that I have found. This tool may have had other uses, and short-handled side-axes are used today for carving wood, but the tool pictured is representative of a cooper's side-ax.
After the staves are hooped, both ends of a cask and the bottom of a white-cooperage container are prepared for fitting a head (yes, a head closes a bottom, so that a single-bottomed container has one head, while a double-bottomed cask has two heads). Next week I will describe tools held in the Tison Tool Barn that were used by coopers to prepare the ends of casks and white-cooperage containers for receiving heads, and for tapping liquids stored in casks.
'Cooper (profession)', at Wikipedia
'Barrel', at Wikipedia
The Cooper (Bedford County)
Eighteenth Century French Coopers
Making Wooden Buckets
The Newfoundland Cooper Trade
Cooper or Barrel maker (covers coopering in the turpentine industry in northern Florida)