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How to Make Wooden Canteens

Make your own wood canteen for your next camping trip.
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Wooden canteens may sound like a bad joke or a poor way to prepare for a camping outing, but as recent as the Civil War era, wooden canteens were widely used throughout the U.S. Often carried by soldiers, canteens were constructed of pine or oak and were sealed with bees wax. They featured cloth straps and metal bands. You can purchase a replica wooden canteen or make your own canteen with your preferred style of wood and the more common paraffin wax, instead of bees wax, as a sealant.

Sketch your canteen on a piece of paper to the size you want it. Consider a canteen that is six to eight inches in diameter. Cut out the sketch and trace it onto a piece of three-inch thick white pine board. Cut the shape out of the white pine with a coping saw.

Use a wood-carving knife to make 1/16-inch indentations on the face of the can, along the perimeter. Then, carve away the wood inside the indentations to 1/16-inch thick to create the canteen’s face.

Bore a 1/8-inch hole into the top of the canteen to create a hole for the canteen neck and cap to fit into. Carve the one-piece neck and cap unit out of a piece of regular pine so that it fits into the 1/8-inch hole. Attach one end of a piece of four-inch long chain link to the top middle of the neck and cap piece with a metal thumb tack. Set the neck and cap piece aside.

Sand the narrow sides of the canteen with a piece of medium-grit sandpaper. Cut two pieces of 1/4-inch wide aluminum that are equal to the diameter of your canteen. Attach the aluminum to the canteen with super glue and metal thumbtacks at either end of the strips.

Stain the canteen with a walnut-colored wood stain and allow it to dry completely. Attach the neck and cap into the hole and connect the free end of the chain mail to the canteen with another metal thumb tack.

Form two metal fittings halfway down the canteen, on either side, out of no. 20 wire. Form a loop out of each wire and slide your leather strap through them. Hammer the loose ends of the wire into the sides of the canteen.

Things You'll Need:

  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • 3-inch thick white pine board
  • Pine
  • Super glue
  • Coping saw
  • Wood carving knife
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • 4 inches of chain link
  • 1/4-inch aluminum sheet
  • Walnut wood stain
  • 6 inches of no. 20 solid wire
  • 24-inch long leather strap
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