Category Archives: Canteens

Wooden canteens live another day


Wood was often the only available material for making canteens in the past.  They were probably used by the Romans, and there are some examples in Civil War collections.   Some woods, such as the white oak used for this one, are watertight, and may even improve the flavor of spirits, if not of the water they carry.  If you are planning for a watertight vessel, in addition to the white oak, you will need to use epoxy glues, and a tight-fitting silicon stopper.

Dennis has added new elements to the canteens he has demonstrated in Michigan, Mississippi, and at the John Campbell Folk School in N.C., with laser-cut designs for stone inlay on the medallion portion of the canteen.

The canteens will be one of his demonstrations for the Utah Woodturning Symposium.

Roman canteen on the road

Just in time for the Ides of March, Dennis will demonstrate turning a canteen for the Pikes Peak Woodturners on March 7th.  Vessels for water are usually called canteens, while those for other spirits may be known as flasks.  When made from white oak, the wooden canteen is capable of either function.

Dennis learned the canteen form from Chris Stott.  Chris makes a vessel about 3 1/2″ tall, which is illustrated in his book of Turned Boxes.  It is considered a box by woodturner standards because it is turned in the spindle (or end grain) orientation.  This form, however, also requires turning on the other axis, so it is technically a multi-axis turning.   Canteens do not appear very often in exhibits and club galleries, although both Dennis and Nick Cook teach the canteen in demonstrations and classes.

Dennis turns the canteens with contrast wood inserts, threaded lids, and lids of various shapes.  There are many opportunities for decorating the inserts, which gives the canteen project many opportunities for experimentation and decoration.   The steps for making the canteen are listed on the ‘Project’ tab on this site.



Dennis loves to teach the canteen, threaded or not, to more advanced turners who enjoy the magic it carries, along with spirits if made of white oak.