The manufacturing of natural cork stoppers started in Spain about the middle of the 18th century.
At first the stoppers were made entirely by hand. The bark was sliced into narrow strips which were cut into small squares and rounded by being turned around a very sharp knife. This slow process was abandoned in the early 19th century in favor of a hand blocking machine which very much looks like a wood working lathe. The cutting or blocking of the stoppers is done by an approximately 6″ long “pipe” which has an extremely sharp edge on one side mimicking a knife. It rotates and is pushed against a strip of cork by a lever mechanism operated by a handle. Today, automatic machines of a similar design perform this work.
Natural cork stoppers used to prevent liquids from leaking out or evaporating, are cut across the pores of the cork bark strip. The width of this strip determines the length of the stopper. The thickness of the cork bark determines the diameter of the cork stopper (when cut across the pores). For very large diameters which exceed the thickness of the thickest bark, the cork stoppers are cut in the direction of the pores. Such stoppers are usually reserved for jars with solid content. (For such applications “poreless” composition cork stoppers have become increasingly popular, mostly due to the lower price).
Tapered cork stoppers are made from straight sided stoppers which are placed at an angle and pushed against a large rotating cylindrical knife skiving the stopper into the desired tapered size.
Before being packaged the stoppers are washed and assorted into different qualities.
Not a stocked item – Available by special order in large quantities only.