Introduction: Bar in a Barrel
Do you like the rustic look? Are you a fan of drinking or storing nick-knacks.? Do you want a sweet side table the doubles as a bar?
Here it is, a bar in a barrel.
Step 1: Dimensions
First you want to figure out how large you want your barrel. That includes overall height, circumference at the top/bottom and across the middle.
You can see I made mine at 2'2" tall with a 60" top/bottom circumference and a middle circumference of 70" using 20 staves.
You'll want to print these out full scale. That way you can laminate them to your lumber rather than drawing it out twenty times.
Step 2: Making the Staves
So rather than working as a traditional cooper I made my staves individually, then attached them all together.
After planing some oak down to 3/4" I cut my them around 26". This gave me room form the extra length needed to bend the staves, as well as slop for safety. Always make sure you have some extra just in case.
I ripped each piece into thirds to allow it to become flexible enough to bend. I figured bendy ply would be too weak and kerfing the wood would leave unsightly marks on the inside.
I glued the laminated pieces back together and clamped them into a jig I made from scrap wood that matched the curved of the barrel profile. (There is no image of the jig. Sorry.)
After 2 hours in the jig, I released my piece, laminated on my drafting and took it to the band-saw to cut both the tapered edge and bevel (which allows it to actually come together as a barrel).
Step 3: Get Out the Glue and Ratchet Straps
Forming the barrel. Now it's looking like something.
This is possible to do solo, but having a friend would make it easier.
I cut out scrap circles from 3/4 ply to act as a inner frame to help keep my staves from falling inward as I ratchet-strapped them together.
Make sure to add wood glue in-between each stave so there isn't one weak one. After the glue cured I popped out the inner frame and added some bondo to the inside only for extra security. I planned to paint the inside rather than stain it so this was a viable choice. If you want to stain the inside, keep the bondo minimal. It doesn't take stain.
And now you sand for days...well hours. I went started at 80 grit and stopped at 330. You want to take your time here to get it as smooth and good-looking as you want. If it's going to be handled a lot, keep that grit high. If you want it to look old and worn, don't go so high.
Step 4: Separate and Add Shelves
Take the jig saw to it and cut your newly formed barrel right down the middle.
I chose to made two doors that swing open. You might want one door that is a full half of the barrel.
Again I used oak that I planed down to 3/4" then cut to the inner circumferences of the barrel - with a beveled edge - and simply screwed them in from the outside with some drywall screws.
The bottom shelf has some UHMW feet to allow it to open smoothly. The middle and top have a lip of oak running around the barrel to help give it more support.
I finished off the end grain of the shelves with some oak veneer stripping. Make sure you cut your shelves short, do not just just them in half and half again. Once you add the veneer it will not want to close all the way.
Step 5: Make It More Barrelly
To sell the look as a proper coopered barrel I (made paper models first) made the banding out of 18 ga aluminum with tin snips. I used both 5-minute epoxy to adhere it to the wood as well as screwing right through the aluminum into the shelving or the lip of the shelving. To hid the screw heads I gathered up a handful of thumbtacks with a nice rounded head to work as faux rivets. Hit them with some silver spray paint then once dry, snapped off the needle part and hot-glue it over-top of the screw head.
For the railing I used 1/4" steel rod, bent it to shape with an oxy-acetylene torch, pre-drilled out holes in the selves, and went back to my trusty 5-minute expoy and set it and forget it.
Step 6: Paint and Stain and You're Almost Ready
Paint or stain it however you like. It's smart to test the stain on some scrap from the same wood used to truly see how it will take to the wood. I used a the same stain for the outside as well as the shelves. Simple flat black paint for the inside.
I touched up the banding with a F.E.V. (French Enamel Varnish) treatment to get a look I liked.
Finally I covered the whole thing in polyurethane to seal it up. After everything cured, it was ready to be stocked with my favorite alcohol, mixers, and glasses.
There you have it.
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