Introduction: Converting an Old Whiskey Barrel Into a Dog Bed
Last November my good friend Ezra's little chocolate Labrador Ginny was due her 1st birthday. Ginny is a special little dog, she lives in a bar in the centre of Nottingham as the resident pub dog. For some reason Ginny has smaller than usual legs but a big loving heart. Everyone that comes in to the bar likes to give Ginny a fuss.
Ginny has a habit of chewing all the beds she gets given, so there was no point of buying fancy beds for them to be destroyed by her playfulness. The Pub she lives in is called the Six Barrel Drafthouse, with this in mind I thought I had a solution for a hardwearing bed for her.
Sticking with the pubs name of Six Barrel, I obtained a couple of old Oak Whiskey Barrels, to kick of the thought process.
I hope you will join me on building this at times tricky project, which came out better than I could have visioned. I suggest you start by watching the video above to see the process and Ginny's reaction to the bed.
Below are links to tools and materials I used in this article. It is either the exact tool/supply or something very close.
- Oak Whiskey Barrel
- Reclaimed pallet wood for trim.
- 1/2" ply for the bed pan
- 1/4" ply for the sides
- 1" x 1" x 6ft
- Reclaimed non spec timber for the throne
- Table Saw
- Decking Screws 2"
- Band Saw
- Jig for circular cuts on the band saw home made
- Carpenter's pencil
Note: The links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Step 1: Design Ideas
With my day job I have a lot of time sat on trains thinking. In these times I tend to sit doodling ideas in my notebook, and as I knew Ginny's birthday was approaching I begin to doodle a rough sketch of the design. I had previously seen several dog bed using half a barrel like a flower tub but nothing being cut the opposite way.
I knew how barrels are constructed and the though of cutting the bands on the barrel raised a few questions.
Step 2: Cutting the Barrel
To cut the barrel in half I would normally now start to find the centre of the end of the barrel circle.
In this instance because the barrel is made up of staves of roughly equal width, I was able to identify opposite staves and trace them across the end of the barrel and they also gave a long line to cut along the length of the barrel.
After drawing the line of the cut down the barrel, I began to secure the steel bands to the body of the unit. This is because the bands are all under tension as welded rounds, knowing that as soon as I cut the band it would pop open. I secured the bands either side along the proposed cut line using the Zinc-plated Carbon steel Metal Screws, these were able to self tap through the steel band and straight into the Oak staves.
Once these connected i added a securing bracket across the ends of the barrel also, this was my biggest concern of the barrel collapsing once separated.
I used my Circular Saw which has a multi material blade on it to cut through the Oak staves and the Steel bands in one action. This was a nervous moment, made easier by the smell of the whiskey in the barrel leaking out as I cut into it.
Step 3: Clean the Barrel
The inside of an Oak Whiskey Barrel is charred to preserve it so there wasn't any cleaning to be done on the inside.
The outside of the barrel was weather warn, using 2 handheld grinders 1 with a wirewool brush and 1 with a cutting disk(to prevent constant swapping of disks), I went over staves and bands removing debris wood and rust. I ensured that the bands had no sharp edges and were slightly below the remaining wood.
Step 4: Creating the Inner Frame
The pan of the bed is required to sit flat inside the rounded bed, so I created a suspension frame with 2 main rafters and various noggins to provide a secure structure using the 1 x 1 timber.
Using a little scrap oak I replace the brace pieces on the outside of the barrel with new braces on the inside of the barrel ends to ensure the barrel shape remained, i secured this with 2" decking screws.
Step 5: Create the Mount
To sit the barrel flat on the floor it required a throne to stop it rocking.
This began as a simple task, bending a metal rule between 3 pins on a piece of wood to get the arc of the barrel to cut along. Once I had this set I need to ensure the two chocks would sit flat on the floor, using a straight edge between the 2 pieces I identified the angel of the cut that was needed and trimmed the chocks.
I made a simple frame around the chocks to allow the barrel to sit with no movement, securing in place with a couple of 2 inch decking screws.
Step 6: Create the Entrance
Using the same techniques as the original cutting of the barrel, secured the bands around the proposed scalloped entrance to the bed. Using my Multifunction Saw I removed the 3 staves to create the opening.
Step 7: Finishing
The finish applied to the outside of the barrel was a simple liberal application of boiled linseed oil, which was wiped off after a couple of minutes.
Where this was on the steel bands it was heated with the flame from a blow torch to blacken/darken the steel. This gave an antique look to the steel and oak.
Step 8: Add the Trim
I used reclaimed pallet wood that had a live edge, using this to create a mitred frame around the top of the barrel to hide the raw edges.
For the trim and throne I used the blow torch to scorch the wood.
The bed pan is cut out from 1/2 Ply and the side panels from 1/4" ply to make a clean look of the bed pan.
Inside the bed I coated the bed pan and side panels with exterior grade fence paint, incase Ginny has and accidents.
Step 9: Presenting to Ginny
W.C. Fields is famously quoted as saying "Never work with animals or children."
Ginny is both as she is now nearly 18 months old. I took the finished bed over to the pub where she lives to present it to her and to see if she would get in it.
After she gave me some of her usual affection I placed her soft bed liner into the new bed and she was straight into the bed and seemingly loved it, as soon as I stopped recording she decided to have a wrestle with the soft liner. I feel the bed fits in perfectly inside the bar aesthetic.
I hope you enjoyed this project, if you did, you might also enjoy following me on other social media:
If you make one, I'd love to see pictures and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below.
Grand Prize in the
Pets Speed Challenge