01-13-2011 10:55 AM - edited 01-13-2011 10:58 AM
Do's anyone know how to make a wooden barrel? I'm looking for plans for something like a whiskey or wine barrel. I'm wanting to make a small one, about One to Five gal. Size. But any size will do.
01-13-2011 11:11 AM
I can't help you with personal experience but there's a ton on information and videos on the internet about "barrel making/coopering. Try a Google search.
01-13-2011 03:55 PM
With your interest in making barrels, I would suggest that if you are ever anywhere near Williamsburg, Virginia be sure to visit and see the coopers there make barrels the way they did in colonial times. I am sure it is something you would enjoy.
01-15-2011 08:11 AM
Having worked as a volunteer cooper for several years at a historic site, I can tell you this is not a craft that one picks up casually. One of the best historical references out there is a book called "The Cooper and His Trade". It is mainly coopering from an English perspective but gives you insight to the meaning of really obscure terms like tun, hogshead, pony, croze, bung, chime and firken. You'll learn why coopers always did their sharpening on Mondays (usually had to do with drinking too much over the weekends and they were in no shape to do fine craftsmanship first thing on a Monday)
Even the term "barrel" does not have a precise meaning and it's size would be influenced not only by country of origin, but by what it was holding (sour mash, nails or apples). The three main branches of coopering are dry, tight and white. Tight coopering made barrels that would be liquid tight, or in the case of beer, would also have to be gas tight. Dry coopering would be making barrels to hold (you guessed it) dry materials, like flour, nails or apples. White coopering is usually what most people start with. This is usually meant to refer to straight sided vessels like buckets or tankards. This is a good starting point. Once you master the straight sided vessels whose staves taper in only one direction, you can then move onto barrels whose staves taper in both directions.
Good luck on your attempts. It's a fun craft to practice and learn about.
01-15-2011 03:51 PM - edited 01-15-2011 04:08 PM
Amazing how one persons comment leads to other thoughts. When you explained white coopering, I am reminded of the old Bongo and Conga drums of years past, some round, others 6 or 8-sided. Some of the joints were mitered and tapered, others were tapered with birds mouth joints.
I then remembered an article in WOOD magazine about a young lady building variations on traditional African drums using white coopering methods (without metal bands).
I just searched to find the artical on the drums, but can't find it.
01-18-2011 05:40 AM
If you have access to back issues of Wood, #96, April, 1997 has an article on a cooper and how he does it. Not really a set of plans but may give you some ideas. PM me if you can't find back issue.
01-18-2011 09:25 AM
Here is a link you might find interesting;
06-19-2012 04:54 PM
To keep this short: I am looking for the equipment for making barrels that I saw in Switzerland when I lived there for 9 1/2 years. It was steel hoop - like a lariette (a cowboys rope). The steel was a thick braid of twisted strands which was ratched. The staves were all made and the steel bands were lying there ready. As you ratcheted the steel rope it drew the staves more upright and together. I saw this in the fall when the area vintners open their cellars for people to tour all the local cellars. I could kick myself for not checking this out while I still lived there. If you send me an email I think I can draw a good example of the equipment I saw and the vintners were more than willing to demonstrate. There were barrels there as small as approx. 5 gallons, some about 4 foot tall and many were (laying on their sides on chocks) were 8 foot tall or larger.