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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So I'm considering making a 1 gallon barrel to age some DIY beverage (hint, hint). It seems that cutting the staves has confounded many a woodworker. The internet has a lot on making actual barrels, but I have found nothing on cutting the angled edge that tapers towards each end. It seems not to complicated to me, thus my post. There must be something I don't understand about the process.

I'm thinking once cut, you would start with the width of one stave at its center and again at each end. I am thinking I would pop a straight line down the stave (center to end, each way). Then at the halfway point on each line, divide the distance between the line and the edge of the board in half and mark that. From this point, it gets tricky. The taper will have to go to zero at the end of each line. I'm thinking I could keep dividing the distance between the stave and the outside of the edge of the board in half at each middle (of the new line created--each half will now have a line from the edge to the new center mark). The difference is that I would have the half towards the center would be measured on the outside and the other half would have to be on the inside.

I think at the middle of each new line, you would mark a new center measured out the distance of the narrow side. If that makes sence.
 

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I've made a few buckets with tapered staves, but I've never attempted a barrel. I think it's a very ambitious project. Making a barrel that looks OK is one thing. Making a barrel that will hold liquid is something else. Good Luck!
 

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These guys made it look easy.
 

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here's some literature to look over and some place in here is Andy's stave calculator..

..
 

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That video was very interesting, especially the use of the precision woodworking tools. Some very serious axes there. I understand that some, if not all, of the Scotch distilleries now import once used whiskey barrels (un-assembled) whiskey barrels from the US, then assemble and use them. Apparently a considerable money saver, doing it that way, and it works as well as making their own.

I have seen a video that tells just how a small barrel is made, in sufficient detail to make one. Very nice, looking for that now, but not tracked it down yet. In the meantime ran across this, kind of tacky, I think, but would work, and pretty simple. But to be a real whiskey barrel, it would have to be charred inside.
Ah, this is the video I was thinking of. Looks tons better than most of the barrel making on utube. He makes it look easy, but of course, he's been doing it all day.
Most of the guys on utube just put regular whiskey in their barrels;why even bother, if that is all you are going to do?, and 2 weeks will NOT age it. If you want good whiskey, there are two ways to do it. Char your barrel, put in moonshine (you can purchase moonshine legally now, just go to a liquer store), and age it for 5 plus years. However, if you could get some 'good' moonshine (doubt seriously you can), it doesn't need aging - information from a sometimes misspent youth. Or, you could get some cheap whisky, basically rotgut, and put in 1 or 2 drops per ounce of sloe gin, and this will produce whiskey like the nectar of the Gods - information from a well spent youth.

And, if I ever meet whoever came up with the idea for Pinterest, I would be very happy telling them what they can do with it.
 

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here's some literature to look over and some place in here is Andy's stave calculator..

..
My stave bucket calculator should get you in the ballpark of the stave angles required for each end of the barrel. However, my calculator assumes the sides are straight, not rounded. I think one of the biggest challenges is making the tapered hoops just the right size and installing them. There's a reason coopering was (and is) a skilled profession. If my goal was to make whiskey rather than make authentic barrels, I'd forget about making the barrel wider in the middle and just make it with straight sides. I don't think the whiskey will care. I think the reason barrels were shaped the way they were was to make them easy to steer while rolling them. Also, it made them easier to upend.
 

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If my goal was to make whiskey rather than make authentic barrels, I'd forget about making the barrel wider in the middle and just make it with straight sides. I don't think the whiskey will care.
exactly...
 

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That video was very interesting, especially the use of the precision woodworking tools. Some very serious axes there. I understand that some, if not all, of the Scotch distilleries now import once used whiskey barrels (un-assembled) whiskey barrels from the US, then assemble and use them. Apparently a considerable money saver, doing it that way, and it works as well as making their own.

I have seen a video that tells just how a small barrel is made, in sufficient detail to make one. Very nice, looking for that now, but not tracked it down yet. In the meantime ran across this, kind of tacky, I think, but would work, and pretty simple. But to be a real whiskey barrel, it would have to be charred inside.

Ah, this is the video I was thinking of. Looks tons better than most of the barrel making on utube. He makes it look easy, but of course, he's been doing it all day.

Most of the guys on utube just put regular whiskey in their barrels;why even bother, if that is all you are going to do?, and 2 weeks will NOT age it. If you want good whiskey, there are two ways to do it. Char your barrel, put in moonshine (you can purchase moonshine legally now, just go to a liquer store), and age it for 5 plus years. However, if you could get some 'good' moonshine (doubt seriously you can), it doesn't need aging - information from a sometimes misspent youth. Or, you could get some cheap whisky, basically rotgut, and put in 1 or 2 drops per ounce of sloe gin, and this will produce whiskey like the nectar of the Gods - information from a well spent youth.

And, if I ever meet whoever came up with the idea for Pinterest, I would be very happy telling them what they can do with it.
Theo the second video was really good. I haven't watched the first one yet.

When I was very young we rented an apartment from a man and his wife. He worked for the ATF and it was New Years so we had a little party (just the 4 of us). He had some moonshine that he got on a raid but he knew it was okay to drink. It hadn't been run through a radiator. That stuff was so smooth it was like drinking a glass of water. I have had MS several times since then but none as smooth as that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Without doubt, a straight barrel is easy to make. A tapered 1 Gallon barrel would be pretty cool though. I do this for the enjoyment of working with my hands though. I will attempt one...see how it goes from there.

If I can get a good pattern, it should be doable. I do see a lot of people asking for a template, and nobody seems to gets one. So I'm sure it will be difficult...and I'm not going to beat myself up on a never ending quest! Cause a straight barrel will work just fine!

I took Calculus in college. I remember calculating 3 dimensional objects and plotting their lines. I may just go back to the FSU's math department and ask one of the professors to do it for me. Keep you guys updated.

One last question. This all depends on the whether a band saw will cut true with the table @ the correct angle and keeping on the curved line (top and bottom). Seems like it should but I have never use one so far. If the blade drifts off the line on the bottom, it's all for naught!
 

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Theo the second video was really good. I haven't watched the first one yet.

When I was very young we rented an apartment from a man and his wife. He worked for the ATF and it was New Years so we had a little party (just the 4 of us). He had some moonshine that he got on a raid but he knew it was okay to drink. It hadn't been run through a radiator. That stuff was so smooth it was like drinking a glass of water. I have had MS several times since then but none as smooth as that.
I was doing some logging near home home and had some dead larch which is somewhat prized for firewood here and a neighbor found out about it. He offered me some of his home made MS in trade and I'd heard stories about it so I agreed. It was some of the best whiskey I've ever had. Done right it as good as some of the better stuff with tax stamps and labels on the bottle. I think one of the tricks is to first make good wine out of the mash and if you do you can make good MS with copper or glass and no lead solder. This neighbor made his mash from $4 bags of feed barley.

This is a video I'd seen before of a barrel maker in eastern Europe somewhere. It doesn't show how to prepare the staves but the rest is pretty good and I was impressed with the home made tool he used for pulling the staves tight together.
 

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What about the iron hoops? Its the too tight hoops, heated to almost red hot that are hammered over the staves that draw the wood together and keep it watertight.
I don't recall them being put on anyway but cold. Wagon wheel band, yes, those are put on hot, and they shrink tight when they cool.
 

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One last question. This all depends on the whether a band saw will cut true with the table @ the correct angle and keeping on the curved line (top and bottom). Seems like it should but I have never use one so far. If the blade drifts off the line on the bottom, it's all for naught!
Considering they used to make the staves with axes, I wouldn't worry about it. I'd be more likely to try using an axe/hatchet, or a plane, or just sand the angle on a belt sander. Pretty sure the old-timers didn't use much advanced math when they made barrels.
 
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