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Empty Barrel Care?


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Any thoughts on the subject?

A little more than a year back, I purchased my own barrel of OWA. I've been using the barrel like a side table in my home office - just rolled it in and stood it on end.

One of the rings has slipped off and another is loose - the dry barrel seems to be shrinking. Curious if anybody has any tips for keeping an empty barrel together. Do I need to put a little water in it to keep the staves humid? Varnish it? Or if i slide the ring back in place and hold it with a screw will I be good for another ten years?

-rod

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Harry in WashDC

Wow. What a problem.

Back when JD was 94 proof and I drank it constantly, I, too, got an empty barrel (obviously, while I was consuming said stuff) from some reseller. When the staves shrunk, I drilled out rivets and replaced with stainless wood screws. I kept the barrel out of the rain. It lasted until I cut it in 1/4s and used for deck planters. Even then, I varnished the outside and Rustoleumed the inside, and they lasted a good 5 years more outside 24/7/365-6 (two leapyears - those extra 2 days were killers:rolleyes:).

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BonVivant84

There may be a cheaper option out there, but I like to use Boo's Board Cream (beeswax) on my butcher block when it dries out and starts to have little separations at the joints. Just rub a good coating on and let it sit for 24-48 hours while it expands and use a dry rag to remove.

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VAGentleman

I put a couple coats of polyurethane on mine. It has kept them from shrinking and gives it a nice shine

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  • 8 months later...

An update in case folks search for the same advice...

In advance of this year's Derby party, I took the Barrel outside and filled it with water. It leaked like a sieve.

The "french method" of swelling helped greatly - filling it to around 10% (5 gallons) with boiling water, replacing the bung and rolling it around. Steam and the smell of bourbon, mmm!

Did that twice and now it's doing a decent job of holding water again. Wouldn't be actually usable (it might still swell though). I was able to tap the hoops into place (a little tighter than they were previously) and it looks good. Also got a lot of char out on the deck when dumping the water, much to my wife's chagrin.

Makes you appreciate the cooperage craft to play with it.

After the party, I'm going to put some of the boos block oil on it and a few select screws to hold the hoops in place, figure it will be fine for another year or two without any more maintenance.

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For the record: No finish of any kind will keep wood from shrinking. Wood will expand and contract with changes in humidity levels. Finish will slow down the process a little, but that's all. Different species have different expansion and contraction rates. Ring porous, semi ring porous and diffuse porous also have an effect on the rate of movement.

This is why quality furniture is constructed in a way that allows for seasonal movement of the wood.

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