Oak barrel staves from reclaimed wine barrels are a wood medium that yield stunning products.
This is beautiful wood with lots of character. One side is stained a deep purple from the red wine that aged in the barrel for up to seven years. The other side has a lovely grey patina from being exposed to the weather, with white stripes from the metal rings that held the barrel together.
Depending on the source, the barrel might have held red wine, white wine, or even whiskey (retired wine barrels are often used by whiskey makers to impart a unique smokey taste to their product).
Here is a video about how a traditional wine barrel is constructed.
As you can see from the video, one of the challenges of building with barrel staves is that no two staves are the same shape. They are different thicknesses, widths and even lengths. They are also curved in all three dimensions: they are wider in the middle and tapered at the ends, the inside is concave, and the outside is convex.
They are held together in the barrel by iron rings, and when the rings are removed the wood springs back a bit. The amount of springback varies depending on the wood, the age, the temperature and the humidity. Even two adjacent staves that fit together perfectly in the barrel will not align exactly once released from the rings.
Here is a video of me removing that last barrel hoop to open up a barrel.
Joining any two staves together takes a good eye and lots of patience so barrel stave items are incredibly challenging to make. Despite the effort, the results are quite impressive.
Our standard barrel stave candles are simple yet elegant decorations for your table or shelf. With simple glass inserts and tealight candles, the sweep and colour of the wood stand out.
Our fancy barrel stave candles are more complex and more flamboyant. Made from two barrel staves and with more prominent glass candle holders, these are statement pieces that will stand out on any mantle or large table.
One of the most complex products that we make from barrel staves are our bowls. Ranging from 18 to 36 inches in length, each bowl top is made from two or three barrel staves glued together, standing on a base made from one or two barrel staves. Because the staves do not “spring back” evenly when the barrel is opened, gluing up the tops is very complex and requires lots of clamps to align everything.
One of the best things about working with barrel staves is that the wood gives off an amazing smell when cut and drilled – my workshop is redolent with hints of woodsmoke, wine and sometimes even whiskey.
Check out the barrel stave gifts available in our store.