Sunday, February 5, 2017

Making a small barrel 2, getting by using standard tools.

It seems natural that since coopering is a trade of its own, there are some special tools that goes along with that trade.
I haven't got any of those tools. But I have a lot of different tools and spare parts that can be used on board a ship. Some of those can often be used for other things.
Today I tried to use hose clamps for holding the barrel together before making the hoops.

Before I got to that part, I had made the last staves, and they were planed on the outside.
I planed the edges to an 18 degrees angle, so I would end up having 10 staves each with a total angle of 36 degrees.

This is where the challenges started.
At first I tried to hold the staves by hand inserting them in a ring that I had made from some old copper strands from an old electrical cable.
That didn't work.

The next attempt I tried to hold each stave in place using blue masking tape attached to the middle of the staves but with sufficient space between each so they could touch in the ends.
That wasn't a success.

Third attempt was to lay the staves closely together, so they touched at one end. Each stave was taped to its neighbour and finally put on an end and the last piece of tape held the stack together.
This seemed like the way to go.
I attached the copper wire ring, and made another one a bit smaller.

The assembly was rather flimsy, so I added another copper ring on the middle. That made it a bit more solid.
I found a couple of plastic cable tied and added those too. Then I removed the masking tape.

Getting the other end of the barrel closer together wasn't that easy. I was afraid to break the copper wire, and the cable ties weren't easy to tighten either.
That is when I decided to find some hose clamps.

At first I attached the hose clamps on the ends and tightened them up a bit. Then cam a larger model for the fat part of the barrel.
It started to look more like a barrel and less like a bunch of sticks held together with masking tape.

A thing that I noticed was that the individual staves didn't bend the same. I knew what the problem was, so there was no point in continuing with the hose clamps before I had fixed it.
The staves are not the same thickness.
I had gambled a bit that it probably wouldn't matter, but apparently it does matter.
Now I just have to find a way to make them a bit more uniform in thickness and then I can continue with the hose clamps.

The end result of the experiments so far.

Staves and copper wire.

This didn't work.

This helped.

Success is just around the corner.

Clamping using copper wire.

Moving into the plastic age using cable ties.

Hose clamps work great for this.


  1. Wow! Cool. You are almost there. It shouldn't be too difficult to thickness them.

    1. Thanks.
      I will just have to spend a little time on thicknessing.
      A problem is that the the staves aren't completely flat due to splitting them along the grain. But I'll have to find a way.

  2. Saw a video of an old time Irish maker putting the initial assembly over a fire before pulling the other end together. How do they feel about bonfires on your ship?

    1. Hi Jeff
      I could do it on the quay, but I doubt that it would be a hit.
      Before tightening the hose clamps I tried to see if I could locate out electric heat gun, but I couldn't find it.
      Anyway, the staves are approx. 1/4" thick, so bending them isn't really a problem.
      The problem now is that there are a few of them that a bit thicker than the rest, so they don't bend as easy and thus make the barrel a bit crooked.


  3. Nice! I've never really seen anybody attempt this before using your methods. It's very interesting.

    1. Hi Bill

      The hose clamps work really well for this.
      And there is a lot of clamping power in them as well.

  4. What a cool project!!!
    Now tell us the truth... is this a barrel or a beer mug??? :)

    1. Hi António

      I am glad that you like the project.
      It is really going to be a small barrel. I prefer to drink my beer straight from the bottle, so making a beer mug would be a bit of a waste.

  5. Cool project! Interesting to see your trial and error clamping methods, I wish I remembered to photograph when I'm trying to find something on hand that works. I wonder if you only need consistent thicknesses in the ring contact areas, and second Brian's jig or fixture idea.

    1. Hi Jeremy
      I think consistent thickness is most important in the middle section of the barrel. Because if one stave is thicker than its neighbour, it won't bend as easily. It is something of a puzzle, because some of the staves already have a bit of a bend in them. So they behave a little different that those without a natural bend.

      In short I think that using straight grained stock that is uniform in density and thickness would have been an easier approach.
      But since I haven't got access to that there wasn't much of a choice :-)