I have been asked many times why use wine barrel wood? Especially by my more traditional woodworking friends. Yes there are times when “new wood” is better, but then part of every wood workers soul is to create something unique. Over the past five years since I began working with wine barrel wood I have created many different items and while they don’t always look like my first concept all in all they have more than met expectations. I am continually learning how to use the three basic components; the head and bottom, the staves and the metal hoops. Along with the corks and bottles the list of ideas has grown to over 100. I started out just making candle holders that people have been producing since the 60’s. In looking back to my roots barrels or tubs were one of the primary items my Great-Grandfather built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s for the people of Western North Carolina. I am fortunate to have one of his 5 gal tubs, unfortunately in my curious youth I took it apart and just recently began the process of reassembling it once the water re swells it I will post a photo. It is still amazing that he built this with hand tools and from memory. I remember asking my grand father did Grandpa Davis have things written down and he said only who had ordered it and what size and the price. From talking with relatives I heard many stories of how he challenges anyone to prove that the tubs didn’t hold exactly the amount he said they would. Here is a photo of the house he built that now resides in The Smokey Mountain National Park Farm Museum near Cherokee, NC
Recycling was not my original purpose. I just appreciated the quality of the wood. Cooperages raise the oak like a crop and only 1/3 of the wood harvested passes the grade to be made into barrels. There are no knots in the wood which is great as working around knots can be frustrating and sometimes cause the failure of a project. The other main reason is the uniqueness of each piece of wood. I have worked with over 1,000 barrels and no two are alike, just as the wine contained in them. IKEA does an excellent job of mass producing items; I want to create things that are unique and durable as well as functional. The current cost of a new barrel, even from Hungary is well over $800 and to just make them in to planters seem such as waste. I would say 70 percent the ideas from me, but the other 30 percent come from customers and translating their ideas into reality is one of the more exciting projects I do.
Future posting I will share the different process involved in making these items. Including a “foot spa”