Barrel Craft

By Michelle Brunet

Making crafts out of wooden barrels, such as kegs, whiskey or wine barrels, is a way to prevent them from ending up in the landfill. What's more, each barrel has its own historic character, stains or tannins from their contents which will make your crafts visually intriguing. Make art or functional crafts out of the entire barrel or its individual staves; paint them with a stain or clear varnish or leave them in rugged condition. If you are interested in making a small scale craft with one or two staves, contact a winery or barrel company to see if they also sell the individual panels of wood.


Craftsmen convert old wooden barrels into furnishings. If you have some basic woodworking skills, or are willing to learn, you can create indoor or outdoor furniture. A side table or stool can be constructed using the circular bottom of the barrel for the top of the piece, four staves for the legs and one of the barrel's hoops as an inner support for the legs. Alternatively, you can keep the barrel whole, sand it down and apply an attractive stain for an artsy side table or bistro-style table. A patio chair can be made completely out of staves; you can also cut a barrel in half, turn it over, and put a pillow on top for a chair for your living room.

Outdoor Features

One popular use for reusing barrels, as demonstrated by the Discovery Garden at University of California's Davis campus, is converting them into planters and garden pots. Add several vertical dimensions to your landscape by using whole barrels, halves of barrels and other different sizes. Remember to drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Your children or friends can even paint different designs on the outside of the barrel for an artistic touch. Another backyard craft option is to create wind chimes with parts of an old barrel. By arranging barrel hoops and individual staves along a piece of sturdy fishing line, you can create a visually pleasing hanging decoration. Consider adding other types of materials to your wind chime to create a variety of sounds, such as shells or even wine bottles.


Creating hardwood flooring with old barrel staves will provide your home with a rustic look. The fact that each stave will look different and may even have traditional stamps or relics of wine stains on them will make your floor unlike any other. If you do not want your whole floor to be lined with barrel staves, start by making a small mat or rug out of wood. To do this on your own is a challenge. Since the staves are steam bent to form the barrel, they must be steam treated again to become flat enough for flooring. Talk to a local woodworker, hardware store or wood craftsman to see if they can provide you with tips or lend you the proper steamer equipment.


Some drums, from countries like Japan, Korea, India and Thailand, are actually called barrel drums because of their shape. If you have the spirit of a percussionist, take after the Taiko Club at Stanford University and convert an old oak barrel into a drum. The Club disassembled the barrel and reglued the staves to give the drum a wider diameter. They inserted some pieces inside the barrel for sound quality and covered the top with cowhide. Experiment with different drum sizes and inserts and observe the differences in sounds each drum produces.

© Demand Media 2011