Thursday, November 12, 2015

More fun than a barrel full of monkeys!

If I let my imagination run wild, there would be all sorts of phrases I could use to describe this recent commission.

It was a barrel full of fun? 

I was over a barrel, trying to design it?

I finished it - lock, stock and barrel?

You get the idea!

A client contacted me, and then sent me this small, grainy photo of something he wanted me to build - a tabletop for a barrel that he had just purchased. 

But not just any barrel! 

A Crown Royal barrel! (I can't tell you how much attention this piece got in my shop!)

Making the top was easy– I selected some beautiful Oak boards to match the barrel,

and glued up a rough blank for the top.

Of course – using a router with a compass attachment is the best way to get a perfect circle. 

After the outside was cut, I did a test on a scrap piece of plywood, to find the correct diameter for the center hole. 

This was a perfect fit. 

And voilĂ  – the top fit perfectly on the barrel. 

It doesn't get much better than this. 

The harder part was coming up with the way to attach the top of the barrel. I saved some of the scraps from routing the table top, and planned on using them as supports.  But I didn't really like the way they looked.

 So I enlisted Hugo, a local metal fabricator who owns Vulcan Custom Iron Work and explained what I wanted - some rustic looking  brackets, so that I could bolt the top of the barrel and keep the rustic look of the metal  and  wood.  

Hugo is a pro, he knew exactly what I wanted. 

These brackets were beefy and strong, 

and fit the theme of this table perfectly.

The gentleman who commissioned this piece wanted the top finish to match the barrel, with its aged appearance. The best way to do that, in my opinion, is to soak some steel wool in vinegar, and paint it on the wood.

I let the mixture soak for a day or two,

 and then brushed it on a sample of the oak. 

Here it is, after soaking into the wood for about five minutes.

 Holy crap! Within an hour, the wood was ebonized almost a perfect black. Way too dark for what I needed! 

So I went back to the drawing board, and mixed up a highly diluted version of this. You can see this on my sample board on the right - the perfect proportion was 2 teaspoons of this mixture, added into a cup of straight vinegar. It turned to oak a beautiful aged gray color.

I applied to coat, and then sanded the top, adding some distressed marks and scraping in other areas, to simulate aging. Once I had it perfect, it was time to attach the top using those brackets that Hugo made.

There's a slight gap all the way around the barrel top, to allow the tabletop to expand and contract. I wanted to that gap to be uniform, so I added a few wedges to keep in place, and screwed everything together. 

It couldn't have worked out better! And here you have it - a gorgeous table, perfect for entertaining or doing shots of Crown Royal! 

Working on this was more fun than a barrel full of monkeys!


Vegas Lupe said...

Hi there Jamie! I have a question: Other than the distressed look and the diluted vinegar / steel wool mixture, did you add an extra finish to the table? i.e. Oil, or varnish, waterproofing etc. Or is the surface just left alone?

Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

Just beautiful, Jamie, the barrel owner must be thrilled! The brackets are perfect as well, good call on using those instead of wood.

Wood It Is! said...

Lupe - I applied two coats of wipe-on poly after the staining. I didn't want a thick, built-up finish, but rather - one that looked a little weathered and aged. It's perfect!