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Getting Ready to Build the World's Largest Cherry Wood Wine Barrel

Real wood wine barrels are usually made of white oak, but I had something more decorative in mind. I suggested to Bob that we timber some cherry from a wood lot that had been in his family for many years. I knew that the lot was becoming overgrown and the cherry was in danger to succumbing to red rot and other diseases that befall trees in a dark, overgrown forest. I suggested to Bob that this would really help the lot and provide a 'legacy' for his children to remember and prize. Bob agreed, and soon I was on a plane to N.Y. to meet with a logger and pick the trees to be cut.

We needed around sixty staves at about 18' long and 12" wide and that is a tall order for cherry because there aren't many large ones around anymore. Matt Smith, the logger was very wood savvy and together we picked trees that would work for the various elements we wanted and arranged to cut and ship them to a mill in northern New York state. We also cut some fine yellow birch to have sawn into timbers for the wine cellar. I then had to wait for the logging, shipping, sawing, kiln drying and shipment of the final rough-sawn lumber to Colorado.

While waitingto receive the material I located shop space large enough to erect the barrel as well as to store the other material and equipment necessary to build it. I hired Rich Gruber, an excellent woodworker from Evergreen, Colorado, to help get the project started. Our first task was building a floor system to hold the 'bending bulk-heads I designed to fabricate the barrel on. These were cut by a great CNC (Computer Notated Cutting) company in Denver.

 Image of floor system and wood bending bulkheads.

The openings were for us to access the inside of the barrel.

 Finally, the wood arrived! The first task was to sort the material into that which we would use for the barrel, wine cellar and beams.




Picture of custom cut hardwood lumber as delivered for the wine barrel project.

A plethora of cherry! It then had to be sorted, graded and stacked in accordance with its intended use.  The pile on the left (below) was the long material specifically cut for the barrel. The pile on the right would eventually become the wine racks and the middle pile would become hand-hewn beams for the wine cellar.


Pictrure of cherry hardood stacked in woodworking shop.

Most of Load #1 stickered (stacked with wood strips between each row which allow air flow around the wood) in our shop.

This allows for further drying and acclimation to the dry air of Colorado. We are now ready to go to work on the milling and bending of the 'barrel staves'.


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