Around the 13th century B.C., the Celts in communities around Northern Europe developed the wooden barrel for transporting goods through Europe. Today, wooden barrels are used almost exclusively for the production of wine and spirits. Cylindrical in shape and made from white oak which imparts complexity to the flavor of wines, the Bordeaux type 59 gallon barrels are used around the U.S. for storage of wine. With some work and a little creativity, these barrels can be converted into chairs and tables to add an unusual and interesting touch to dens and recreation rooms in your home.
Select two used 59 gallon wine barrels since they are less expensive than new ones, and choose ones in good condition. Use one for the table and the other for a chair. Take a sponge or cloth and wash the inside and outside of the barrel with warm soapy water. Allow the barrels to dry completely. Remove the rivets which are used to secure the staves with a rivet removal tool. Slide the staves off the barrels and set aside the rivets and staves.
Measure 5 inches up from the bottom of the first barrel with a tape measure and with a black marker place a mark on this spot. Continue marking the entire circumference of this barrel. Find the height of the second barrel by measuring from the top to the bottom of the barrel, then divide this measurement in half to find the center of the barrel. Place a mark at the center of the barrel and continue marking around the entire circumference of this barrel. Saw both barrels horizontally with a hand saw along the marks indicated. Use the taller barrel for the table and the shorter one for a chair.
Sand the outside of both barrels first with a 120 to 150 medium grit sandpaper and finish the sanding with a finer grained sandpaper such as 180 to 200 fine grit. Remove the fine dust from the sanding with a damp sponge and check to make sure that the barrels are completely free of dust particles.
Apply a light oak-colored stain or any stain that you prefer with a paint brush, over the entire outside of both barrels. Follow the directions shown on the stain as to the drying time. Apply a clear coat of varnish over the stain with a different brush, to give the wood a glossy look and let it dry completely. Apply another coat of varnish if you feel it is necessary.
Sand the metal staves down with a coarse sandpaper. Remove all traces of dust with a damp cloth and paint the staves the color of your choice. Allow the staves to dry and place them back onto the barrel. Secure the staves with new rivets painted the same color as the staves.
Purchase a 1/2-inch thick piece of oak that is 24 inches in diameter wider than the top of your taller barrel. Sand the cut edges of the wood with medium 120 to 150 grit sandpaper and remove all traces of dust from the wood with a damp sponge or cloth. Use a brush to apply a coat of varnish to the top, bottom and outside edges of the wood and allow it to dry completely.
Place the oak slab of wood on the head or top of the taller barrel and center it. Hammer it on using the nails spaced every 8 inches around the table top, securing the table top to your wine barrel. Purchase a colorful round cushion from a home furnishing store, and place it on the top of the shorter barrel to create a comfortable seat. Enjoy your new wine barrel table and chair.