Barrel Care & Hoop Nailing

All of our wine and whiskey barrels come to us directly from the winery, distillery, or brewery in which they were last used, occasionally still dripping a little and smelling amazing! All wet wood swells, and all dry wood shrinks. In our dry Arizona climate, barrels, and wood in general will shrink over time which is natural. Wine barrels are generally made with two small nails into the stave/wood per hoop/ring, for a total of about 12 nails per barrel. Whiskey barrels typically do not have their hoops secured to the barrel at all. This means that when left outdoors without any additional care, wine barrels will eventually become wobbly and may have a hoop fall out of place. Whiskey barrels left outdoors without any additional care may have their hoops fall off all together. Barrels kept indoors in air conditioning do not shrink as much but may shrink some. Being a natural wood product, each barrel may shrink a little differently than the next.

Options for caring for your barrel include:

  • Keep it hydrated with water inside, a sprinkler, or throwing it in a swimming pool now and then. This isn’t practical for most folks.
  • Secure the hoops to the staves with self-drilling screws. This is probably the easiest way to secure the hoops for long term stability but some folks may not like the appearance of hex head self-drilling screws on the side of their barrel.
  • Drill holes in the hoops and add your preference of screws or nails to the hoops. This is more work but results in better appearance.
  • Have us nail the hoops for you. We’ll add 50+ extra galvanized nails, similar to those used when the barrels were made, to the hoops of each barrel. This will keep the barrel sturdy over time regardless of any shrinking that the staves do. If you plan on sanding and adding a finish to your barrel we DO NOT recommend that you have us nail the hoops as the nails will destroy your sandpaper and make your finishing process more difficult. You may also wish to skip this service and let your barrel finish shrinking on its own, then tighten and secure the hoops yourself as described below. This will eliminate any gaps between staves that may open up while the barrel shrinks.

    Have a barrel that’s already wobbly or has sagging hoops? No need to worry. Simply remove any existing screws or nails that are in the hoops and tighten the barrel back up by driving the hoops towards the center of the barrel. Don’t feel like doing it yourself? If you can get your old wobbly barrel to us in one piece, we can probably get it fixed for you.