Our tutorial on how to make wine barrel furniture – a beautiful oak wooden DIY wine barrel tray from the top of an oak wine barrel. A step-by-step guide to a DIY wine barrel tray!
How to Make Wine Barrel Furniture
This tutorial is written by Claudio, who was born in Brazil and has been living in New Zealand. He is an electrician by trade, but after working in the Marlborough wine industry, he developed a passion for making wine barrel furniture.
Claudio started with a couple of barrels, having decided he wanted to create some decorative wine barrel furniture for his own backyard. He decided on a set of chairs and a coffee table.
Friends told him his wine barrel furniture was good enough to sell, and a wine barrel furniture business was born.
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Claudio has gone on to create many different pieces from wine barrels, from chairs to tables, serving trays, fruit bowls, bar and bar stools, corner shelves, and more.
Claudio even restored an old 1800s Chariot kerosene lantern, turning it into an LED lamp lantern with rimu wood and wine barrel boards.
We very much hope he will share his tutorial for this with us in a future article! Let us know in the comments if you want to see it too.
Wine Barrel Tray Tutorial
- Choose an oak wine barrel and remove the flat round top. I chose a wine barrel that had had red wine in it because it is a very nice, naturally stained, reddish brown color.
2. Take all the pieces of the top of the oak wine barrel apart, piece-by-piece. These are like tongue and groove boards and are not stuck together.
3. Clean all the tongue and groove boards and glue them back together like a puzzle so they fit perfectly.
4. Put a clamp on these boards to make sure the boards are stuck very tightly together.
Place one heavy iron bar under and one iron bar over the top of the platter and clamp these together so the boards of the platter cannot warp or bow. Leave the clamps on overnight.
5. Undo the clamps the next day.
6. Sand the top and bottom of the tray. Sand it with 120-grade sandpaper first, which is medium-grade. This grade is rough enough to sand but not too rough so it damages the top of the oak wine barrel tray.
7. Next, sand the wine barrel tray with 240-grade sandpaper to smooth the wood on both the top and bottom.
8. Buy a pair of handles that you like the look of from a DIY shop. These types of handles are usually used for kitchens, bathrooms, cabinet handles, or furniture draws.
9. Measure where the handles need to go so they are even on both sides of your oak wine barrel tray.
10. Drill 4 holes, 2 on each side of the platter where you have marked them. Attach the door handles to the sides of the tray.
11. Attach your handles by screwing them on from underneath the tray.
How to Make Small Legs for Your Oak Wine Barrel Tray
- Choose a small piece of matching oak board.
- Using a miter saw or similar to cut 2 strips of wood about 7mm high and 250mm long.
- Attach these legs to the bottom of the platter, under the handles. Place the legs over the handle screw holes so you no longer see them.
- Screw the legs in place.
Wine Barrel Tray Finishing
I put my stamp (see photo) into the platter at this stage. You can skip this process, or you can add your own stamp or decoration at this stage.
How to Stain a Wine Barrel Tray
I recommend you use tung oil for finishing the wine barrel tray. Tung oil is a natural drying oil imported from China and South America and is considered by many craftsmen to be the very best finishing oil for wooden furniture and other wooden pieces.
Tung oil doesn’t sit on the surface of your wood, as many other oils do, but it penetrates deep into the wood and cures it. It soaks into the wood fibers so it actually becomes part of the wood, creating a stunning low-gloss finish.
It makes the wood very resistant to moisture and is perfect for a piece of furniture like a serving tray – it can even handle alcoholic drinks!
Note though – Not all tung oil is tung oil!
Make sure you buy one that is 100% tung oil, as lots of other products sold as “tung oil” are actually not tung oil at all. We recommend Hope’s 100% Tung Oil, it is one of the few we trust as being proper, untainted Tung oil.
Note: before applying Tung oil, make sure all existing finishes are removed. If there is wax, grease, or polish left, the oil cannot penetrate into the wood and it won’t work as well as it could. On unfinished wood, just follow the simple instructions on the label!
Apply 4-6 coats of oil until your project piece starts to look shiny.
During the staining process, use very fine sandpaper to buff between coats of stain to make the wood really shine.
Wine Barrel Tray Uses
There are so many uses for your very elegant/rustic oak wine barrel tray, we couldn’t possibly list them all, but here’s a list of suggestions:
- Great oak tray for the BBQ for salads, breads, etc.
- Great as a tray to carry all your stuff outdoors.
- Great tray for fruit on your veranda or outside table.
- Nice tray for candles and other decorations.
- Perfect as a drinks tray.
- Handy tray for the kids’ food and drinks.
- Tray to take food out to parties.
- I’m sure you can think of another 25 ways to use this fabulous wine barrel tray!
About Making Wine Barrel Furniture
This wine barrel tray tutorial was created by Claudio, here is his story as to how he came to make this tray and how to make wine barrel furniture.
I am Brazilian born and I have been living in New Zealand for the past decade and a half. I’m an electrician and as my hobby, I make furniture from wine barrels.
I used to work in the wine industry in Marlborough and have some contacts for sourcing the barrels at a good price. Marlborough produces some of the best Sauvignon Blanc!
I always liked to make things out of wood and I spent many hours in my garage working and using tools and proudly finishing projects.
I bought a couple of barrels to make some decorative wine barrel furniture for my own backyard and I decided to make a set of wine barrel chairs and a coffee table.
I spent many hours in the garage thinking and working out how to make wine barrel furniture. After a couple of weeks, my first garden set of a table and 2 chairs was made.
How to Make Wine Barrel Furniture – Table and Chairs
Using a half barrel for each seat and timber from an old sofa I found in the middle of a vineyard, I borrowed a jigsaw from the company I used to work for and made some gauges and templates to make it easier to measure, cut, and assemble it together.
After it was completed, it became my pride and joy in our backyard and when all my friends came around, they were very impressed and suggested it was good enough to try marketing it on the internet.
I took some pictures and tried to sell them but after a few weeks, no one had offered me a good price.
I don’t know why I decided to put it back for sale one last time and believe it or not, I sold it for $500. That was my prototype and I have sold many of these sets since then for $1000.
My next step after this was to buy more barrels and make more oak table and chair sets and sell them on the website.
I also bought proper tools to reduce the working time and make my work more efficient. I began to buy decking boards from a woodshop to make the seat part of the chair and I sold a few more sets.
The buyers were very happy and they gave me amazing feedback.
Everything was going well but I wasn’t happy with using decking boards from a hardware store to finish up the chairs, because they had very different characteristics than the oak barrel wood, so I started to look for some different alternatives.
One Saturday, I visited a local garage sale where they were selling rimu wood from a dismantled shed. I bought a whole lot of rimu boards and ever since then, I have never used new lumber from a hardware store again.
I now always source secondhand hardwood which goes well with my oak.
A few months later, I was looking for more wood and I found a guy who was demolishing an old church. He had all the rimu flooring in a container, ready for sale.
After a long talk and a good Brazilian bargain, I bought the whole lot of prime rimu tongue and groove flooring and that wood was the best wood I ever bought.
Each set I made was an improvement on the last one and I bought better tools to make better quality wine barrel furniture.
In 2017, I participated in a Home and Garden Expo and this gave me an opportunity to have a photo and article in the local newspaper, giving us great marketing exposure.
My wife and I traveled all around, delivering our oak wine barrel table and 2 seat sets and making friends everywhere.
The first time we delivered a wine barrel furniture set was a cool experience. We had this Honda Odyssey and I thought I could fit 2 sets into it.
After an exhausting few hours, I managed to fit the furniture into the van, then we traveled down south on the east coast to a town called Cromwell in Central Otago, NZ.
We delivered the oak wine barrel furniture set and drove back up the West Coast of the South Island, enjoying the amazing views all along the coast.
As the shipping costs were almost the same as us driving the truck to deliver our wine barrel furniture sets, we chose to do the delivery ourselves and had many adventures and got to see many parts of beautiful NZ.
I want to tell you about the wine barrel furniture sets as I’m quite proud of how I have developed them as I went along and changed them as my ideas evolved.
Wine Barrel Furniture Sets
In the first set, the seat was a removable part and very heavy, and the coffee table wasn’t made from wine barrel wood.
With the second set, I tried to carve into the boards to fit the seat part into it but that didn’t work, I did not have a spare barrel to replace the damaged one.
I had to come up with an idea and, bingo, there it was… use the metal band that is around the barrel to keep it together when it is filled with wine, to cover up the damaged area.
I cut one of these metal bands in half and inserted and nailed it from the inside of the backrest of the seat, covering my mistake and these metal bands became a permanent detail for all the wine barrel seats.
The third set, I sold to a guy in Auckland and he liked it so much that he gave me awesome feedback on the website:
It makes me smile every time I see it!
He sent me pictures of the set on his deck, I am still using those pictures to sell my wine barrel furniture sets!
I have also donated a few sets of wine barrel furniture sets to some charities like the Cancer Society, Rescue Helicopters, Kaikoura Earthquakes, and others, which helped them and, in return, I received more exposure with many people seeing them and some winning them in competitions.
It has been 5 years since I made the first set. I’ve spent many happy hours tinkering in my shed and I have all the best gear now so I can make my wine barrel furniture sets so much more efficiently and of better quality now.
I’m always thinking of something new so I have made some offcut wine barrel pieces into fabulous BBQ platters, fruit bowls, a bar table, bar stools, a corner shelf, a pulpit, etc. I was pretty happy with how they turned out and I have sold or gifted all of them.
I also restored an old 1800s Chariot kerosene lantern into an LED lamp lantern with rimu and wine barrel boards but that is another story and I will tell you how I did it in another article.
My Facebook page, where you can see more photos of my wine barrel furniture, is Barrels Art NZ.
Let me know which wine barrel furniture tutorial you want to see next in the comments below!
Thanks for reading, Claudio Chaves