Square barrels??

Treatment and handling of your distillate.

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Virginia Gentleman
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Square barrels??

Post by Virginia Gentleman » Wed Jun 15, 2005 5:26 am

My partner in crime in distilling is a great wood worker/carpenter. He thinks making a barrel from scratch would be pretty tough, but that making a "barrel box" from white oak would be a cinch. Any thoughts on why this would or wouldn't work for aging? Maybe a 1-2 gal. oak box that should seal fairly tight once it expands with liquid, and a top that closes to keep it sealed up.

It seems barrels are round because A) you get a good seal between the staves as they're exposed to liquid and expand, B) for transportation, easier to roll a 50 gal. barrel than drag a 50 gal. box around and C) for storage.
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Yttrium
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Post by Yttrium » Wed Jun 15, 2005 6:12 am

I've been looking into barrels and charring recently and I do remember reading something about oak boxes not producing as good of a final product. Of course, it seems that this may have been a bit of misinformation.
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KatoFong
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Post by KatoFong » Wed Jun 15, 2005 7:16 am

I would think that as an oak box swells and warps, you'd actually lose any seal you had at the corners. Barrels work because as they swell, the circular shape ensures that the staves will not only press against each other, but press evenly, as well. Squares don't warp in quite the same way as circles.

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Post by The Chemist » Wed Jun 15, 2005 7:39 am

Vernon Singleton had quite a bit to say about this in Chemistry of Winemaking in the Advances in Chemistry Series, #137. Basically, the surface to volume ratio is greater with a cube than a sphere, with a barrel being somewhere in between. Also, smaller volume barrels, or boxes will have a greater surface to volume ratio. Taken togather, this would mean that you would age for a shorter period in a smaller container than a larger, and for a shorter period in a squarish container than a roundish. Also, I'm no woodworker, but I think KatoFong makes a good point about the "tightness" of the different shapes.
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Virginia Gentleman
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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Wed Jun 15, 2005 7:59 am

Good point, KatoFong, a real potential problem. I kind of had that problem when I used a wood box to age some homemade hot sauce (think Tabasco, made with tabasco peppers I grew, vinegar and salt).

On the other hand, apparently it has indeed been tried before:

Image

http://www.whiskyfun.com/ArchiveOctober04-1.html

Scroll down to the Oct. 11 entry.

An added plus re surface area : volulme, Chemist. But leaking is no good.
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Post by KatoFong » Wed Jun 15, 2005 8:41 am

Wonder if it worked. Notice, though, that they used a greater number of metal bands, and they used them at the corners. If your friend/partner-in-crime makes this for you, you'll need to make sure it is restrained in this fashion. That way, as the wood swells, it will be forced to swell inward, toward the other staves, rather than separating.

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Post by Yttrium » Wed Jun 15, 2005 9:21 am

I did some checking and there is now a Swiss company that sells square barrels. The main advantage to the square barrels is that you can supposedly get 3 times as storage capacity in the same area.
The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves. --John Conner

DBM

Oak box

Post by DBM » Wed Jun 15, 2005 10:31 am

Watch Gun Smoke tonight, somebody will probably wash his face or water his horse out of just what you are talking about. Probably a bit longer than you need though.

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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Wed Jun 15, 2005 11:36 am

Gun Smoke, huh, go figger.

Nothing to do but try it. Off we go.
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Post by Grayson_Stewart » Wed Jun 15, 2005 12:42 pm

the problem with a square box is that as the wood swells, there is greater pressure forcing the planks together. The bands will keep the wood from bowing out...but there is nothing preventing the boards from collapsing back inward with a simple tap. A barrel is round AND the boards have thickness so the pressure is distributed like an archway.

And with a great deal of pressure it's going to be "instant failure". As an example, carefully stand on an empty aluminum soda can with all your weight and then tap the side of the can with a stick...be careful and not break a leg because you will come down fast.
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Post by KatoFong » Wed Jun 15, 2005 1:00 pm

Let us know how it goes, VG.

Virginia Gentleman
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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Wed Jun 15, 2005 1:27 pm

That makes sense for the larger barrels, Grayson, but for the size we're talking (1-2 gal.) hopefully it won't be an issue.

Should have some results in a month or two.
Lord preserve and protect us, we've been drinkin' whiskey 'fore breakfast.

Guest

Post by Guest » Wed Jun 15, 2005 2:44 pm

Thanks men, that's given me a great idea;
I'm going to see if I can invent square wheels for my push bike so I can go faster and catch those red herrings I love !

There's a great artical in the "Distillers forum" about the sience of how barrels work.

regards

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Post by Brett » Wed Jun 15, 2005 3:20 pm

just make a path like so

VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV

making sure the size of the V is the same as one diagonal half of ur bike :lol:

Guest

Post by Guest » Wed Jun 15, 2005 5:25 pm

What ! more work for no gain.

Virginia Gentleman
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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Thu Jun 16, 2005 11:55 am

Hey Guest, I've got a better idea. Why don't you make a gigantic still out of plastic (I know how you feel about copper) and then shove the whole thing straight up your ass.

Really, I've refrained from replying to your posts, why don't you do me the same favor especially if your only purpose is to take shots at me.
Lord preserve and protect us, we've been drinkin' whiskey 'fore breakfast.

Guest

Post by Guest » Sat Jun 18, 2005 12:24 am

Hmmm, ,,,,,,very insecure there VG. A lot of assumptions on your part. Why don't you live by your handle, hardly the way for a "gentle man " to speak, unless of course you are living a lie and grabbed a handle beyond your station.

I am eagerly awaiting the results of your experiment. Please don't hesitate to post them.

(by the way I decided to not waste my time on the square wheels; even with the advantage of the VVVVVV track: better things to do !!)

But I do respect your musical interests and talents.

Virginia Gentleman
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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Sat Jun 18, 2005 5:23 am

Alright, I'll ease up, but try being a gentleman yourself. All you had to say was "barrels have been made round for centuries for a good reason. But if you want to try a different approach, it sounds interesting, let us know how it goes. I'm not very optimistic, but can't hurt to try."

Instead of trying to be cute and insulting about it. Read the rest of the posts in this topic, that's essentially what everyone else said. Or just don't reply if that's the only way you operate.

The point is, if my friend and I can make a 1 gal. container from $10 worth of oak, and it takes him an hour to do it, that could be a lot better than buying a new 1 gal. barrel for $80. And we'll learn trying. Might be a complete waste of time, but I'm interested enough to try.

Thanks for the complement on the music. Love the bluegrass. Sex, Drugs and Flatt & Scruggs.
Lord preserve and protect us, we've been drinkin' whiskey 'fore breakfast.

Guest

Post by Guest » Sat Jun 18, 2005 4:48 pm

That's all sweet VG, thanks for your words.

It's just that Aussies tend to be able to rib their mates prety hard without any offence been taken. Infact it's often a sign of endearment between mates.

I have noticed that Americans are always ready with the compliments and are polite to everyone. just different cultural norms I would say.

However I will try to temper my words to more accurately fit the culture I am addressing.

regards

Virginia Gentleman
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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Sun Jun 19, 2005 1:57 am

Thanks Guest, my apologies for mouthing off as well, and I'm really not as thinned skinned as it might appear. Let's just leave it at that and move on, and get back to discussing our great hobby. We just have different approaches to posting here.

It's all chicken but the bone, as my dad would say.

Well, it being father's day I've got the day off to canoe a nearby river and fish for smallmouth bass and drink beer all day. Talk to ya later.
Lord preserve and protect us, we've been drinkin' whiskey 'fore breakfast.

level Joe
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Post by level Joe » Sun Jun 19, 2005 9:36 am

Just one more idea you might want to consider. An octagonal barrel, 22 1/2 degrees on the table saw and you’ve got half the stress at the joints. How thick is the stock are you thinking of using(5/4)? And, yes, please post the results.
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Post by level Joe » Sun Jun 19, 2005 9:38 am

Hey "Guest", what do your "mates" call you?
Salus populi suprema est lex. [L.] The safety of the people is the highest law.

Virginia Gentleman
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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Sun Jun 19, 2005 10:13 am

level Joe wrote:Just one more idea you might want to consider. An octagonal barrel, 22 1/2 degrees on the table saw and you’ve got half the stress at the joints. How thick is the stock are you thinking of using(5/4)? And, yes, please post the results.
That's a pretty sharp idea, Joe. That could work very well without having to perfect true barrel making. Yeah, 5/4 stock, or close to it I imagine.
Lord preserve and protect us, we've been drinkin' whiskey 'fore breakfast.

Guest

Post by Guest » Sun Jul 03, 2005 2:19 pm

here's an idea

instead of just a square box, since it might be harder to make seal, try making it with 8 sides. should press into a seal if you band it like a barrel, but a lot less peices.

haven't actually tried this, but made a planter with that shape once, it was pretty easy

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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Mon Jul 11, 2005 1:05 am

Anonymous wrote:here's an idea

instead of just a square box, since it might be harder to make seal, try making it with 8 sides. should press into a seal if you band it like a barrel, but a lot less peices.

haven't actually tried this, but made a planter with that shape once, it was pretty easy
Yup, that's kinda what Level Joe suggested. A little more work, but should help it stay tight. Should have a new batch in a couple of weeks, so hope to try it out.
Lord preserve and protect us, we've been drinkin' whiskey 'fore breakfast.

jbrew9999

Post by jbrew9999 » Tue Oct 18, 2005 5:48 am

Any results from that square barrel?

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Post by Grayson_Stewart » Tue Oct 18, 2005 11:58 am

My five gallon glass carboys filled with toasted and charred white oak are much easier to pick up, move around the house, and shake the hell out of it to help speed the process.
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Post by Virginia Gentleman » Wed Oct 19, 2005 1:43 am

First off, I agree THM the design of the standard barrel is pretty close to perfect and time-tested.

But who said my idea was a drunken brainstorm? Just thinking outside (or inside, really) the box. As you can see above, it's even been done commercially before. And I do think it's viable for smaller (1-5 gal.) barrels (though not better than a round barrel). That said, I haven't tried it yet, and actually have a 2 gal. commercial barrel ordered and on the way.

I've worked a good bit with chips, chunks, strips and I agree they give great results and I'll continue to use them. But the barrel is special and is getting some special whiskey put in it. It's gonna sit in an old shack that heats & cools all day, through the seasons for at least a year.
Lord preserve and protect us, we've been drinkin' whiskey 'fore breakfast.

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Post by LeftLaneCruiser » Wed Oct 19, 2005 11:52 am

I've read this thread for the last months and decided to respond.
I think it's about a year ago now when my father decided to make me a barrel out of pieces of oak. He is quite handy with a table-saw, you know.
he nade a barrel out of 16 staves, cut with the according angle on the saw. I tried and make some bands out of stainless steel to get the staves tied together. Unfortunatily the barrel leaked like a sieve. For the info; it was a cilindrical barrel, rectangular in crosssection.
We tried to glue the staves together, fill the gaps with silicone.. But nothing worked. The barrel still leaks. Today it survives as a decorational element somewhere in the house. Only good for planting some hops or whatever in ;)

That's my story.. I hope to make a barrel, box or whatever, someday to hold my distillate in. Untill that day i age my distillates in a carboy with chips, shavingws and other pieces of oak.

My intent is not to discourage anyone of you to make your own barrel. It's just my story of what happened when we tried to do so.


KJH

jbrew9999

Post by jbrew9999 » Wed Oct 19, 2005 12:03 pm

Thanks for the info, KJH.

Where were the leaks? the ends?

Did the bands not hold?

How long did you soak it before you gave up?

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