Our high expectations and eye for quality at Barrels Direct means we often have barrels that just don’t make the cut. Creators of fine spirits, wines, and beer all demand and deserve the best quality oak available, on a time frame that fits their busy production schedules.
So what happens to a barrel bootcamp dropout? The River Drive Millwork shop.
We were approached by Signal Snowboards and the crew from the “Every Third Thursday” (ETT) YouTube show. Every month, or third Thursday to be exact, their show creates a snowboard out of wild, crazy, and unique material. Turning a round wooden barrel into a flat snowboard seemed so wild, crazy, and unique we couldn’t say no. But they still wanted to up the ante a bit. Signal wanted more than just a barrel, so a few phone calls later we were all Tennessee bound to the home of Jack Daniels!
The storyline was simple; Show everyone how Jack Daniels makes barrels, makes whiskey, and then how we’re going to make a snowboard from one of their barrels that aged the whiskey. In hindsight the snowboard build might have been easier if we saved the distillery tour and tasting until the end… or maybe that was the key ingredient? Either way, the crew at Jack was on-board (see what I did there?) and after some amazing Tennessee hospitality we were Southern California bound, headed to the Signal factory.
Making anything out of barrels is a difficult task. A flat board that needs to carry a human down a snow covered mountain is no easier.
Back in the Signal shop, armed with a barrel, snowboard manufacturing equipment, and some good old fashioned cooperage tools, we went to work. Disassembling and sorting the barrel, stave by stave. We hand picked each and every piece. Precision was key, as we looked for specific figures, markings, and wood grain for each layer.
Less than 1/2” thick on average, snowboards are actually made up of 3 main layers along with layers of fiberglass and resin.1/2” divided by 3 equals less than 0.2” per layer. If you’re good at math you may recognize now that a round barrel + 1” thick staves does not equal 0.2” thick layers of flat board. But, we like challenges and off to work we went. Staves were carefully trimmed square, fine sliced like deli meat, and sanded to thicknesses we could only measure with calipers.
Two of the three main layers of the board were to be made from Whiskey Wood®; The core and topsheet. The core is traditionally made from wood and provides the general strength and flexibility of the board, however the wood used for this is usually a light soft wood, not quarter sawn white oak. Right off the bat this added weight and limited flexibility a little, but it was by no means a set back. We still knew this was going to be the best Whiskey Barrel Snowboard in the world because, well, we weren’t sure there was any other. So at least we had that. The second layer of this board to be made from Whiskey Wood® was the topsheet. This is was the most important part aesthetically because it would all be visible.
Very carefully we trimmed the paper thin pieces of barrel so the Jack Daniels logo would show proud. The layers were set, resin was poured, and the board was pressed. After all this travel, amazing experiences, fine craftsmanship, and a few taco breaks (we were in Southern California, remember), all the was left was to wait for the resin to cure. Then like a bunch a proud parents in a delivery room, the finished board was revealed. And she was beautiful.
Custom Barrel Projects
Our Signal Snowboard from a Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey barrel is just one example of the unique work we create for our customers. We’ve customized tables, seats, planters, home bars, wardrobes, benches, and so much more. Our products showcases the variations in barrels and the aging process through the use of charred barrels, vintage barrels, and boards showcasing the marks of distilleries and wineries.
We are happy work with you on turning a barrel into something fun or functional, whatever you desire! We’re always excited about a challenge and we love using our technical knowledge and cooperage skills to customize a barrel project for our clients. Contact us to talk about your unique idea!