Monday, 23 July 2012

Barrel (Scratchbuild How to)

I haven´t built a complete barrel for years but Anne from Annes Attic asked recently " Do you have any creative ideas for how to make one using something I'd find around the house?"
Firstly I thought to use the method for the Tonnelon but this would mean restricting the size of the barrel to any available perfume bottle tops or I went back to a method I´ve used in the past. A bit time consuming but it means that it´s made from something that anyone can find around the house..cardboard.
The following "how to" looks long and involved but it really isn´t. You can produce a "one off" barrel to the size of your choice in less than an hour.
The measurements I give are not fixed but only for reference.
The end result.

What´s needed? A pen, a ruler, scissors, a compass,  some thin card (like the stuff from a cereal box) and some PVA glue
Mark out a circle on a sheet of card. I´ve chosen 6cm´s  and 8cms. These are basically the top and bottom of the barrel. The other two lines (about 3mm´s) above and below these lines are explained later. Obviously the distance, between the two liness and from the centre point will determine the end height and width of the barrel. A exact formula as to how to measure this out to make a certain sized barrel I cannot´s a bit trial and error on the first one, then you can adjust the sizes to suit.
Cut out a section .(about 1/4 of the circle) between the 8 and 6cm lines, leaving off the extra 3mm´s and fold as in the pic. Here you can alter the slope of the barrel. The tighter you overlap the section, the less the angle,  the fatter or tinner the barrel. Apparently roughly 5 degrees from vertical is a usual angle for a barrel. Use this section to mark off and cut out another section for the other half of the barrel. . Mark a line where the overlap comes and use this as a stencil to mark the second section so the overlaps are as near the same. These two "cones" will form the top and bottom halves of the barrel.

Place the two "cones" smallest side down onto some card and smear some PVA along the insides. Let this dry and then cut the outer excess card away. 

Before glueing the tow "cones" use one of them again as a template to mark off twice the length onto the remaining circle on the card. Measure the outside (the line 3mm above the 8cm line) I did this using a piece of spare card. measure and divide the length. I used 1cm divisions as the barrel here  was 11 cm´s long.
I´ve now marked 22 sections @ 1cm along the outside line and joined these lines up to the center point. Each section, when cut out will form the barrel staves. These could be divided into 1/2 cm sections which would give thinner staves.
Glue thin strips of card to the small ends of the "cones" to make the barrel lids. When dry trim of the excess.
Cut out the Staves. The top 3mm you don´t need but retain the bottom 3 mm at the smallest end. Curve them slightly to fit by pressing them over a round surface such as  a pen.
Glue the staves onto the cones. Basically glue the first stave along the edge of the joint fomed when glueing the cones together, then the next one with a tiny gap and so on. The bottom of the stave should be flush with the bottom of the cone and 3mm above the top. Make sure the staves of each half line up.(see top picture) The last stave will inevitably have to be cut  smaller than the rest as each time a stave is added you leave a small gap to give a 3D impression on seperate pieces. This is the same with real barrels where sometimes you will see a bigger or alternated small and big staves used. Another rarely use all the staves intended..I marked out for ten but have only used nine. When dry, glue the two halves together.

Cut some strips using the left over outer rings (the 3mm above and below the 8 and 6cm lines) These will form the 4 top and bottom barrel hoops.  Also cut one strip about 4mm wide for the middle hoop.  Work them a bit so they start to form hoops naturally when left lying. I do this in the same way you´d make curled ribbons for a present decoration..
Measure these against the barrel and glue together, making sure to observe which way up they are finally to go as they are now slightly conical. The two rings on the left of the picture are slightly smaller than the two on the left. As a rule of thumb; if the two smaller rings fit inside the bigger ones then they are the right size.
Simply glue the hoops onto the barrel and paint.
If I was going to make a lot of barrels I would use plastic card or greenstuff and them make a mold of the thing and cast as many as I wanted..but for a one off (for a dio or whatever) I wouldn´t bother. 


  1. Thank you Paul. I'm doing this as a one off for when I build Shenanigans Pub. I'm posting my first scratch-built scenery and I got one of the techniques I used from a tutorial of yours. I will of course include a link to that post.

  2. Simple but very effective. Might give it a try

  3. This is why us mere mortals buy them, that was brilliant work!

  4. Thanks for the not-so-involved tutorial. Now I can go take a couple of Tylenol and lay down. Nevertheless, a great vision and craftsmanship!

  5. that is a very nice tutorial paul. Now I might make some and have a few in Oronegro

  6. Superb piece of coopering; it is amazing what you can do with a bit of cardboard!

  7. I've been thinking on how to do it... I should have done what Anne did: ask Paul!! :D

  8. Very good! They look very effective!!

  9. very good work, useful tutorial. TX!!!

  10. Very nice and usefull tuto Paul! Thanks for sharing!