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March 14, 2017
A highly specialized and unique process, the assembly of oak barrels for wine, whiskey and other spirits is an age-old art, known as cooperage, dating back to ancient times. While we don't expect many readers to take up the trade, the process is too interesting to not talk about - especially since Aerosmith now offers a tool to pin the metal hoop holding an oak barrel together. Keep reading to learn more about the art of oak barrel assembly.
Work primarily done by hand, even in a time when modern machines dominate assembly, crafting an oak wine barrel starts with selection of the right wood. High-quality oak is assessed on a variety of criteria, including tree shape, growing conditions, wood texture, grain and tannin content. The wood must be hand split, then weathered outside for several years to reach optimal quality. Once ready, the wood is cut into staves, and prepared for the barrel assembly.
The staves that "make the cut," meeting the assembler's standards, are then formed inside a metal hoop, known as an assembly jig. Metal hoops are used to create a structural framework for the barrel, as the wood staves are formed together inside the metal bands through a process of heating and dampening the wood. The joints are sealed and tested, and the final metal hoop is eventually fixed into place.
Metal hoops are fixed into position through the hammering of a mallet. New technology now allows barrel makers the luxury of using a power fastening tool, such as the Aerosmith ST3025C steel pinner, to pin each metal band into the oak barrel staves. Hoop nails (wine barrel nails) hold the steel band, also known as a whiskey barrel hoop or wine barrel ring, into place. We recommend using Aerosmith FP012C pins with the ST3025C nailer.
While the original oak barrel artisans drove their pins by hand, tools such as the Aerosmith hoop nailer make it easier than ever to install oak barrel rings - reducing build time and improving efficiency.
Ready to build a barrel? Give us a shout if you need help.
~ The Team At Nail Gun Depot