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How to make a Pirate Rum / Gunpowder Barrel

Some Forum members may have seen this tutorial about three years ago on our website. However, I am posting it here because (1) it is so easy to make if you need a barrel for your display and (2) you will need a barrel if you want to make my “Drunken Pirate on a Barrel". If you want to add a Drunken Skeleton see this tutorial: http://www.halloweenforum.com/tutor...e-drunken-skeleton-pirate-sitting-barrel.html

For quite a while I had been looking for a wooden barrel to use in my Halloween Pirate Ship display. I had no luck finding any wooden wine or whisky barrels in the area where I live. I did fine wooden half barrels at local stores that are used for planters. However, at about $30 each and not complete, full size wooden barrels I felt these were not acceptable for what I wanted. Additionally, I finally realized the size and weight of full size wooden barrels would make them hard to move and store after Halloween.

While shopping with Wicket Grandma (aka my wife) she found a great replacement for genuine wooden wine / whisky barrels. At our local Wal-Mart store she found lightweight, plastic half-barrel planters with a wooden design. She suggested that I purchase two of these half-barrels and simply put them together to make a full size barrel for our pirate display. What a great idea! Who knew Wicked Grandma was so clever. The result was a fairly realistic looking wooden design barrel that is lightweight and, because it comes apart, it is easy to store after Halloween as they will stack together one half barrel inside the other. In fact you can stack several barrels together this way.

Here is the “how to” for the way I made this barrel.

Material and Tool List:

2 A Tools and Materials.jpg

1. 2 plastic half-barrel plastic planters with wooden design – about $19.00 each at Wal-Mart
2. 1 box of #6 ¾” self tapping screws - $6.00 at Lowe’s Hardware Store
3. 1 8’ plastic Screen Door Tight (yep that’s what it is called) – about $4.00 at Lowe’s Hardware Store
4. 1 can cheap flat black spray paint - $1.00 at Wal-Mart
5. 1 package of two-part epoxy glue or tube of gorilla glue (optional)
6. 1 piece of scrap ¼” plywood at least 18” X 18” square (optional to make wooden barrel top
7. Sandpaper and/or sander to sand options wooden top
8. 1 bottle each of brown, and black acrylic craft paint for wooden top - $2.00 per bottle at Wal-Mart
9. Measuring tape
10. Drill with Phillips head driver bit
11. 3 or 4 Clamps
12. Pencil
13. Straight edge
14. Tin snips or other appropriate tool to cut the plastic Screen Tight
15. Saber saw or similar cutting tool –(optional for cutting wood for wooden top)

Step 1: Measure the circumference of the inside of one of the plastic half barrels. You can calculate the circumference of the barrel using the mathematical formula C= π x d. In this case (the diameter of the barrel) is 20” and π (a constant) is 3.14 so C (circumference) = 3.14 x 20 or 61.3/8”

2 B circumference calc photo.jpg

Yep, you can sure do that. Or… you can just do what I did and use a string to wrap around the darn barrel then measure the length of the string. Glory Be….61 3/8”.

Step 2: Measure and mark 61 3/8” on the Screen Door Tight. Cut the Screen Door Tight at this mark. Don’t worry if it is just a little off. It won’t matter.

3 Measure Plastic Strip.jpg

Step 3: Using the pencil and straight edge make a line down the middle of the length of the 61 3/8” piece of plastic screen door tight. This will give you about 3/4 “ on each side of the line.

4 Mark Plastic Strip.jpg

Step 4: Secure the plastic screen door tight to the inside of one of the half barrels with the clamps. Check for fit. If it is a little long trim it to fit. If it is a little short don’t worry about it. The smooth side of the screen door tight should fit against the inside of the plastic half-barrel. The line you previously marked down the center of the length of the plastic screen door tight should be aligned with the top of the plastic half barrel.

5 Put Plastic Strip in Barrell.jpg

Step 5: When you are satisfied with the fit of the plastic screen door tight to the barrel it is time to secure the screen door tight to the barrel. Make sure the plastic screen door tight is secured to the barrel with the clamps and with the smooth side next to the barrel. Be sure the pencil line in the center of the screen door tight is aligned with the top of the barrel. Using the drill, Phillips head drill bit, and self-tapping screws secure the plastic screen door tight to the barrel by driving the screws through the barrel and into the screen door tight. In the alternative, if you do not want any screw head showing you can use the optional epoxy or gorilla glue to secure the plastic screen door tight to the barrel. However, this will require some drying time before you can proceed.

5 Screw Plastic Strip 3.jpg

Step 6: Turn the second plastic half barrel upside down and fit it onto the top of the first barrel. You do not need to secure the top barrel to the plastic screen door tight if you do not wish. It will lift off for easy storage or you may secure it with screws if you wish. Paint the screw heads black.

At this point you may wish to consider the prop completed and no further work on the barrel is needed. However, if you want a slightly more realistic looking barrel you can use the optional material to make a wooden top for your barrel. Just follow these additional steps.

Step 7: Sit the completed barrel or one of the half barrels on the piece of plywood.

7 Completed Barrell on Scrap Wood.jpg

Step 8: Using the pencil draw a line around the bottom of the barrel onto the plywood. Cut out the wooden barrel top along the marked line.

8 Cut Barrell Top.jpg

Step 9: Sand the rough edges and the top and bottom of the wooden barrel top then using the black acrylic paint the edges and the bottom of the wooden barrel top.

9 Bottom Painted Barrell Top.jpg

Step 10: After the paint dries turn the wooden barrel top over and using the black acrylic paint and a small brush paint the wood grain on the wooden barrel top.

11 Wood Grain Barrell Top.jpg

Step 11: After the paint dries on the wooden barrel top use the brown acrylic paint to cover the wooden top with a light covering of brown paint. You can experiment to get the best looking coverage but at night in low light a color close to the plastic barrel color is good enough. Do not use too much paint as you want the painted grain of the barrel top to show through.

12  Painted Barrell Top.jpg

Step 12: Now using the black acrylic paint and brush paint a ring around the edge of the wooden barrel top. This will give it a slightly more realistic look and gives the illusion that the top is recessed below the barrel rim.

13 Paint Ring on Top.jpg

Step 13: After the paint dries place the wooden barrel top on the top of the assembled barrel. You can either leave the wooden barrel top unsecured or attach it to the assembled barrel using epoxy or gorilla glue or screws.

1 Two Barrels.jpg

That’s all there is to it. Now you have a fairly realistic looking barrel that is light weight and can be easily disassembled for storage if desired. And at a cost of about $50.00. (less if you already have some of the materials needed) it is half the cost of a genuine wooden, full-sized wine or whiskey barrel. The total time involved to complete the project is about 1 1/2 hours including the drying time for the paint.

If you would like a small barrel these plastic half-barrel planters are also made in a smaller size at about $7.00 each. The assembly method is the same.

After Halloween the barrel may be disassembled and stored by placing one of the half-barrels inside the other one. Several barrels may be stored together in the manner by simply stacking more barrels inside each other.
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