How to Make a Wine Barrel Sink   25 comments

This step by step description should help anyone create a beautiful outdoor (or indoor) bar sink from a discarded wine or whisky barrel. This is your typical 55 gallon barrel, I bought for $30  from John at Quinta Ferreira  winery in Oliver, BC. You will need some tools, so I will list them as we go.

finished sink

The next time you are in wine country, and you have finally convinced the vintner to sell you a barrel, you are well on your way. Next you will need a small bar sink. This one was $45 from a new & used building supplier.

typical 55 gallon wine barrel

New (old) wine barrel

With your tape measure, centre the sink in the top of the barrel. Either end of the barrel will do, so pick the best end for the top. Orient the sink the same direction as the end slats. Trace the outline with a pencil, remove the sink and measure in 1/2″ on the ends and 3/4″ on the front and back so your cutout will be smaller that the outline of the sink.

Trace the outline of the sink, and the inner cut-out line

drill corners of the cut-out

drill corners of the cut-out

cutting the hole to drop in the sink

Cut out the hole with a sabre saw.

The top opening of barrel will be your workspace

You may want to lightly sand the edges of the opening, because you will be spending some time leaning into this hole.

Drop in the sink to check the fit

Now drop the sink in gently, and check the fit. Adjust with your saw, if the hole is too small. You don’t want the hole too large of the fit will be sloppy.

On the back side of the sink, as you have determined which is the back side, drill 4 small holes just inside the two metal hoop straps, on a stave joint. This is in preparation for the access door into the barrel, for plumbing, and storage access. The reason for the holes to to locate where to saw the top and bottom of the door.

Drill 4 holes on the stave joints, 7 staves apart

Looking through the top hole, look for the 4 drill holes. These will be the corners of the access door. Get some Simpson Stong-Tie straps, and 1/2″ Robertson screws, and fasten straps about 1″ inside the top & bottom holes, and about 1/2″ inside stave joints. Hint: As this is an awkward way to work, use Robertson square drill screws to hold on the impact driver bit.

Fasten galvanized straps to hold stave access door together

To create the access door, use a hand saw to cut along the metal hoop straps from drill hole to drill hole. Only top and bottom cuts are required because the stave joints are only butted and will come apart. Fasten metal one tie-strap to the outside of the access door.

Cut between the drill holes, just inside the straps.

Once the cuts are started with the hand saw, they can be finished off with your sabre saw.

Access door comes out in one piece

Now your project is read for stain. Use a sponge sanding block to remove grunge, mold, stains, and the like. A good even sanding will really bring out the character of the wood. This barrel is oak, and the sanding and water based stain will bring it to life. I used a foam brush, stroke in the direction of the grain, and wipe excess off with a cloth as your go.

Once the wood stain is dried a couple of days, mask off the barrel to paint the metal barrel hoops. I chose a satin black enamel. This is the time to fasten hinges and a door pull. For hinges, you will want a long strap style hinge, and position them towards center, in from the top and bottom edges of the access door. This will allow for the distorted swing caused by the curvature of the barrel. If the hinges are too close to the top and bottom edges, it will stress the hinges. Add a barrel bolt to keep the door closed.
Screw strap style hinges to the door, and mask off barrel to paint the metal barrel hoops. Our barrel is now all stained and door hardware is fastened.

Our barrel is now all stained and door hardware is fastened.Our barrel is now all stained and door hardware is fastened. Now we can add some plumbing. I used a discarded single handle Delta faucet from a past kitchen renovation. Note the right side cold inlet will be the only side used and the hot left stem will be capped off.

Single stem kitchen faucet with cold-only side right. Hot left is capped off

Water is supplied by a 1/2″ PEX waterline run underground from the house. (more on this below). The PEX line is terminated at a regular garden hose shut-off valve, on a screw-mount base. You will need a female hose thread to 3/8″ faucet stem coupling to connect. I found one for $2.39 at Rona.

For drainage of our sink, I clamped on an 1 1/4″ flexible shop vacuum hose. More on where this goes below.

Drain stem goes to an old vacuum hose

I decided I wanted underground water supply to my outdoor sink, rather than a tacky looking garden hose attached to trip over. This takes some effort and planning to source the water from the house. I chose to put a tee connection on the closest inside basement cold water line, and inserted a shutoff immediately after the tee. I then ran a PEX plastic and then copper through the wall of my basement, and terminated at a hose bibb. Just before the hose bibb, I soldered a tee downward which would be my water source.

Water source for our outdoor sink

Connection to the house is in fact the last connection to make in the line, but I prefer to show it in reverse order

PEX waterline from the house
underground waterline under the bricks

Open all the valves starting at the sink, and going backwards to the source. Be sure to seal all threads with silicone thread tape. Check all connections and solder joints for leaks. Basin is stuck in place with plumber`s putty. Roll the putty out into long worms and place around the hole in the top of the barrel. Press down firmly on the sink. You can fasting it down with hold down screws which hook under the sink on welded tabs.

Check all connections and solder joints for leaks

You will notice a side table attached to my sink. This was an afterthought after I finished, which worked out well. It is a teak fan tail off a small boat, which washed up on the shore of our lake after a big storm. It sat around for years waiting to be used in a project.

fan tail from a boat for a side table

I traced the outline of the barrel onto the fan tail and cut out the crescent with a sabre saw.

trace outline of barrel, and cut out crescent with sabre saw

It fit snug and just below the rim of the barrel, but need some support from some wood brackets and added hooks that fit into the support brackets on the fan tail.

side table in place on the barrel

Lastly, you will need a drainage connection to your sink. Unless you are spilling sewerage and toxic chemicals down the sink, which this was never intended for, draining into a rock pit should satisfy the City fathers. I tied into a 4`inch yard drainage system with a 1.25 inch drain line and some elbows.

drain connection

Finally, we are done, and ready to call the guests over for a few brews, some bbq steaks and never again have to run in the house to wash the raw chicken off your hands.


Posted November 13, 2011 by mondolake in wine barrel sink

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25 responses to “How to Make a Wine Barrel Sink

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    • yes you can but it makes it easier to keep the staves aligned as close as it was built and fitting well when it’s finished. I would recommend reaching in and strapping them together first, a bit of a pain I know, but a bigger pain if you don’t.

  2. One other step to modify the construction and longevity of your barrel sink, when you cut out the top of the barrel for the sink, fasten the short top pieces on either side together or they could (will) fall inside. Screw a Simpson strap from underneath spanning from the long fixed barrel top staves on either side of the cut out. This will cradle the potentially loose short staves and hold them in place.

  3. what color stain did you use

  4. precioso, me encanto. y donde se puede conseguir hecho, y su precio. gracias.

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  7. How is your barrel holding up? Have the hoops stayed secure in place and have the staves maintained their curve?

  8. The barrel is holding up like the day it was finished. It winters very well with the water lie blown out, although I’ve had to realign the washers a couple of times. It could use a fresh coat of water based stain on the top due to some standing water. I will be adding some more tribal masks to the front soon.

  9. Pingback: How To Make A Wine Barrel Sink

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  11. Could you have made the access panel around the bung hole and/or used the hole as the supply line/drain line access?

    • Hi Jeremy. I suppose you could put the access door about the bung hole, but it could weaken the door itself by having the hole in it. I took the supply and drain through the bottom directly into the ground through a space in the brickwork and into a 4″ sand base. As for the hole, I would just plug it, or leave it as is.

  12. How are you getting the barrel to stay together? I sell them on the side, run up to Kentucky to several distilleries to get 100 or so at a time. One thing I have always had to tell my customers, as the distilleries have told me, including Jack Daniels, is that you must keep water in them to keep them swelled to maintain structural integrity; usually a gallon per month is sufficient. My own experience is that if you let them dry out, the hoops fall off, and the barrel staves shift and move.


    • No problem with the barrel delaminating. Our climate is fairly damp and barrel stave shrinkage is minimal. It is obviously outside, and semi-exposed, so it may get rained on if the wind blows in sideways.

  13. Hmmmm. I have a home in both Georgia and Florida. I sell the barrels in both places, especially in Florida, as the people here have rarely seen a barrel, and buy them up like gold. Florida, as you might imagine, is probably one of the most damp and humid places in the country. Even here the barrels must be irrigated from time to time, even if stored outside. Lots of my buyers use them for small ponds, waterfalls, rain barrels, etc. and in such a use, irrigating them is not necessary. But if stored inside, like using them as bases for bartops, etc., the barrel cannot be allowed to dry out, which it quickly would, and the buyer must irrigate them from time to time by pouring water into the bung hole and replacing the cork bung.

    I have seen several online depictions of people making sinks out of them for bathrooms, where they have cut into them, like you have, and wondered how they stay together, as obviously once cut into one cannot pour water into them. Surely something must be being done to maintain structural integrity once the staves dry out and shrink. I myself have left the bung out on several by accident storing them outside, and if I don’t feed them with water, after a few months, simply trying to move the barrel will cause it to fall apart in your hands.

    I only buy and sell whiskey barrels, and thought maybe the charring process contributes to the easy delamination of the of barrel without frequent water feeding to keep the staves and tops/bottoms swelled. I notice yours is a wine barrel which is not subjected to the charring process. Yet the distilleries I buy from have told me they sell used whiskey barrels to wineries, so many of the wineries are using the same barrels I am.

    It is a mystery I am trying to solve. Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.


  14. Hi Robert, what if you screwed the straps to the staves or fiberglassed the barrel on the inside.

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  16. Could this be used for a inside sink and hold up good?

    • Inside would be a better environment for longevity of your barrel compared to outside, for sure. The plumbing is your only risk, to prevent leaks. The finish should last for many years.

  17. I am attempting to turn a wine barrel into a wet-bar for my lofr and have run into problems with the door hinges. I used strap hinges as you did and have sanded a champher on the hinge side of both the door and the barrel. However when I try to open the door, the hinges bind. I noticed when I remove 2 of the 3 screws on the hnge, the door works well but the hinge attempts to swivle to one side or the other which is obviously what’s binding. Any ideas?

    • Mark,
      I encountered the same thing with the hinges because of the curvature of the barrel. I tested the swing with a single screw in each hinge and noted how they would slightly twist when the door swung. I picked a neutral middle point and added the other screws. Another consideration is to space the hinges closer together so the angles are more similar than a wide spacing. The drawback is with closer spacing, the door is not as sturdy. Trial and error. Remember I built mine without instructions! Good luck

  18. Where did you find the sink base? Im having a hard time finding one that fits! thanks!

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