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I've done a poor job updating the blog. It's not that there isn't enough to say, but rather, we've been too busy to dedicate time to doing so. I've wanted to document the making of these chandeliers for some time, so I'm knocking it out this morning before work.

My buddy John at City Star Brewing in Berthoud, CO won't tell me where he got his inspiration for his chandelier but I definitely got mine from his. I also had a friend in Castle Rock named Kjell (now the brewer/owner at 105 West Brewing) that was an accomplished barrel-stave furniture maker and wanted to do something like he was accomplishing as well.

New barrels are exciting, but old barrels have some real character. When rum, tequila or brandy barrels are stored for long periods in humid conditions, the outsides rust and bleed and get some real character added to them. Leinenkugels at 10th in Milwaukee was doing a construction project and needed the space so I was offered a chance to purchase several old brandy barrels that held beer (presumably something dark from the Eddyline series).

I really wanted to get some coopers tools for taking apart and putting back together barrels, so I found these on ebay. They were being sold as display antiques. I wanted to use them! The barrels came apart quite easily.

Then I scrubbed and washed them a few times with a green scrubby and a garden hose. I left them to dry overnight. I then stacked and categorized them by width so I could keep them in pairs and balance the chandeliers better.

I knew the hardest part was going to be getting my angles straight, so I did a mockup of one slice of the chandelier to estimate these. Then I taped paper down to a table and traced one pair of these in actual size and drew the drill lines in sharpie. Now I had a template for getting all my holes drilled at the proper angles.

The making of the pieces was very straightforward, what was the most difficult and time-consuming was the assembly. I precut all the threaded rods and partially assembled those with nuts and washers. I then assembled each leg around a single hoop and then inserted the head. Yes these were assembled upside-down. The last part I had to figure out was how to keep them from sagging in the middle, so devised a way to take some scrap metal banding (Thanks Goebel Woodworking in Port!) and pop-rivet it to the inner band and hold the legs snug. You can see all this in the above pic.

Once assembled, it expanded to 7.5feet in diameter. My van isn't that wide from side mirror to side mirror. Then when built the second one, I had to fold them slightly otherwise I couldn't maneuver in my garage!

The last part was the wiring. I had bought terminals that met code and ran lamp wire down each leg and to the top of the barrel head and they all connected to one plugged cord. I figured if these were all 40W bulbs and there were 16 of them this would be a 640W light! But that sucks some major electricity, so as much as I wanted to use real Edison bulbs, this project used LED bulbs instead. These are only 4W each or 72W for the whole chandelier. Much better on the environment and the pocketbook. The Legion let me store these in their garage until I took the lease over. When we took over on July 1st, we worked 17 hour days doing demolition on the hall, then painting about 6 coats of paint all before Fish Day.

We installed them on Thursday July 13th, 2017. Which required an extra trip to Home Depot to cut down the 4ft black pipe supports down to 3ft (it took us about 20 minutes to decide and another 1hour for the trip, but the decision was the right one). My Dad and I were up on the scaffolding and we had a lot of helpers on the ground (Shay, Ross, Rob, Max).

The scaffolding was pretty big for two people, but once the 125lb chandelier was up there, it was quite tight. After it was hung, we stretched safety wires out four directions as well. My 70 year old dad tested one of the safety hooks by doing a pull-up on the wire.

I guess each one of the four can safely hold ~200lbs. So no fear of these from falling. Factor of safety is over 8!

I remember being exhausted and hot during the install. We weren't getting much sleep and I was driving myself hard for this and Fish Day that was only 48 hours away. I never gave myself an excuse to pause or relax or anything. Then when I saw this picture that Shay snapped I got a little teary eyed. Wow, it looked even better than I had envisioned it.

Using the left over rings and staves I made this globe for the couch corner and this American stave flag for the Legion.


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