Thursday, April 9, 2015
What have I gotten myself into Wk. 2
My second week at Oregon Barrel works was also very interesting. The main thing that I learned this week was how to raise (start) a barrel. One of my coworkers would take piece of strait flat oak and run them through a plainer that would cut the sides at an angle, create a curve on the back and the front of the piece of wood, and smooth it out. After this another one of my coworkers would lay the pieces of wood out onto a table where there were two pieces of steel on either side that were measured precisely to be the length of the circumference of the barrel. When he would lay the pieces of freshly cut wood onto the table he would have to alternate big and small pieces and find which pieces would make an exact fit to the length on the table. After this step he would bring the pieces in stacks over to me. Now for my part. I would have a galvanized ring that I would hold, then I would take one piece of wood, usually the biggest one, and clamp it to the galvanized ring. I would use my waist to hold up the other side of then ring then I would have to pick up and place a piece of wood into the circle and butt it up to the clamped piece. My left hand would put pressure onto the piece that I just put in holding it against the clamped piece. If I did not hold enough pressure on the piece at any point it would fall and I would have to start over. I would do this with approximately 30 pieces of wood that would make the barrel take shape. The final piece was always the hardest to get in but definitely the most rewarding. after the final piece was on I could throw a steel ring around the barrel and remove the clamp and the galvanized ring. I would throw a second steel ring on and then take a 3 pound sledge hammer and a plastic block and pound the rings down onto the barrels. This would tighten the wood up and make the barrels start to take shape. To pound each ring on it took me about 10 minutes per ring. Then the most difficult part, the top ring. When you put the top ring on you have to make sure that the other rings are tight because if they are not the top one wont go on. After about 20 minutes of pounding on this ring and finally getting it on I was done. My hands were throbbing, my right forearm was incredibly sore from swinging a 3 pound sledge hammer for 40 minutes and I could have given up after one barrel but to my overwhelming excitement there were 8 more stack of wood ready to be put together into barrels for me. This was the longest day of my life it felt like, what had I gotten myself into.