5 - Assembly & Testing
At this stage you will char the head if desired. Then assembly of the barrel can begin.
Nuts and washers are placed in the holes to prevent them from burning. A shield is placed around the edge of the head to prevent burning. A propane weed torch is used to light that sucker up. The burning head is doused at the desired moment.
The spigot pipe may be waxed before the spigot is installed on the barrel head. Wax is not necessary if your spigot hole is perfectly sized; I no longer wax the spigot pipes on my barrels.
Painting wax on to a cold metal pipe is awkward as the brush will stick to the cold metal. I like to warm up the metal a bit with a torch before applying the wax.
Waxing The Croze
The croze is painted with beeswax to provide some improvement in the tightness of the barrel.
These days I use my homemade waxing wheel, which saves time and is less messy.
Pressing the Head
The barrel head is pressed into the can. I use a 12-ton shop press with the pneumatic driver for convenience. You can also drive the head into the can using a mallet or heavy hammer. Remember to spread the force out, or you may break the dowels, leave marks, or otherwise damage the head.
Cauterizing the Bunghole
The bunghole is cauterized to smooth and improve its shape, toast the raw wood, and compress the wood to lessen liquid transmission.
I know, this step is ridiculous. I asked a machinist friend with a CNC lathe to make me a stainless steel cauterizer with the same taper as my bungs. Don’t get hung up on this. You can totally get by without this step.
Fill the barrel with tepid or warm water. Hammer in a bung. Close the spigot. Sit the barrel on its side and wait.
If a significant amount of water dribbles out, refill the can, set it upright, and keep the face of the swelling barrel covered with water. It may still tighten.