Stave Cross from a Oak Barrel

Stave Cross from a Oak Barrel

I love a cross made from the staves of an oak barrel. Whether it be a whiskey or a wine barrel or one that housed a craft beer after it completed it’s first tour of duty as one of the fore-mentioned. It is just a simple and elegant project you can make in a day. Granted, the smell of stain and poly will permeate so you will not be able to give it away immediately.

This is a great home decor item as well as a thoughtful gift for a funeral. A oak barrel has anywhere between 25 to 35 staves. A cross only requires 2 staves to make. It used to be more difficult to find barrels. Facebook Marketplace has made that much easier and actually cheaper because all the vendors are competing with one another and that keeps the price down to about $100 a barrel. I have found a local craft beer business that occasionally sells the individual staves when they have a barrel fall apart because the rings won’t stay in place. This is my favorite way to get the staves. When you buy a barrel, the staves can run anywhere from a width of about 1 1/2″ to 5″ wide. I prefer to use 2 1/2″ – 3″ wide staves to make a cross. When I purchase a whole barrel and take it apart, I only end up with about 15-20 staves that meet those requirements. However, lately I have only been able to get staves by buying the whole barrel.

I usually build items in my head and don’t do a lot of research first. I’ve been making stave crosses for about 5 years now. Today, I actually perused Etsy to see how much a stave cross sells for. The vendors seem to range from about $52.50 to about $80.00. I also viewed the many ways that someone has created a stave cross and it definitely won’t change the way that I already create them. I’ll let you decide your own method but, I am happy to share mine.

Some vendors just cut the arm piece shorter and stack them on top of one another. I am not a fan of this construction way as the profile of the stave cross isn’t as sleek as I prefer.

There are others that utilize the arm piece as the piece that is a continuous piece and splice in the top and the bottom of the cross. I don’t see this as the best option either as they are basically having to cut three pieces and each arm piece does not have the slim profile by utilizing both the top and bottom of a stave for the arms.

I use one full stave and cut 8″ off each end of the second stave to create the arms of the cross. This way I am guaranteed that each arm end has the same lip and it also seems the most streamline aesthetically when the cross is complete.

This project is fairly simple and you don’t need to be an experienced wood worker. Here are the steps and pictures showing each step so that you can create a stave cross for a small portion of the price that you would have to buy one for.

Two full staves to start this project.

I use one full stave and cut 8″ off each end of the second stave to create the arms of the cross.

I cut my second stave at a 5 degree angle so that the arms sit in to the wall at the same arch as the single stave.

This way I am guaranteed that each arm end has the same lip and it also seems the most streamline aesthetically when the cross is complete.

The messy part. Sand all of the pieces. Oak barrels are charred on the inside and you will need to get the top layers of this char off.
I utilize my kreg jig to add pocket holes for my pocket screws.
My kreg jig has easily turned into my favorite tool. For a long time I hesitated purchasing it. However, I would now say it is one of my top 3 favorite tools.
Attach the arms visually where you like them. I tend to attach them 8 1/2″ below the top (just slightly longer than the length of each arm).
You can see the beautiful arch that is created on the backside from the inherent shape of the barrel. When mounted on a wall, these are just so beautiful.
I just measure down and add one picture frame hook to the back of each cross.
Although these are placed on the floor, you can see the sleek line that will occur when the stave cross is hung from a wall.
If you want to personalize these for a family Christmas gift or for a funeral, a name can easily be painted across the arms or down the center of the cross.

I think these make such a great family gift at Christmas time. If you plan to make even 5 of these to give away, the investment of one barrel and 1 kreg jig tool is worth it. A barrel and 1 kreg jig is about a $200 investment. Sandpaper (the sanding can be done by hand and doesn’t require a sander), stain, poly, and kreg screws will be less than $50.00. This investment of $250.00 should yield you at least 10 crosses. That calculates out to about $25.00 a cross. You could always sell half at $50 each and basically pay for your investment and give the remaining 5 to family and friends for the holidays! That’s a win-win in my book!