rusty barrel rings

This next project was one I’d been wanting to do for several years now. One of those things you tend to put off because you can see it in your mind’s eye and how cool it could be, but not sure if it will live up to those expectations.

This idea came from the blog, For the Love of a House. Since I have always used whiskey barrels as rain barrels in my yard, I tucked the idea away in the back of my mind, waiting for the day when my barrels fell apart from use and age, and the metal rings would be available for recycling. In the last couple years I have had to replace my two rain barrels, so I finally had enough rings to make this project.

Although nervous, I decided to take the plunge and just “go for it”. After all, there was really nothing to lose. So, I dug the rings that were sitting behind the shed, out of the snow, mud, and leaves, and brought them into the house to dry out.

They really were a dirty, rusty mess, and I wish I had set them inside the shed instead of leaving them outside to deteriorate all these years. After cleaning them up a little, I sorted them into piles of different sizes. A couple of the rings had rusted through and separated, so they were not useable for this project. But, I did find four rings of one size, and three rings of another size, allowing me to make two orbs.

Because I was making these by myself, I was not able to take photos and hold the rings at the same time. This project is really best done with two people, one to hold the rings in place, and the other to do the drilling. For this reason, I am referring you to For the Love of a House for their tutorial. Every step is explained very well, with photos to demonstrate.

Because I don’t have a drill press, (as they used in their tutorial), I had to make do with my hand drill. It will most likely take longer to do the drilling this way, but the same result will be accomplished in the end.

For this project, good clamps are your friend and almost as good as a second pair of hands.

Once the holes are drilled through all the rings, and lined up, you can insert the screw through the holes, and attach the washer and nut. If the screw is too long, it can be sawed off with a hack saw.

Normally you would insert the screw into the rings from the outside, which is opposite of the above photo. But I wanted to set this orb on a cement garden pedestal that had a hole in it, so I chose to use a much longer screw that I could insert in the hole, so the orb wouldn’t blow off.

My orb wasn’t entirely round and balanced, since I didn’t get the rings spaced perfectly, so the longer screw was necessary to help it stay on the pedestal. If you’re just placing it on the ground in your garden, you can certainly use a shorter screw.

Here is how the smaller first orb with four rings came out.

Normally, this pedestal sits in the garden amidst a bed of lamb’s ears and monarda with an angel statue on top. I guess I’ll have to find a new home for the angel now. Since there is still too much freezing and thawing going on outside to put the pedestal out in the elements, the orb and pedestal will stay in the house for a month or so until it is safe weather wise to put them out together.

When totally finished, all the shiny metal hardware was painted with a brown paint to make it less noticeable. Aren’t those rusty rings perfection?

The larger second orb has only three rings, and I am leaning towards finding a home for it on the ground in the shade garden.

I do need your opinion on the second orb though. I am contemplating spray painting it with black Rustoleum paint. It will be sitting amidst green hostas and ferns. Do you prefer black or rust? I can’t decide which I would like better. Regardless of the decision, both orbs will be sprayed, either black or with a clear polyurethane finish to help protect them and slow down the rust process.

Here is another idea I saw on Pinterest, that I thought was beautiful. Maybe I could find a nice black plant container, paint the 3-ring orb black, and use it in this manner.

So, if you ever come across some whiskey barrel rings at a yard sale or flea market, be sure to pick them up and give this a try. They make a unique garden ornament. You can purchase them online, but you can make your own for a fraction of the price that people are charging for them, and you have the satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself.

Take a look at how Dan and Joan from The Love of A House, used the orb they made on their terrace.


10 thoughts on “rusty barrel rings

  1. Thank you Kris. Your third vote for rust has convinced me that I need to just leave it as it is. I am a rust fan myself, but was just thinking since I had one rust, maybe I could change the other one to black. I’ve always liked black with the greenery of plants. Rust it will stay.


    1. Thank you Jane! After all the years I put off making them because I was afraid I couldn’t do it, I’m so glad I finally tried. I have a habit of procrastinating when I think I can’t do something, instead of facing it head on.


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