Reclaimed whiskey barrel cabinet with shelves

Caring for Your Amish Barrel Furniture

Amish woodworkers have a long history of using reclaimed wine and whiskey barrels in their furniture. The end result is a unique and charming way to give a second life to hardwood materials without compromising the lasting durability and quality you would expect from Amish made furniture. Amish barrel furniture is the perfect addition to your home, but caring for these pieces is a bit different from other hardwood furniture because the wood of reclaimed barrels has unique maintenance needs. With a few simple steps, you can keep your barrel furniture looking its best for generations to come.

1. Gather the Materials

  • Beeswax (or)
  • Paste wax
  • Dish Soap
  • Dusting cloths

2. Clean the Surfaces

The first step is to prepare a soap mixture by adding a cup of water to a few drops of dish soap. Set that aside and use a dry cloth to dust the furniture. Then use that same cloth to wash the piece. Dip the cloth in the soap mixture and wash the barrel furniture in small circular motions. The third step is to go over the furniture piece with a dry cloth to finish the cleaning job.

3. Identify the Wood Species

Before applying any wax, it’s important to figure out what type of wood your barrel furniture is made from. Check the label on the back of the wax to ensure the wood is compatible. Make sure that the wax doesn’t change the coloring of the grain for your piece’s wood species.

4. Apply the Wax

You will need to use the correct wax on any reclaimed barrel furniture. There are two primary types: Beeswax and Paste wax. It’s important to use the correct wax to keep the wood in great shape. Use the following factors to tell which type is needed for your furniture piece:

  • Color
  • Grain
  • Age
  • Exposure

It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many people use the wrong color of wax when they are applying it to maintain their reclaimed barrel furniture. The grain color is important as well. The furniture can be completely destroyed if the correct color is not used. The age of the piece  also matters, as various types of wax are made for older versus newer pieces. Exposure to the elements is an important factor to consider as well. Beeswax is a great choice for maintenance, and the color choices are more varied as well.

Paste wax requires a little bit more effort to apply. Once the wax is applied, rubbing it with a soft cloth will keep it in perfect condition. There are treated cloths that can be bought at the same place as the wax, but most people just use a simple dusting cloth on the furniture.

Daily Care and Maintenance

Cleaning and maintenance are important, but daily use of reclaimed barrel furniture requires a few other considerations as well. Hot, wet, or cold items should never be placed on the furniture, as too much exposure to moisture can cause damage in the long run. If you keep your barrel furniture outdoors, try to keep it in a shaded area and cover it with a tarp whenever it’s about to rain.

With the proper maintenance and daily care, your reclaimed barrel furniture can last a lifetime and be passed down for generations to come. It is a wonderful way to continue to use a beloved item and even save a few trees through re-use.