Myself and my wife run a company called Etched Barrel. We use this company for my wife to do her consulting work, and to also sell our Word Clocks.
It makes sense then that we actually have at least one etched barrel for our company.
Laser cutters are capable of a lot of things, however laser engraving on curved barrel staves would be quite difficult due to the non-flat surface. Etching on the barrel head (the barrel lid) would be far easier.
I sourced two oak barrel heads, previously used to age red wine.
The barrel heads themselves come as fully separated planks. In a barrel they are held together by the barrel sides, but without them, they remain loose.
To join them, my first thought was to run a bar across the back, and screw into each plank. The problem with this method is that wood expands and contracts, and if there is no room for this movement, the wood could misalign or crack.
An alternative method was to glue each plank to the next. This means that each individual plank can expand and contract as required. Thankfully I found a video explaining this exact process:
In this video, the artist uses TiteBond III to glue each plank together, then clamps the entire head using 4-way compression clamps which, as the title suggests, applies even pressure to the top, bottom and ends. This ensures the head remains tight and flat when drying. I was able to find these clamps locally, but there is some manual work required to get them setup to the specifications you want.
Once glued, the front surface was not flat enough for lasering. So an electric sander was used to smooth of the front surface. This was preferred over a planer to maintain the brilliant red wine staining on the back.
Once flat, the barrel heads were laser etched. One with our company logo, the other with a lovely Tui image from CoralKiwiSVG on Etsy.
As the front surface was sanded, the aged oak effect was replaced with a raw oak look. To reproduce the aged oak look, and protect the wood, I stained the barrel head using an exterior rated oil based Rustic Oak stain. Ready to be mounted inside or outside.