I bought an old wine barrel second-hand. The owners said it was used previously as decoration in a restaurant.

I wanted to lighten up the colour so started to use sandpaper on certain parts. It was looking good so I thought I would continue, but then considered if I should be taking any precautions.

Do you think it’s safe to sandpaper by hand? Am I putting anything dangerous in the air that I shouldn’t be breathing?

I’m not sure what kind of stains are on the barrel or if it just looks like that because it’s very old.

I never do any wood work so all advice appreciated.

Do I need to be careful or am I just fine to go ahead?

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  • Your time would be better spent make beer and aging it in the barrel. Just sayin.
    – Alaska Man
    Apr 23 '20 at 19:22
  • Unless you are willing to put a lot of work into this, it's just going to darken again. IMO, just enjoy the patina.
    – jdv
    Apr 23 '20 at 22:04

Sanding creates fine dust, which can be an irritant. You should have a basic mask at a minimum. In a perfect world, you'd be doing it away from living quarters.

There isn't likely to be any finish on it that presents health concerns. (If it was painted, we'd be asking about lead-based paint, which is a concern.)

Different species behave differently, with the general trend that the oilier ones are more of a problem... white oak (which the barrel is almost certainly made of if it was really a barrel) isn't usually high on the irritating list. Your mileage may vary.


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