Eudora resident Andy Wingert wasn't into woodworking when he was growing up, so his talent for making acrylic hotel furniture and wine accessories from recycled wine barrels seems surprising even to him.
About five years ago, Wingert was sprucing up the front of Rimann Liquors, a store he co-owns with Marshall Rimann in Lenexa, when he noticed a couple of used wine barrels. He decided to cut them in half to serve as planters, which he placed on the sidewalk in front of the business.
Soon, customers were asking where they could buy the planters.
"I made 25 to 30 planters in the first year," he said, adding the work was done only in his spare time.
About 21/2 years ago, he and his girlfriend, Cristi Coulter, were in a wine tasting room at Sonoma, Calif., and noticed a candleholder made from a barrel stave. Wingert reckoned he could make similar candleholders and sell them at his store.
Since then, he has branched out to create wine caddies, coat and hat racks, Lazy Susans, wine racks, custom-made benches, end tables and other accessories from oak wine barrels imported from California wine country.
"I'm not very artistic, but when I see something I try to picture if I can make that out of a barrel or parts of a barrel," he said.
"When I started, I had a hammer, a saw, a pair of pliers and screw drivers. My tool inventory has increased dramatically. Home Depot really likes me."
Wingert makes the wine barrel creations in a garage at his home. When needed, he seeks advice or borrows tools from his girlfriend’s father, Jim Coulter, and her uncle, Tom Coulter, both of Overland Park, as well as David Murray, his brother-in-law and Topeka native now living in Olathe.
Wingert begins by sanding down each 160-pound oak barrel. After he cuts the heads from the barrel and removes the metal bands, he measures and cuts the staves to a desired length. After another sanding to reveal its original wood grain and highlight where the metal bands were, each stave is sealed with a urethane.
In all, the staves will receive at least three sandings and three coats of urethane, which provides a protective barrier against water and temperature-changes and reduces the fading and graying effects of ultraviolet light.
The arch and band markings make each stave unique. In addition, the underside of each stave and head is stained a purplish-red from the wine stored in the barrel.
He also uses galvanized hardware to construct the outdoor items to ensure durability and lessen corrosion.
Excluding drying time, Wingert said, a planter takes about five to six hours to make, while a coat rack can take about an hour to 11/2 hours. A customized bench takes about six weeks.
Coulter said they sell the wine barrel items at three or four arts and crafts shows each year, including the Holiday Boutique in Overland Park. On some Friday nights in June and July, they set up at Holy-Field Winery in Basehor.
While Wingert takes care of the creation-side, Coulter and her 8-year-old son, Nickolas Coulter, enjoy manning the booths at the shows.
Coat racks sell for $40 to $95; candleholders, $35 to $50; planters, $325; and benches, at least $1,500.
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