I added this to the woodworking forum - cool stuff. Here at paul's project, we've been looking for plastic-free containers for brining, salting meats, food storage, etc. Glass or wood is what we'd prefer. It's hard to find. Would love to see some water-tight wooden boxes, too.
I have found a few used whiskey or wine barrels, but they are still expensive. New ones are extremely expensive!
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
I used to visit with the potato barrel maker on long lake Madawaska Maine. Notice that heat is necessary to bend the staves. His barrels were 55 gallon size, the staves were 3/8 inch thick and tongue and grove on the edges. His clamps were foot operated so that he could do the whole operation by himself. I am not sure how long it took to make the staves because I did not get to watch that but he could assemble the barrel in 10 to 15 minutes. They were surprisingly strong; they were picked up full of potatoes by a clamp like what is used to lift jars out of the canner and hoisted on a truck, then rolled down a plank on the bottom edge into the potato house.
Sounds to me like you might want to find a cooper to do a workshop. If you could get a person or three at the lab to take an interest, well, that's not only a storage solution, but if you have the resources in excess, you have barrels to sell.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
Japanese taru are a bit easier and can be made with hand tools exclusively. because they're basically conic sections instead of the more familiar barrel shape, they don't require heat for bending staves. the shape of the staves is also considerably simpler for the same reason. they're bound with green bamboo that tightens up as it dries: no metal-smithing required.
of the tools necessary, a curved froe and curved drawknife are probably the most difficult to get ahold of.