Wine Rack Project

Wine Rack Project

This year, my wife Ann suggested I make holiday gifts for several of our family and friends. She often produces fabric art quilts that are consistently well received. I contribute too, but not as many gifts as she does. Where does she find the time?

I looked through a couple hundred images of wine racks made from any number of materials, and constructed a half dozen or so before settling on a plan that would work for a very nice gift. My final plan holds 4 bottles per layer. I limited the height to 3 layers just to keep the size and weight of the piece reasonable. An alternate plan includes 5 bottles per layer.

I always start with good quality hardwood. Make sure it’s flat and of uniform thickness. The joinery in this project, though not terribly complex, requires fair precision. Specialized tools required: a dado set and 2 hole saws, (3-1/4” and 1-1/4” diameter). You’ll need a drill press to run the hole saws.

Because of the joinery the stock must be uniform thickness. Your best bet is to run the parts through a planer and mill them to 3/4” thickness. Cut pieces according to the cut list, and make sure to cut a few test pieces from the same material for adjusting your dado blades.

For your order of operations I suggest you do the bottle cut-outs then the dado joint cuts. The reason is this: the bottle cuts are where things might go wrong. Simply put, the piece could slip during the drilling process. If you mess up a bottle cut-out you can replace the piece and you don’t have too much of a labor investment.

Set up the drill press for making the bottle cut-outs

Wine Rack Project

With the head of a square against the front edge of the drill press table align the edge of the square with the center of a drill bit.

Wine Rack Project

Hold the square in this position and draw a line along the edge. This line is used as an index mark for positioning bottle rails.

Wine Rack Project

Clamp a fence to the drill press table. It’s best if the fence is thicker than the project material. That way the hole saw is already riding against the fence before it contacts the wine rack material.

Position the front edge of the fence 1/4” beyond the center of the drill bit. You will be drilling out slightly more than half a circle from the waste block. Make sure the waste block is perpendicular to the index line for best results.

Drill the bottle cut-outs

Wine Rack Project

Draw index lines on the bottle rails at 4” increments.

Wine Rack Project

With the 3-1/4” hole saw in the drill press, align the first index mark on one bottle rail with the index mark on the table and clamp the rail securely in place.

Wine Rack Project

Gently feed the hole saw into the rail. Note that the rail is tightly clamped to the drill press table, but the clamp is out of the frame of the photo.

Wine Rack Project

If the cut-out remains inside the hole saw be sure to remove it before making subsequent cuts.

Move to the next index mark. Continue until half your rails are done. Then change to the 1-1/4” hole saw. Position the fence by nesting it against the hole saw. Again, keep the front edge of the fence perpendicular to the lay out line you made on the drill press table.

Cut the dados

Set your dado head to the thickness of material and test it carefully. You’ll want a snug fit. Test, test, test. Just make sure the dado cut is the same thickness as the material! If the dado cuts are too large, your joints will be sloppy. If they are too small, you might chip edges during assembly. If you’re using softer or more porous woods, consider the possibility of swelling when applying finish. You might want to experiment with your chosen finish on a couple test pieces.

I use a shop-made sled to cut my dados. You could use a miter gauge with a stop block, but the sled is simple to make and goes a long way to ensuring consistent dado cuts on your material.

Wine Rack Project

The sled is made up of a base 12” x 20” with 2 slides arranged to match the miter slots on your table saw, a fence perpendicular to the cut, and a stop placed to ensure the data starts 1” from the end of each piece.

Wine Rack Project

Note: The end piece along the left edge of the sled as shown in this photo acts as a guide. I place the bottle rails against that end piece and use index marks drawn on the sled fence at 4” increments for making index marks on my bottle rails. (See earlier photo)

Here’s a sketch of the sled to add clarity.

Wine-Rack-Sketch

Tech note: In this illustration we show the slot guides extended beyond the body of the sled. This is not necessary, it’s just to give you a better idea of how the sled is built.

Wine Rack Project

Note that the dados are cut on both ends of each piece, and on the top and bottom edges, EXCEPT, the bottom edge of the lowest rails. These are base pieces and don’t require a dado on the bottom.

The sides, 6” x 12” pieces, need dado cuts on both top and bottom edges. For the top rail designed to trim the last layer, (1-1/4” x 20” pieces), cut dados in only one edge.

Sand and rout

Wine Rack Project

Sand the bottle cut-outs using a spindle sander. These cuts can be sanded out by hand, too.

Gently finish and the faces of all the pieces. Keep in mind it’s important to keep everything the same thickness.

Wine Rack Project

Use a router table to round-over each edge – except inside the dado cuts. You can do the same thing with a sanding block and some 220 or 320 grit paper.

Dry assemble your project and make any necessary adjustments.

Final sand and mask off the dado joint surfaces. Apply 3 coats of lacquer or polyurethane. Sand with 400 or 600 grit paper between coats for the best finish. Let the coats cure completely.

Wine Rack Project

Assemble finished pieces using good quality wood glue with a generous open time – 10 or more minutes. It’s a good idea to assemble all the layers at one time to ensure perfect alignment. Clamp firmly and let the glue cure thoroughly.

Cut List for 4 bottles wide

Wine Rack Project

Cut List for 5 bottles wide

Wine Rack Project

Several Projects – 1, 2, and 3 layer racks

Single Level

Wine Rack Project

Two Level

Wine Rack Project

Three Level

Wine Rack Project
Discussion
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25 Responses to “Wine Rack Project”
  1. Dan
    Dan

    Could you save time by cutting the holes in 6″ wide boards, then ripping them in half?

    Reply
  2. clutions
    clutions

    Just got finished with my 8 bottle/two level in cherry. My daughter loves it. Thanks you AJ!

    Reply
    • Larry
      Larry

      Don’t listen to them, Dean. It looks like they’re cut a half-inch deep; two interlocking dadoes then make the overlap an inch.

      Reply
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      • Lenny
        Lenny

        A wine rack is supposed to have the bottles slanted so that the neck is lower than the bottom. This design l;ooks like the opposite.

        Reply
        • Customer Service
          Customer Service

          Hello Lenny,

          Here’s what the experts had to say about your question:

          It would hold the bottle approximately level. The cork would remain wet.

          Sincerely,
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          Wood Workers Guild of America Expert

          Reply
      • Christopher Rackham
        Christopher Rackham

        I believe Julio might have been asking how many levels of racks would you recommend.

        Reply
  5. DUNCAN
    DUNCAN

    Is cut list for three layer racks correct? I would have thought 6 pieces of 3 x 20 or 3 x 24 rather than 6 x 20/24

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hello Duncan,

      Here’s what the experts had to say about your question:

      You are correct. Our apologies. We will correct this typo in the cut list. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

      Sincerely,
      Paul
      Wood Workers Guild of America Expert

      Reply
  6. Jim Mann
    Jim Mann

    Two questions, materials list for 12 bottle rack shows 6 pcs of 6″ x 20″ & 15 bottle rack shows 6 pcs of 6″ x 24″, shouldn’t that be 3″ in both cases for the bottle racks ?? Also if the front & rear bottle racks are made of the same height material will that allow the bottle to sit in a position that keeps the cork wet as recommended by a lot of wine producers ? Thanks, I like the idea.

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hello Jim,

      Here’s what the experts had to say about your question:

      You are correct about the error. Our apologies; we will get this fixed. The rack is designed to hold the bottles level, and keep the cork wet. If you want them to lean forward you could use the larger hole size in both front and rear.

      Sincerely,
      Paul
      Wood Workers Guild of America Expert

      Reply
  7. Gilles Chauret
    Gilles Chauret

    I’m in favor to save time and cut the holes in à six (6) inches boards and split them in half !

    Reply
  8. Carlos
    Carlos

    Up to how many levels do you believe this project could handle? Would six or seven levels be dangerous? If so, how would you reinforce it? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hello Carlos,

      Here’s what the experts had to say about your question:

      There’s no binary answer to this as it depends where the racks are sitting and what common hazards might be present (kids, pets, etc). If they are in an area where they are prone to getting bumped, then I wouldn’t go as high as 6-7 levels.

      Sincerely,
      Paul
      Wood Workers Guild of America Video Membership

      Reply
  9. Rick johnson
    Rick johnson

    How come I can’t see the build of this project or the cut list only shoes me the finished picture

    Reply
    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Rick. You will find the details below each picture and the cutlist is at the very bottom. If you have any questions please contact us by email, chat or phone our customer service team.
      Thanks!
      Sarah
      Woodworkers Guild of America Video Membership

      Reply