Introduction: Plywood Beer Crate

I found myself with a left over half sheet of 5/8" exterior ply from a rebuild of my front deck, and used it to make 3 beer crates, each holding 24 bottles. This is a fun, easy project that makes a good gift (more on that later).

Step 1: Tools and Materials

You need about 1/6 of a full sheet of 5/8" plywood for this crate, plus some scrap hardboard. I had about half a sheet of both, so made 3 crates. You'll also need nails (I used a nailgun), wood glue and a saw (I used a table saw and a mitre saw, because I own them; a circular saw and a guide would be fine).

You also need beer. To fill 3 crates, I bought 6 mixed cases of West Coast craft beer (2x Phillips, Vancouver Island Brewery, Granville Island, Tree, and Big Rock), which got me (three lots of) 24 different microbrews. Yum.

Step 2: Design

While drafting the plans, I just played around with the width of the boards and the spacing until I got one that looked good to my eye. I know I would have saved wood had I just made the ends solid, but I liked the prospect of (a) being able to see the labels and (b) not having to cut out handholds. The grid of hardboard spacers is not strictly necessary, but it stops the bottles rattling and looks good. I made these a reasonably snug fit.

It occurred to me afterwards that stackable crates might be handy if you wanted multiples (e.g. for homebrewers), so I modified the plans to allow this (second figure). The SketchUp file is attached, if you want to take a closer look, or modify it further. Basically, the verticals have been made slightly longer and dropped 10 mm, so each crate has short legs that slot into the crate below. If the crates don't slot together nicely, sand the insides of the legs down a little.

Step 3: Get Cutting

All the pieces of plywood were ripped to 64 mm wide. I just ran them through the table saw. You then need to cut them to the following lengths (these are all per crate):

4 x 271 mm | 3 x 441 mm | 4 x 473 mm | 4 x 241 mm (or 4 x 256 mm for the stackable version)

The hardboard needs to be ripped to 110 mm strips, then cut into 5 x 265 mm and 3 x 407 mm lengths. You then need to cut notches in them so they can intersect. I used a table saw with all of them ganged together, but a jigsaw or handsaw would be fine too.

Step 4: Assemble

I made my life easier by assembling these inside a few bits of wood nailed to some scrap plywood. They were all stitched together using generous amounts of wood glue and a nailgun. Regular nails or short screws would be fine too, just slower. The glue is doing most of the work in holding the crate together, and wood glue is impressively strong. The gaps between the bottom slats is 20 mm. The insert just slots together without any glue.

Step 5: Combine Parts and Add Beer

Drop the insert in the box, and add beer of your choice.

Step 6: Giftify

Making two dozen beer into an advent calendar is a fun gift. Last year we saw duncanwilkinson's, chelsearambo's and mikeasaurus's beervent calendars, and a local brewery sold one this year (Phillips, last picture) that sold out in three hours and was so popular that liquor stores still had signs up saying "we don't have any snowcases" a month later. Having made a crate, turning it into a calendar is a cinch. Just get some card, letter it in a suitably festive style, cut X's in the back and staple to the top of the crate. Make some for your drinking buddies or just enjoy a beer a day during December yourself.

Comments

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medic7557 made it!(author)2015-04-18

Really nice. I used pallet wood laying around. Looks much nicer than plastic crates for my home brew.

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makendo made it!(author)2015-04-18

great, glad it was useful

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BackyardWW made it!(author)2014-09-26

What a great idea - very simple & I love the jig you made to get the pieces to line up. This will make an awesome gift, I already know who I can make one for. You did an excellent job documenting and sharing how to put the box together - so thank you.

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makendo made it!(author)2014-09-27

Thanks. Yeah, I probably wouldn't have bothered with the jig had I been making just one crate, but it definitely sped up the assembly of 3.

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Hesselvang made it!(author)2014-05-19

Great instructions. I made it a bit different, because I made it to be a toy box/small chair for my toddler. She likes to draw but the other kids chairs we have are to high, so upside down, it now works as a chair for her, and later she can use it as a box for toys.

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makendo made it!(author)2014-05-19

Awesome! Thanks for posting.

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AngryRedhead made it!(author)2013-12-19

I'm pretty sure there should be a full week labeled 25-25-25-25-25-25-25. :P

Excellent work!

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makendo made it!(author)2013-12-20

Agreed; I have a full refill ready to go :)

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GardenerMatt made it!(author)2013-12-10

Very timely! I was looking for plans last night, and your design came up in my Feedly list this morning. I'm a homebrewer, and I haven't gotten in to kegging yet, so this would be much better than my "use the boxboard 6-pack carriers until a bottle falls out and breaks" approach ;)

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makendo made it!(author)2013-12-10

Good luck with the build. If you need to make a bunch of these and want them to stack securely, make the verticals a little longer by the thickness of the ply, and drop them down a similar distance as well. That will create some short legs that will slot into the crate below.

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GardenerMatt made it!(author)2013-12-11

Get out of my head! *LOL* I had been thinking that a way to stack them would be handy.

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makendo made it!(author)2013-12-12

Yeah, I only thought of it when I stacked 3 high and realized interlocking ones might be handy if you have need for multiple crates. I will modify the 3D model to show the stackable option as well.

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mikeasaurus made it!(author)2013-12-09

Great build (if only my beer would last long enough to get use out of the crate)

The commercial version of these always sell out within hours at every liquor store in my area, too. That's what prompted me to make my own. Breweries must love this time of the year, it's like printing money.

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makendo made it!(author)2013-12-09

Makes you wonder why they don't make more of them... do they not like printing money?

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Bio: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture
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