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.
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