Picture of Wooden Beer Bottle Crate
I play for the scenario paintball team Pub Crawling . We have more than 20 members on the team and with a name like Pub Crawling we drink a lot of malted beverages after our games. We travel all over the United States to play paintball and have traveled to Scotland and England for events. In order to keep up our supply of beverages and meet the demands of the team several members have begun home brewing beer.  Naturally bringing a full keg setup for after the game isn't always a reality, and sometimes I just want to have a few beers put in long term storage to try my hand at aging them. Though mostly aging beers is more a matter of testing my patience.

What I really wanted was something that was fully enclosed and wouldn't have a lid that would come open if tipped over or rolled around in the back of a truck or trailer without anyone noticing. Also it had to have dividers for the bottles and I didn't want it to weigh a ton or cost an arm and a leg.

I looked around for plans to make wooden bottle crates to hold beer and could not really find what I was after. So I incorporated a few of the best ideas that met my needs from all of them and this is what I came up with.

Table Saw (though a radial arm saw or skill saw could do it too)

1- 1"x12"x8' Pine Board $10
2- 2'x2'x 1/4" birch panel $10
3/8" Hemp Rope

Assuming you have some rope, glue and screws on hand $20 is enough to make two crates with very little waste wood left over.  These crates each hold 12 bottles and are sturdy enough to take a beating yet aren't so heavy that one person can't carry two of them at the same time.  I will also add that I am no where near good enough of a woodworker to make anything super precise, like cabinets or 90 degree angles.  So if I can make these crates so can you.  It took me about 3 hours to make two crates including the time it took to take all of these pictures.  I'm sure someone who has even the slightest clue on what they are doing could make them even faster.

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bptakoma3 years ago
How about some chalkboard paint on the side -- then you can label/relabel with whatever brew you've got in there.
Yes!!!! outstanding idea!

I happen to have some chalkboard paint that we used to paint my son's closet door - it works great. I am making a few of these crates for my brother in law for Christmas and i have been wondering how to decorate them a little bit so that my sister isn't pissed at me for sending her husband home with 2 "ugly" beer crates.

(please note I don't mean to call these ugly. far from it - i think they're lovely as will my brother in law, but my sister is already miffed at the amount of beer "junk" in their house so i'm afraid i'm going to need to "pretty" them up a bit)

Anyway - i was thinking of laser engraving but I don't really have any good ideas for decorations so i have been racking my brains. chalkboard paint it is!!!

As a side note, we also purchased some magnetic paint and dry erase paint for my office. I painted magnetic paint and then the dry erase on top. Works fairly well - but nowhere near as close to a magnetic dry-erase board as the chalkboard paint is to a real chalkboard.

Either way - good idea!
pubcrawlingpb (author)  DisplacedMic3 years ago
"Utilitarian" :)

They aren't wining any beauty pageants but they do have a rustic farmhouse type of appeal to them. Home brewers tend to go for that kind of stuff.

If someone wanted to go all out they could source some nice oak or walnut instead of scrap pine. Use some miter joints and add a little clear stain to protect them and away you go. But that would probably drive the price up a little more than $10/box and take more than a couple of hours to make them.

I agree though, they do need some finishing touches to them. I like the chalkboard paint idea, possibly on the lid. I'm still leaning to vinegar/steel wool aging. I'm also rolling around the idea of countersinking the screws and using a dowel to cover the holes.
One comment on using a dowel as a woodplug - i've had problems doing that in the past when applying stain - the dowels tend to suck up stain like a sponge and get real dark. it still looks better than a screw but they still stick out. if you cut plugs from the original wood they will at least react the same way to stain in terms of colour....
pubcrawlingpb (author)  DisplacedMic3 years ago
Might be time to buy some plug cutters then. :)
yeah i was thinking of doing the same. any tips on filling in the exposed groove? i know you said you left them in the instructable, but moving forward, how do you plug a non circular hole? whittling knife?
pubcrawlingpb (author)  DisplacedMic3 years ago
Use a piece of scrap from the left over stock and cut a small strip the same size as the hole. Add a little glue and use a mallet to hammer it into place. My blade holding tool often doubles as a mallet.
ha - you mean that thing i bang my tires with to knock them off for a rotation is also a blade holder? ;p

thanks again for all of your help - i'll be sure to let you know when i finish my set of crates.

you've got my vote - i hope you win the engraver!
pubcrawlingpb (author)  bptakoma3 years ago
I like that idea! I may do the tops in chalkboard paint. I am definitely thinking about how to finish these up with some sort of stain or something. They were meant to be a simple easy to build project that I can change over time as I get new ideas. And heck for $10 each it keeps me busy and out of trouble for an hour.
TimG45ACP2 months ago

Thanks for the idea! My brother brews his own beer and I thought this would be a great present for him. (I give him wood stuff and he gives me beer - what could be better!) I made a few changes (18 instead of 12) to incorporate a few other ideas I picked up along the way. It turned out great!

acthompson10 months ago
neo716651 year ago
If you can get your hands on some plastic election signs they make great lightweight dividers (and free). I also use them for a top but don't ship my cases.
Suvo12 years ago
nice....the games begin
LogTrotter2 years ago
I'm going to make one similar to this tomorrow but I will put Jones Soda in it instead.
Iamjpham22 years ago
This is awesome, Absolutely love it. I figure with this design I'm probably going to make one this size and also make one half the size for a 6 pack holder :D Have you ever thought of using a box joint to join the sides? I like to use them because it's a little more secure and you get a nice look to the edges. One last thing I figured if you just drilled a small hole on the top you can put a small locking pin/dowel but Idk how well the top stays in place for your crate. Absolutely love this though
pubcrawlingpb (author)  Iamjpham22 years ago
Thanks for the comment. The lids stay on and fit very tight. They require a bit of force to open.

I did try box joints and was not succesful due to my lack of any real woodworking skills. But I got a router for Christmas and I think with a jig I could do a better job. Its on my list of things to try.
Great idea and really easy, I think I will use the box design but put the dividers a little closer so there is more of them. I can see this being a great firecracker holder box, maybe not as large but the routed slotting sides is a great idea. Thanks man
pubcrawlingpb (author) 3 years ago
I may need to get a dovetail jig:
Upir3 years ago
I'm gonna make a bunch of these to store my mead in. Gonna make X-mas a lot easier when toting them around for gifts too.
pubcrawlingpb (author)  Upir3 years ago
One of the big reasons I wanted these was for storing strong ales or bottle conditioning specialty beers that could take months before they were finished. The problem with cardboard boxes is that they start to fall apart after about a month in a semi-humid environment like a basement or garage. These boxes will last for years I'm sure.

I've never made mead but it is high on my list. To my understanding it can take quite a while for mead to fully ferment and condition as well. What kind of mead do you make?

I've been making mead for two years now, so: still a beginner. :-)

Mead can be drinkable in 6 months, but can age similar to good red wines (sometimes longer is better, I've heard 10 years!) My attempts tend toward 13% alcohol by volume, but fermentation has seemed to take a month to a month and a half, versus the two to three weeks for wines and beers. Some recipes claim 90 days to drinkable, but I haven't tried those.

Clarifying is the part that takes the longest, but I've come to the thought that letting it clear "naturally" instead of adding clarifyers gives me a better idea of when it is really ready to drink. 4-6 months everything settles out and it is clear and tasty!

I should do a mead 'ible for my next batch...
pubcrawlingpb (author)  Alderin3 years ago
I'd very much like to see a good mead'ible!
+1 for the request for a "meadible"
would love to learn more
When I can get ahold of the supplies I'll try an put one up that can be drinkable, and good, in about 3 or 4 months start to finish.
pubcrawlingpb (author)  Upir3 years ago
Just an update, someone did a mead'ible!

Looks good. Will have to try it I think :).
Still just a beginner, and yes some can take time. Aging out like wine. But I have a recipe from the site I go to called JAO that is drinkable in 2 or 3 months after you start it. Though it does get better when it gets older.
jongscx Upir3 years ago
I was just gonna say the same thing...
rycollier3 years ago
I really liked your idea for nice sturdy crates for taking and storing beer. They're especially nice when bottle carbonating. I can get rid of all those crappy cardboard boxes and make my closet look a little less like a disaster area. I made one little extra feature. If you cut grooves up the inside sides up front you can make a place for a vertical lid holder when distributing beverages.
beer box.JPG
pubcrawlingpb (author)  rycollier3 years ago
Great Idea!
bullhorn93 years ago
Really nice way to provide the brew!
When you cut off the top edge of one of the end pieces, you could have saved the cut-off and glued it to the edge of the [sliding] top panel. It would've completed the square top edge and looked nice. Then you also wouldn't've needed the finger hole to open the lid with.
Also, are your rope handles long enough so they can cross each other over the top of the box so each box can be carried upright with one hand?
pubcrawlingpb (author)  bullhorn93 years ago
Good idea with the top edge piece.

I spent a lot of time playing around with the length of the rope handles. I tried crossing them over the top like you suggested and while it worked, it wasn't very comfortable. So I opted for shorter handles for two handed carry. I carried two fully loaded crates, each in one hand and just by one handle. Carrying them that way wasn't difficult and even fully loaded they are not that heavy.
alanemartin3 years ago
I would suggest that you only glue the butt joints where you put the sides together. That way, the bottom panel can float. If the size of the bottom panel is too close to exactly the size of your grooves, seasonal expansion/contraction might make it pop.

Nice job, overall.
pubcrawlingpb (author)  alanemartin3 years ago
You're right, I was thinking that when I was putting it all together as well. Someone made a great suggestion of cutting a rabbet into the short sides and locking them in a dado on the long sides. Then all that would be needed is some glue to hold the whole thing together.

There area a lot of little tricks like that of which I am sure more experienced wood workers know of.
For anyone interested in doing this, there is a great instructable by pfred2 on how to make jointed boxes here:
Nicely done and well thought out. I can see needing to build multiple copies of these as one just doesn't seem like it would be enough. It is also a great gift idea for the holidays for the beer lover you know.
pubcrawlingpb (author)  stevemoseley3 years ago
Four of them hold 48 bottles. You get roughly 55 bottles or so out of a typical 5 gallon batch of beer. So it falls into the "almost" category.

But you can never have too much beer on hand or too many ways to conveniently store it!

I made four of them so far, two for aging and two for general transportation. I may make another four with some of the improvements listed here at some point in the future.
What kind of dado set do you have on your saw there?
pubcrawlingpb (author)  DisplacedMic3 years ago
It is an old Sears Craftsman set. I don't know if they make it anymore. I know Freud makes a nice looking set.
stupid question: are they pretty standard? i have a fairly cheap 10" craftsman table saw - could i just pop into HD and find a set to switch in and out of my saw?
pubcrawlingpb (author)  DisplacedMic3 years ago
Oh ya, the blades are pretty much a standard size, though I think dado sets are a little smaller than 10". But you might run into an issue with the arbor on your table saw. If it is too short you won't be able to stack many blades or chippers on it. Considering the dado is only 1/4" wide though it will probably work ok. But you might right into a problem if you try to run more blades/chippers to make a thicker dado.

This would be saw specific so check the manual. I know that some of the smaller portable "contractor" style saws often have short arbors.

Worse comes to worse you could set up your fence and make two passes 1/8" off with a regular blade that has a wide kerf. That should cut a 1/4" wide slot with no issues.
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