Introduction: How to Build a Custom Wine & Liquor Cabinet

About: It's said that to perfect a skill takes about 10,000 hours of work and study. If that's the case I've got around 9,000 hours to go. But, like they say, it's not the destination but the journey.

This instructable explains how to build a custom wine and liquor cabinet that displays eight bottles of wine and six wine glasses with plenty of storage for liquor, glasses, mixers, etcetera. It was a challenging project to design and build but definitely helped me grow my woodworking skills. I hope it provides you with some new concepts or woodworking tips to apply to a project of your own.

The dimensions in this instructable can be followed exactly as written or they can be easily modified to meet your personal needs or preferences. Importantly, it makes the assumption that the reader already possesses a certain amount of woodworking experience as well as a suitable collection of the required tools including a table saw and router. I hope you find it interesting and helpful.

Step 1: Project Outline

This project is comprised of three component pieces: a wine and glass display module, a storage cabinet and a base.

The wine module and cabinet can be constructed from a single 4'x8' sheet of oak plywood. An additional amount of 1/4", 1/2" and 3/4" solid oak will be needed for the top, doors, case trim etc.. The approximate amount of material is noted in each relevant step.

Step 2: Making the Curved Top and Cabinet Accents

I've always enjoyed creating my own designs as a way to learn new woodworking techniques. In this case, using curves as a design element accomplished that goal and transformed an otherwise standard cabinet into a more distinctive looking piece of furniture.

Material: Curved Top - Solid Oak: 1 piece 1" x 8" x 6'. Curved Cabinet Accents - Solid Oak: 1 piece 1" x 4" x 6', 2 pieces of Oak plywood (cut to final size): 3/4" x 10 1/2" x 31" and 4 pieces of solid Oak for edge trim: 3/4" x 10 1/2" x 1/2".

The sequence to create these pieces is as follows:

Step 1: Cut 8" Oak board into 2, 32" long pieces. Cut 4" Oak board into 2, 31" pieces.

Step 2: Glue the solid Oak edge trim to the sides of both 31" pieces of Oak plywood.

Step 3: Edge glue the two large Oak board pieces for the wine module top together (photos 1 & 2). Then edge glue the solid Oak fronts to the Oak plywood for the cabinet top and bottom. Note: due to possible thickness differences in the solid oak and plywood, some resawing (before assembly) may be necessary.

Step 4: As seen in the pictures make a curved template out of 1/2" MDF using a flexible metal yardstick held at the desired curve using small nails. Cut it out using a jigsaw or bandsaw and sand the template smooth (photos 3 & 4).

Step 5: Use the template and a pencil to trace the curve to the top and cabinet pieces. Then, while staying slightly outside the drawn line, use a jigsaw or bandsaw to cut out the curved front on all three pieces.

Note: The final depth of the top should be approximately 14 1/4" at the center and 12 3/4" at the ends. The final depth of the cabinet top and bottom should be just under 14" at the center and 12 1/2" at the ends.

Step 6: Clamp the template to the top just slightly behind the curve and, using a flush trim bit on your router, trim the waste from the top to get a nice smooth curve that perfectly matches the template. Repeat for the two cabinet accent pieces (photos 5 -7).

Step 7: Clamp the solid wood top to your work surface and, using a round over bit on your router, round the curved front (top and bottom) and the top of the sides. Next, round over the curved fronts (top and bottom) of the accent pieces but not the sides (photos 8 -10). Important: Using a scrap piece clamped to the work piece will help eliminate chip out when routing.

Step 3: Building the Cabinet, Face Frame & Doors

The sides, top, bottom and shelf are all cut from the 4' x 8' Oak plywood panel. I used a router to cut the dados for the sides using the jig shown in the photos. The jig allows you to easily match the size of the dado to the thickness of your plywood. My instructable: Create Perfect Dados with this Router Jig, explains how to easily build one.

Note: I generally stain and finish all my project parts before assembly. For me, it just makes things a lot easier. In this case, at the very least, I highly recommend staining and finishing the interior surfaces of the cabinet and back panels as well as the entire shelf and face frame before assembly as shown in the photos.


Material: 5 pieces of Oak Plywood for the top, bottom, sides and shelf. Additionally, cut a 1/4" thick piece of solid oak for the shelf facing.

Part Sizes: Top and bottom 10" x 30", Sides 10" x 27", Shelf 9 1/2" x 30".

Step 1: Cut the plywood pieces to size.

Step 2: On the table saw, cut a 1/4" rabbet down the cabinet sides to accept the cabinet back.

Step 3: In the cabinet sides cut dados for the top, bottom and shelf. The top and bottom dados should be 1/4" deep and set 3/4" below the top and above the bottom of the sides (for proper fit of the cabinet face frame). Clamping the two sides together as shown in the photos and cutting them in one pass assures that they will align perfectly when assembled (photos 1-3).

Step 4: Drill countersunk pilot holes to accept #6 x 1 5/8" drywall screws. Drill three holes in the top and bottom dados and one at each outside edge of the shelf dado (photo 4).

Step 5: Glue the top, bottom and sides together making sure the cabinet is square. Use the drywall screws to further strengthen the cabinet at the top and bottom (photos 5 & 6). Note: shelf and shelf screws will be added in step 8.

Step 6: Next cut filler pieces for the top and bottom of the cabinet. These will provide additional support when joining the wine module and base to the cabinet and provide a greater gluing surface for the face frame. From 3/4" scrap plywood cut 6 support pieces (approximately 8" x 2") and glue one at each end as well as in the center of the recessed top and bottom. Also cut 2 pieces (approximately 22" x 1") long for the front of the cabinet top and bottom to glue the face frame to. When the glue has dried, drill 3 countersunk holes from the inside of the cabinet through each end and center support pieces of the top only. Upon final assembly the wine module will be screwed to the cabinet using 9, 2 1/2" drywall screws.

Step 7: Cut a 27" long piece of 1/2" x 2 1/2" solid oak for a brace centered at the back of the cabinet. Cut a 1/4" deep dado in the brace to accept the back of the shelf and a rabbet on the outside edges of the brace to accept the 1/4" oak plywood back panels. Attach the brace to the cabinet using pocket hole joinery (photo 7).

Step 8: Glue a 1/4" thick piece of solid oak to the front of the shelf and then glue and screw the shelf in place (photo 8).

Step 9: Cut and attach the two back panels using small nails (photos 9 & 10).

Step 10: Next resaw some thicker 1 1/2" wide solid oak stock into 1/8" thick pieces to hide the screws on the cabinet sides and glue to the cabinet after staining.

Step 11: With the cabinet upside down, center the bottom curved accent on the cabinet (with a 1/2" overhang on each side) and flush with the back. Drill 12 pilot holes to screw the accent to the cabinet. Drive the screws in the holes so they extend through the accent but do not penetrate the cabinet. Then, remove the accent, add glue, reposition the accent and drive the screws securing it to the cabinet.

***** complete the face frame before proceeding to step 12*****

Step 12: Using lots of clamps, center the face frame on the cabinet. The face frame should overhang the cabinet by 1/4" on each side and glue in place (photo 11).

Step 13: Attach the doors (minus the glass) based on the instructions listed below (steps 9 & 10).


Next make the face frame using pocket hole joinery. The face frame will overhang the sides of the cabinet by 1/4" to accommodate the side trim that will hide the cabinet screws (photos 12- 14).

Overall dimensions: 31 1/2" x 27".

Material needed: 3/4" solid Oak 1 1/2" wide, total length approximately 112" aftercutting. Also, one piece 2 1/2" wide and approximately 24" long for the center stile.

Dimensions: The cut rails will be 28 1/2" long and the cut stiles will be 27" long. The center stile separating the doors will be 24" long. Note: Before cutting the material for the face frame double check the cabinet dimensions to confirm the size of the pieces.


There are several different ways the doors can be constructed. The method I chose was mortise and tenon. If you are unfamiliar with this method but want to give it a try check out my instructables: Build this Woodworker's Workbench to learn Mortise & Tenon Joinery or Build a learning tower for under $50.

Material needed: 3/4" solid oak (1" x 3"), total length needed: approximately 82".

Dimensions: The rails will be 11" long (9" plus 1" tenons on each end) and the stiles will be 24 3/4" long. When completed each door will measure 14" x 24 3/4".

Construction - After cutting the four rails and four stiles to length:

Step 1: Begin by cutting a 1/4" wide, 1 3/4" long and 1 1/16" deep mortises on each stile with your router or drill press. To make sure the rails and stiles mate properly, mark each piece with reference lines to use as a guide (photo 15).

Step 2: At the table saw, cut the tenons. First, cut the shoulders and then the cheeks (as seen in the previously mentioned instructable). The length of the tenon should be 1". This allows any excess glue to be forced into the slightly deeper mortise on glue up. It's always best to make the tenon a hair thicker than needed and then plane or sand it as needed to get a firm but not overly tight fit.

Step 3: Dry fit to check for square as seen in the photo. Fine tune the joints as needed. (photo 16).

Step 4: During glue up, use a band clamp (photo 17) or the work surface clamping method seen in photo 16.

Step 5: When the glue has dried use a plane to smooth any minor surface irregularities at the junctions of the joints and sand the doors smooth. Then, use a router to cut a 1/4" wide rabbet on the inside of the door to accept a glass insert. Use a chisel to square up the rounded corners (photo 18 -20).

Step 6: Out of cardboard, make a template for the glass you will need for the doors. This will guarantee it is cut to the exact size and fit properly. I chose a glass style called "thin reed" which I purchased at a glass and mirror shop (photo 21).

Step 7: Finally, use a router with a round over bit (or another bit of your choosing) to add a decorative profile to the outside edges of each door.

Step 8: You have a lot of options when choosing hinges for your cabinet doors. I wanted a clean, seamless look so I used Blum 110 degree 1/2" overlay face frame soft close hinges from Rockler (photo 22).

Installation instructions can be found at:

(scroll to the bottom of the page and click on 1/2" hinge installation link). If you decide to use these hinges, a drill press is a definite priority in order to get precisely drilled hinge cups. For this you will need a 35mm Forstner bit.

Step 9: Before installing the doors, use a story stick to position the hinge holes in the proper location on the face frame, remembering that you want the door to overhang the cabinet opening by 1/2" at both the top and bottom of the opening. When you install the door glass at final assembly, use plastic holders to secure the glass to the doors (photos 23 - 24).

Step 10: After installing the hinge cups and preparing the mounting holes in the face frame, lay the cabinet on it's side and secure the hinges to the face frame as shown in the photo (photo 25). Fine tune the position of the door per the Blum instruction PDF.

Step 4: Wine Bottle & Stem Holders

Before building the wine module make the dividers that hold the wine bottles and the stem holders for the wine glasses.

Wine bottle holders: For the 4 dividers you will need 8 pieces of 1/2" solid oak, each one being 3 1/2" wide and 8 1/2" in length (a total of 3 feet of 1/2" x 4" material).

Use a dado blade (photo 2) to cut slots in the center of each piece that is the exact thickness of the oak (approximately 7/16") and half the width (1 3/4"). Slide two pieces together, making sure they are perpendicular and glue.

Glassware stem holders: Making the stem holders is more involved and requires multiple cuts on the table saw. While the exact size of the holders is not critical, mine came from 3/4" solid oak stock and are 11" long. The end pieces are 2" in width and the center piece is 3" in width.

There are a wealth of tutorials and YouTube videos on the internet for making stem holders for glassware that negate the need for an overly long explanation in this instructable. Alternately, if you prefer to skip this step and purchase ready made stem holders, the ones sold by Rockler are a good value.

Step 5: Building the Wine Module

Building the Wine and Glass Module involves quite a few steps. For this reason, the included photos are particularly important and serve as a visual guide to explain the build with each photo including notes to clarify that particular step. If followed sequentially they should make this part of the project easier to complete.

Note: When completed, in addition to the solid wood top, thetop curved cabinet accent will have been attached to the bottom of the wine and glass module (picture 1).

Important dimensions: The walls of the wine bottle compartments must be 1 1/4" thick to accommodate the mitered trim. To accomplish this the inside and bottom walls have 1/2" MDF glued to the back side of the 3/4" plywood. A 7/16" wide dado is cut in the plywood to secure the wine bottle supports.The top of each compartment will have two pieces of 1/2" solid oak glued to them with a 7/16" space in the middle for the wine bottle supports. The outside walls have 1/4" solid oak glued to them with a 7/16" space in the middle for the wine bottle supports. The reason for using thinner stock on the outside walls is so the mitered trim extends 1/4" past the side of the module to accommodate the 1/8" trim that hides the screws used when making the wine module.

Photo 2: My original diagram shows the dimensions of the module.

Photo 3 & 4:ATTACH THE SIDES TO THE TOP - The first step is to attach the sides are to the top which, as seen in the photos, has been placed on it's edge. Note: All parts are glued and screwed together using 1 5/8" drywall screws.

Photo 5 - 7:BUILD AND ATTACH THE MODULE'S INSIDE WALLS AND BOTTOMS - Prepare the inside walls and bottoms of the wine storage compartments to accept the wine bottle holders created in step 4 by cutting a 1/4" deep by 7/16" wide dado centered in each work piece (remember: you do not cut dados in the top or outside walls). Use spacers to position the inside walls, clamp in position and drill three countersunk mounting holes through the top of the module and into each inner wall. Next, after screwing the bottom and inside walls together (forming an L-shaped piece), glue and screw it to the top and side of the module to complete the compartments.

Photo 8 -11: BUILD OUT THE WINE GLASS COMPARTMENT - Cut two 10" x 11 1/2" deep pieces of oak plywood for the interior walls of the wine glass compartment. Then create a 3/4" by 1 1/2" notch by cutting out a piece 3/4" x 10" long. This will allow the front of the walls to hook over the top of the module. Next, cut a filler piece to build out the top (within 1/2" of mating with the front of the walls), and cut two 1/4" x 10" pieces of oak trim to glue to the front of the walls and one of 1/4" oak trim for the filler piece.

Photo 12 & 13:BUILD UP INTERIOR WALLS OF THE WINE BOTTLE COMPARTMENTS -Cut 4, 3 1/2" x 10" pieces of 1/2" solid oak and 4, 1/4" thick pieces 3 15/16" x 10". Glue the 1/4" thick pieces to the sides first (remember we want 1/4" overhang of the beveled trim on the sides) and the 1/2" thick pieces to the top of each compartment. This will leave a 1/2" gap for the wine bottle holders. Note: Since the nominal size of 1/2" oak is actually 7/16" the fit of the bottle holders won't be perfect. It wasn't enough of an issue to me but you can certainly fine tune the width of the filler pieces by a hair or two if you want.

Photos 14 - 16:ADD THE STEM HOLDERS -The next step will be to add the stem holders to the top of the wine glass compartment. Use spacers, as seen in the photos, to position the stem holders and, using two sided carpet tape affix them to the top . Then, turn the module over and drill two countersunk holes for each section of stem holder and screw them in place.

Photo 17: Additional holes will need to be drilled to mount the solid oak top to the wine module. Refer to the notes on the photos for specifics. The holes at the front of the top are sized to accept screws for a secure hold are countersunk, while the rear holes (not countersunk) should be oversized to allow the top to move when expansion and contraction of the wood occurs with seasonal changes in humidity.

Photo 18:INSTALL A CURVED ACCENT TO THE BOTTOM OF WINE MODULE - Carefully center the top curved cabinet accent and clamp it to the bottom of the wine module. Then drill 12 countersunk holes as noted in the photo (directly over the plywood sides and wine glass compartment walls). Remove the clamps, add glue, then reapply the clamps and screw the cabinet accent to the wine module using 2" drywall screws.

Photo 19: INSTALL THE SOLID WOOD TOP - Clamp the solid wood top in position and from the inside of the wine module securely screw the module and top together using the front countersunk holes. Next, using the rear oversized holes, install screws with washers (to facilitate wood movement), being sure there is enough clearance to install the wine bottle holders into position. The stem holders will provide plenty of clearance for the wine glasses and should not be a concern. The two rear screws in the wine glass compartment will not be countersunk because of the washers but will be virtually unnoticeable. Remember: the wine module plywood and solid oak top are a total of 1 1/2" in depth so your screw length for this step should be 1 1/4".

Photo 20: INSTALL THE WINE BOTTLE HOLDERS - This step is impossible to document with photos but is pretty easy to complete. Apply glue to the front of the wine bottle compartment bottom dado and the side grooves and slide a bottle holder assembly all the way to the front of the module. Repeat with a second bottle holder but position it at the rear of the module (at the same depth as the rabbet for the 1/4" plywood cabinet back). This will leave a space between the front and rear bottle holders. When the glue has dried, attach an oak plywood back to the wine module using small nails.

Photo 21: TRIM OUT THE WINE STORAGE COMPARTMENTS - You will need approximately 6' of 1" x 2" solid oak for the trim. Rip the oak to a 1 1/4" width and then bevel the edge. Next miter cut 8 pieces of trim to finish the front of the wine storage compartments as seen in the photo.

Photo 22: TRIM OUT THE SIDES OF THE WINE STORAGE MODULE - Resaw some thicker 1 1/2" solid oak stock into 1/8" thick pieces to hide the screws on the wine module and match the trim on the cabinet.

Step 6: Making the Base

The base is easily constructed using the same template method as for the curved cabinet accents and using pocket hole joinery for assembly.

Materials needed: 1/2" MDF for rail templates, 1" x 4" solid Oak for rails, 2" x 4" Solid Oak for legs.

The dimensions for the base are: 31 1/2"" x 11 3/4"


4 legs, 4 1/4" high. Round the 2 outside edges of the legs with your router using a round over bit.

4 arched rails, cut from 1" x 4" solid oak. 2 long rails, 24 1/2" each and 2 short rails 8 3/4" each.

3 braces made from scrap plywood to attach the base to the cabinet bottom.

Step 1: Make templates (Photo 2-3).

Step 2: Use the templates to transfer the patterns to your material and cut them out with a Jigsaw, staying just outside the marked line. (Same as seen in template creation photo 2).

Step 3: Secure the template to the workpiece with carpet tape and mount it securely to the workbench. Then using a router with a flush trim bit, remove the excess material (Photos 4-6).

Step 4: Drill pocket holes in rails and braces (Photos 7 and 8).

Step 5: Assemble the base by screwing the rails and legs together using clamps. The rails should be offset from the front of the legs by around 1/8" of an inch. Complete the assembly by securing the braces to the base with a brace at each end and one in the middle of the base (Photos 9-11).

Step 7: Final Assembly

With the three component pieces of the project completed, final assembly is all that remains. This is best accomplished as follows:

Step 1:Attach the base to the cabinet - With the cabinet upside down, center the base on the bottom cabinet accent. Then, using the pre-drilled pilot holes in the three mounting brackets, extend the pilot holes into the cabinet. Remove the base and apply glue to the brackets and, while holding the base securely in place, screw the base to the cabinet using 2" drywall screws.

Step 2: Attach the wine display module to the cabinet - Before completing this step you may want to move the unit to it's final location. I chose this option due to the weight of the wine display module. Why struggle moving an extremely heavy piece of furniture if you don't have to? As with the base, center the wine display module on top of the cabinet making sure the nine pre-drilled holes in the cabinet mate with the holes in the curved accent on the bottom of the wine module. Then, using 2 1/2" drywall screws, partially install the screws in a random order before fully driving them into the countersunk holes in the interior of the cabinet top. Note: Additionally, you can always add glue to the cabinet and wine module accent during assembly. My reasoning for not using glue was that, should I ever want to move the unit, it would be easier if I partially disassembled it first.

Step 3: Insert the glass in the cabinet doors - Once again, this is suggested as the last step simply to make it easier to move the unit and avoid the potential for unanticipated damage.

This project was far and away the most challenging I've ever attempted but was definitely worth the time and effort. If you decide to build this wine cabinet don't hesitate to get creative and modify the design to fulfill your needs or personal vision.

Thanks for taking the time to check this instructable out! I hope you found it interesting and that it added some new insight, tips or ideas into your woodworking.

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