Introduction: Build a $10,000 Wine Stopper [or Justify Growing Your Shop]

[SIDE NOTE #1: I'm serious.]

[SIDE NOTE #2: I'm over that now.]


Decades, even centuries, overdue, it's finally here - THE FIRST, HONEST WINE STOPPER.

It isn't difficult to find information about making custom wine stoppers, since designs and methods about making them seem boundless on the Net (there may even be some available outside the Instructables web pages, though I think that may just be a Net myth). Those [sometimes] frivolous facts aside, I am, today, revealing the first, honest, custom wine bottle stopper in the history of wine stoppers. One which will do any opened bottle of wine justice. In fact, thanks to this remarkable Instructable, even a ten thousand dollar bottle of wine, or vinegar, as the case may be, can be, tastefully, protected from spills or contaminates in a wholly sincere manner.

Using the techniques offered herein, you can cherish and even flaunt the remarkableness of that ten thousand dollar bottle of wine/vinegar by salvaging its cork for posterity.

In elaboration [and so that this instructable isn't too short], it remains, as hinted at, there are thousands, perhaps millions of wine stoppers and plans for making them available on the Net. There are tall ones, short ones, wide ones, narrow ones, pretty ones and there are ugly ones. Some are made of wood, some steel, some plastic, others are of glass or rock. However, only one represents relative history and purpose with honesty, and you have the good luck of having happened upon it, here, on Instructables.

Today, tomorrow and for, possibly, an infinite number of days after, thanks to me and the operators of yellow robots, you have been endowed with the unique opportunity to duplicate this vineyard related wonder. You, too, will, following these instructions, be able to wow your friends and associates, then sit in wonder, as they sit speechless, obviously unable to utter even a word about the magnificence of your accomplishment (you may find them so awestruck they avoid any mention of your fantastic stopper altogether).

A final bit of good news, before moving on to something productive: This amazing product of your ibilization skills will work on both red and white wine. Is that just amazing, or what?

So, with not even a bit more ado, here is what you'll need:



In event this ible reaches other than only ibleoids and, more specifically, individuals who are future Darwin Award winners [or wannabees], this is my legal disclaimer - don't do half of what I tell you. Really. Don't. Drinking three or more bottles of wine and running even hand tools can get wild and, though it may not hurt now, it can. A lot, when you wake up. Also, if need be, you may delay starting this project for a day or two. Wine hangovers can be rough.

Just to be safe, this is all about humor. Yeah. That's it. Nothing serious was intended here (but if you take any of this advice you may have even more waste and may find merit in buying additional bottles of wine).


1) BOTTLES OF WINE: You gotta love it, because, right up there with "hold my beer," I'm telling you you need to purchase not just one, but at least two bottles of wine to pull this off. In fact, anyone who knows anything about building knows you need to factor in waste, to cover mistakes and other factors. Accordingly, you should proceed accordingly and buy at LEAST three bottles of wine (there has to be a paradox, or at least an irony in there somewhere).

2) DOWEL SCREW: You'll need one 2" dowel screw (this is just a threaded rod with wither wood screw threads on both ends or threads that accommodate a nut) with 10-24 threads on one end and wood screw threads on the other.

Since these are made of iron and you will not be modifying yours, you should only need one, even if you make a mistake. Though they can be hurt, it's hard to do.

3) NUTS: Two nuts to fit your 10-24 dowel screw.

4) GLUE: Some 5-Minute or other epoxy or other glue (e.g., E6000). You may not need this now or any time within weeks of building this. It is only for use in event the threaded rod holding your stopper together develops play. If it does, you can weld the dowel screw in place.

5) SANDPAPER: 60 grit if you use sandpaper to shape the cork. 150 grit for smoothing. Normally, jumping from 60 grit to 150 grit is a fools errand. However, cork is soft and this is that rare occasion when you can get away with such a huge jump.


The means of duplicating my processes are many. I know this because I've tried several, and each works. Here, I will attempt to share the tools involved with a brief description so you may pick and choose, as you deem appropriate.

Many of the tooling suggestions are for convenience. Too, purchasing every tool mentioned increases the cost of making your stopper, essentially, increasing the value of the end product. Regarding that fact, be mindful of that each additional cork you make using tools you bought to make the first may reduce the market value of your original cork.

NOTE: If encumbered/blessed by a significant other, additional bottles of wine, depending on personality, can be used to ply your mate for an endorsement for some of the suggestions below.

1a) DRILL MOTOR: A drill motor can serve two purposes. First, it can be used to drill holes in the corks. Second, it can be used to turn the cork while sanding it.


1b) DRILL PRESS: A drill press could be an asset here. It could be considered a wonderful alternative to the drill, since it can both drill holes and be used to hold the cork while sanding it.

Again, keep in mind purchasing a drill press for this ible and using it one time to make a single wine stopper would give you the opportunity to bask in the knowledge yours was not some dime store stopper. To that end, I, highly, recommend the $1,800.00 (after taxes) drill press in the photos, above.

NOTE: You may find other uses for the drill press, like drilling holes in other things.


1c) WOOD LATHE: A lathe can serve more than one purpose in the construction of your stopper. It can be used to, first, drill the cork, then, second, shape it. Too, in a pinch, you can go on to use it for other things without reducing the value of your first stopper too horribly much.

As a general rule, a lathe has the additional advantage of requiring accessories and tools, like additional chucks, turning knives and so forth, opening the door to growing your shop. In theory, you could even use ownership of one to justify taking over an entire garage bay, a bedroom, portion of the front room, or whatever you can imagine and pull off. It is quite possible to spend about as much on knives, chucks and other lathe accessories as on the initial lathe.

It is a great excuse to require yet another tool. As iterated before, the increased cost (while you can pick up a used Harbor Freight lathe for a couple hundred, some lathes costs thousands) can only add value to your stopper. In this instance, I would recommend the Powermatic, in the photo, a Oneway or similar lathe. A new one would run, all in with taxes, around six grand.

2) DRILL BIT(s): A drill bit. About 3/32nds, but no more than 1/8" should do it. However, to be safe, you may want to buy an entire set. You wont use them for this Ible, but safe is safe. If you want to be even more safe, maybe a set of Forstner bits would be in order too (e.g., you may be able to justify the purchase by an alleged need to build a jig to hold the cork for drilling and shaping).

3a) VACUUM: A vacuum may be beneficial during the sanding operations. In fact, using one may be a better option than breathing in the dust (as part of an attempt to keep work area clean). In a pinch, you can use it to do the floors. You could even wrap it and give it to your mate as a birthday or special holiday gift to justify the purchase (flowers die and lingerie wear out, after all).

NOTE: It would, probably, be a good idea to empty the bin before wrapping it though.

4) PLIERS, VICE GRIPS or CHANNEL LOCKS: A pair of pliers, vice grips or channel locks will allow you to grip even the most stubborn of dowel screws.

NOTE: This is another great opportunity to grow your tool collection. For example, to be safe, you could buy all three, in varying sizes, just in case you don't like one or the other. This "need" could even be modified to include a set of end wrenches and sockets. It could go without saying, because you may be dealing with two nuts at the same time, one of each, or two of one would be justified.

5) DRUM-DISK SANDER: Mindful of how much the value of your wine stopper increased by the purchase of a drill press, if you do not have a drum-disk sander, this could be considered another opportunity to increase the value of your wine an option to the purchase of a lathe, since it could be used in combination with a hand drill to and/or Alternate "4" or number 6) BELT SANDER - A belt sander, while not as impressive as a stationary sander, could allow you to play the role of wine stopper maker extraordinaire using a different approach, or you could just lie to yourself and your mate and claim it is a critical part of pulling off a several thousand dollar wine stopper (see mention of ten thousand dollar bottle of wine, above, and ask yourself if you want to risk a cheap stopper for an expensive bottle of vinegar.

6) DUST COLLECTOR: Of course, if you're going to invest in a lathe, a drum disc sander or even a hand sander, you need to consider a dust collection system. This does not mean you can just go out and buy a shop vac and be done with it. That might work for a hand sander, but the larger tools need the real heft an actual dust collector offers. Including hoses, piping, gates, remotes, pleated filters (versus mere bags) and you can bring the value of your stopper up another one to three thousands, or even more.

Step 2: Building the First Honest Wine Stopper

If the tool list did not give enough information to qualify this as an ible, I offer the following options:

[If you are going to drill the hole for the dowel screw using a drill motor or a drill press]

1) Mark the exact center of the wide end of the each cork.

The first picture shows a center finder from a combination square set being used. There are many different center finders you can buy on line. In a pinch, you can use a ruler, but will have to make several lines from the edge at various spots around the circumference of the circle, then mark as close as you can get to center based on them.

2a) Use your hand drill, or your new drill press, to drill a hole in each cork at the center point you marked. The hole should not penetrate the corks more than 1". If necessary, wrap tape around the bit 1" from the end to show you when to stop drilling.

NOTE: If you took advantage of this project as an excuse to purchase a new drill press, you may be able to justify buying a good vice too. It will not be ideal for holding wood items and things like corks for drilling, but you can always discover that after the fact, then fain just learning this to justify purchasing a far less expensive wood screw clamp (e.g., Jorgenson clamp).


[Drilling the dowel screw holes using a lathe]

2b) Install the cork in a chuck on the drive end of your new lathe. Next, install a Morse taper drill chuck in the tail stop and install a drill bit the size of the dowel screw, minus the thread area.

Run the drill bit into the cork. Again, go no deeper than about half way.

Repeat the process for the second cork.

[Shaping the cork to fit the wine bottle using a drill motor or drill press]

3) Cut about 1/2" off the end of the cork. The shorter cork will be far less prone breakage, if someone is consumed by lust for the contents of a bottle (how I know this is another story and I haven't decided on a alias to protect the guilty).

4) Insert the dowel screw in one of the corks, but no further than the end of the threads (about half way). If you use the kind of dowel screw with threads for a nut on one end, and if you need to, you can install two nuts of the threads, jam them together and then use a wrench to run the dowel into the first cork.

5a) Insert the portion of the dowel screw still visible into your drill.

6a) With the drill holding the dowel and cork, run the cork against about 60 grit sandpaper, until it slips into a bottle, but stops about half way. Then switch to 150 grit to put a finer finish on the cork. You can go to 320, if you want an even smoother finish.

NOTE: This is where you can justify either a belt sander or a floor model drum-disk sander to speed up the process.


5b) Screw the second cork onto the dowel.

6b) Install the two mounted corks in the lathe chuck, then use your lathe knife of choice to taper one of the two corks.

NOTE: To simplify determining when the cork will fit a wine bottle, you can use an 3/4" end wrench as a gauge. I use a gauge I made for this purpose, shown in the photos.

7b) When the cork fits about half way into the bottle, switch to 150 grit sandpaper, then 320, if you want a smoother finish.

8) When putting the two corks together, do not turn too tight, since cork isn't know for its holding strength. In truth, this might be a good place to use the epoxy I said you probably wouldn't need......

Step 3:

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