Introduction: Swedish Style Wine Rack - on the "Cheap"

About: I am an electrical engineer by day, musician by night

A quick note to start off... I have never taken a shop class and do not have any real carpentry skills to speak of, so don't take my instructable as the only/best way to build something like this!  Also, since I do not frequently engage in woodworking, I don't have many tools... my point being that if I can do this, so can you!

This instructable will show you how to make a Swedish style wine rack out of garden stakes and a few 2x4's.  I've always been fond of this style of wine rack, but they can be expensive.  A wine rack similar to the one presented here can easily cost $300 or more; plus you will likely still have to put it together yourself, pay for shipping, and if you're going to stain it, you'll have to pay for that and do that yourself too.  I spent a lot of time looking online and in stores at various types of wine racks and found that the per bottle cost was around $2.50-$3.00.

My goal was to build the largest capacity possible that would fit in the space I had for it and pay less than $100.  My result was a 96 bottle wine rack that cost $96.48 (before taxes)... just over $1 per bottle!  And if I didn't stain it, it would have been $75.93 before taxes ($0.79 per bottle).  The final dimensions of my wine rack are: 36.5"x72"x10.5" (WxHxD)

Saw - Circular, Table, Mitre, Hand... take your pick, I used a circular saw
Sander - Palm, Hand ... I mostly used my electric palm sander
Tape Measure
Electric Drill
3/32" Drill Bit
Phillips Head Screwdriver Drill Bit

Materials :
3@$3.97 - #6x1 Phillips Head Wood Screw (100 pc)
3@$4.97 - #8x2 Phillips Head Wood Screw (50 pc)
4@$2.89 - 2”x4”x96” Stud
3@$6.22 - 1”x2”x24” Garden Stakes (25 pc)
1@$8.37 - 1”x2”x36” Garden Stakes (25 pc)
1@$5.96 - Sandpaper – ¼ Electric Palm Sander sheets (5 sheets)
1@$4.56 - Stainable Wood Glue

Stain Supplies (if applicable):
1@$12.99 - Stain (1 qt)
1@$2.99   - Latex Gloves (2 pair)
2@$0.79   - 2” Paintbrush
1@$2.99   - Plastic Dropcloth (9'x12', 0.5mil)

Step 1: Starting Small - My Methodology

Before I go much further I'd like to point out a couple of things... First, I am placing this wine rack with one side against a wall.  Second, I don't have the patience, time, tools, or skill to make this thing exact in every dimension.  Third, I'm going to use the side of the wine rack that is against the wall to hide imperfections; I will refer to this side as the "ugly" side.  Finally, I'm going for a handcrafted look, so it is OK to have some slop!

My method for building this wine rack is to keep all the "ugly" pieces of wood on the back side of the rack and also use the back side to hide any dimensional mismatches.  You'll want to pay extra attention to the orientation of all the pieces as you attach them to one another in order to preserve the ugly/good sides.  The front side of my wine rack turned out beautifully!

Below is a picture of the basic building blocks for this project.  There is a bundle of 25, 1x2x36" garden stakes and a bundle of 25, 1x2x24" garden stakes.  The 36" kind are used to make the long pieces of the shelves while the 24" kind are used for all the little pieces of the shelves.  Lowes has a really good deal on these things... just pay attention and avoid bundles with a lot of warped, splintered, or ugly pieces.

My wine rack requires 2, 33.5" pieces and 11, 10.5" pieces per shelf.  This works out nicely because that leaves just enough room before the stakes start getting pointed.

Step 2: Starting Small - the First Shelf - Long Pieces

When I built this, I started by making just one shelf as a proof of concept.  The next several sections will guide you through the construction of a single shelf.  For me, it took about 45 minutes to sand, measure, and cut the material for one shelf.

It is up to you whether you want to sand or cut first... I did it both ways during the project.  Personally, I preferred to take 3 or 4 of the garden stakes and sand them in all the "long" dimensions at the same time, then measure them all, then cut them all, and then sand the remaining sides (the small 1x2 sides).

For the 2 long pieces of the shelf I used a length of 33.5".  You can easily scale this project to your required dimensions.  The spacing from bottle to bottle is 4", so the total length of each shelf should be (4" * #bottles + 1.5").  The extra 1.5" comes from the end piece.  So, my wine rack has 8 bottles on a shelf and thus a total shelf length of 33.5".  If you go much beyond this length, you will probably want to use 3 or more long pieces per shelf to give it some extra strength.

Step 3: Starting Small - the First Shelf - Short Pieces

As described previously, my wine rack has 8 bottles on a shelf.  This means that there are a total 11 short pieces needed: 1 for each bottle (8), 1 for the end, and 2 to comprise the mounting pieces.

I found that the depth of the shelf was best at about 10.5".  This affords some slack in the cutting of the smaller (1x2x24") stakes in case you need to chop off an ugly end or something.  Don't forget that you lose some length due to the tapering of the stakes.  Tweak this dimension as desired.

Take 6 of the 1x2x24" stakes, sand them, and measure 10.5" and 21" from the square end.  Cut at the 10.5" and 21" points and sand the ends.  This will leave you with 12, 10.5" pieces.

(sorry about the blurry pictures)

Step 4: Starting Small - the First Shelf - the Framework

You should now have 2, 1x2x33.5" pieces and 12, 1x2x10.5" pieces.  You will need a tape measure, level, and the wood glue.  This is where it starts getting tricky...

You will want to keep track of the orientation of things, particularly the good vs. ugly sides.  The way I did it was to place the ugly side facing up and away from me at this step.

Find a level place to do this as it will make it easier... for me, that place was my downstairs bathroom :)

Place the 2 long pieces parallel to one another and separate the pieces by 10.5" (measuring from the outside of each piece).  Make sure to take the measurement at several places along the length of the pieces to ensure that the pieces are indeed parallel.

Next, place a small amount of wood glue at all 4 ends of the long pieces... a little less than what is shown in the picture will keep it from oozing out.

Now take 2 of the short pieces and place their 1" (0.75") side across the 2 long pieces where you put the wood glue.  You will want to make sure to get the end side as flush as possible.  Also note that the inside and the bottom of these pieces will be the most visible, so keep any ugly sides to the outside and the glue side.

Let dry according to the instructions on the glue you are using.  Once dry, you can put some screws in to help solidify the frame.  Flip the frame over gently so that it is now right side up.

To do this, I measured 5/8" from the outside edge of the frame on both sides; that is, I cheated the position of the screw 1/8" to the outside from center.  I did this to make sure that I wouldn't have the screw from the next piece up running into the this screw.  The other dimension can be centered (3/8").  Mark this location and, use the 3/32" drill bit to make a pilot hole for the screw.  Then use the drill to drive the screw into the hole.  Make sure that you get the screw head all the way past flush (counter sunk) so that it won't interfere with the next step.

Step 5: Starting Small - the First Shelf - Finishing Construction

You should now have the frame of the shelf facing right side up.  On each of the long pieces measure every 4" and mark that position.  Also, on each of the long pieces measure 1.5", 5.5", 9.5", etc. and mark those positions.  These will be your guides for placing the cross pieces (the short pieces).  It will also be easier if you place the ugly side away from you so that you can be sure to keep the good side nice and flush.  Also, be sure that you look at all the short pieces and chose which side you want to be in the front and also which side you want facing up.  The 2" (1.5") side of the short pieces will be facing up.

Apply the wood glue in all the blocks that you marked off on the long pieces (0-1.5", 4-5.5", 8-9.5", etc.).  Carefully place each cross piece being sure to line them up with their marked positions and be sure to keep them very flush across the front.  Also make sure the 2 end pieces are very flush or slightly less than flush so it won't interfere with the attachment later.

After the glue is dry, you can add screws.  The only positions I measured at this point were the end pieces... this was to make sure that I missed the screws underneath.  In this case, I cheated the attachment toward the inside of the shelf by 1/8" from the center point.  The other positions I just eyeballed since they were non-critical.  Use the 3/32" drill bit and drive the screws in, just below flush.

After I had finished this I took some wine bottles and tried out the shelf to make sure it would hold.  Turns out it does!

My wine rack uses a total of 12 shelves separated by 6"... so now just rinse and repeat 11 times!

Step 6: Prepping the Legs

For this step you'll need a tape measure, pencil, saw, and a sander.

Take the 4, 2x4x96" pieces and measure out to 72" inches.  I suggest that you take a close look at your pieces and figure out which ends to cut off due to the ugly factor and also due to any bending or twisting along the length of the boards.  Cut the boards at 72"... it might be helpful to mark the factory cut edge in some way so that it is easy to identify later.  This will keep you from having to plane the side that you cut since you can use the factory cut edge on the bottom.

Take your sander to all sides.

Step 7: Staining (Optional)

So, you've decided that you're brave enough to stain this beast.  I must say that I had pretty mixed results with this, so you might want to take a little more time than I did.  It took me about 25 minutes to stain each shelf and about 5 minutes for each of the legs.  I only did 1 coat since I put it on a little thick.  You will need: plastic drop-cloth, paint brushes, stain, and latex gloves.

The way I did the shelves was as follows...  Place the ugly side facing up and the underneath side facing towards you.  Starting at the top of one side, work your way across and then go back to the starting side and do the underneath parts of the cross pieces, then the underneath of the bottom (good side) of the long piece.  Wrap up the back side by doing the left and right ends.  Now flip the shelf over so that it is sitting on the ugly side.  Start on one side on the top, work your way across and down as before.  Repeat for all shelves.  Don't forget the little 3/4" side underneath the end pieces!

For the legs, I started with the ugly sides as usual, specifically I started with the ugly 4" (3") side facing up.  I stained that side and then rotated the boards 90 degrees such that the ugly 2" (1.5") side was facing up.  I stained that side and then rotated the boards 180 degrees such that the good 2" side was facing up and the good 4" side was facing towards me.  Then I stained the 2 good long sides and the ends.

Give all the pieces sufficient time to dry.  It was really cold in my garage when I was doing this since it was winter, so I gave everything 12 hours to dry.  After 12 hours, I flipped everything over such that the ugly sides were now facing up so that they could get some drying too (since I put them down wet... which you might not want to do). 

Step 8: Prepping for Final Assembly

We're nearly ready to put all the pieces together!  The method I used for attachment is a little tricky, and I'd probably do something easier if I were to ever do this again.  The strategy was to pre-drill all the holes and use the holes to align everything.  The thing I would change would be to use larger bolts and go through the 2x4 legs and the mounting pieces of the shelves.  Instead, I used multiple smaller screws from the inside of the shelves into the 2x4 legs... my idea was to keep the screws from being visible on the outside of the legs.  But it would have been much easier to go all the way through all the pieces... oh well, my way worked and I'm not going to change it now.

With that aside, here is how I prepared the pieces for assembly.  From the flush side of each shelf, measure 1", 2", 8.5", and 9.5".  Measure 5/8" from the bottom side of the mounting piece.  Mark the intersection of these points.  Using the 3/32" drill bit, drill all the way through these points.  Be sure to do all 8 locations!  On the legs, measure 3.75" from the bottom (factory cut) side.  The shelves should be spaced by about 6", so depending on how tall you are making this mark every 6" from 3.75" (9.75,15.75,21.75,etc.).  Also measure 1" and 2" from the edge that is destined to be the outside most edge (keep the legs flush with the front and back of the shelves, the front most importantly).  Drill a pilot hole at all of these points.  If you are doing it my way, don't drill all the way through the 2x4, just enough to make it easy for the wood screws (#8x2") to go in.  In fact, I took the wood screws and drilled them into these holes and then took them out.  It makes it easier to attach things later.

You should now be ready to put all the pieces together.

Step 9: Final Assembly

This is it... the moment of truth!

My method was to put the screws into the mounting pieces of the shelves such that the tips just stick out of the other side of the mounting piece.  I started the final assembly using the good side so that I could get it nice and flush on the good side.  Place all the good sides down, line up the screws with the holes in the legs, make sure the front of the shelf is flush with the front of the leg (if you measured right, this part should be easy), and then drill in the screws (just go in enough to keep everything together).  Another item to note, I took 2 of my (slightly) longer shelves and put them at the bottom and the top ends first to set the width across the length of the legs.  Then put the rest of the shelves in between the legs, line up the holes, make sure things are flush, and screw things together (again just enough to hold it together).  Once you are satisfied with everything, screw everything together.  Now you should have all the shelves attached to 2 of the legs.  Carefully flip the whole assembly over such that the good side is now facing up.  Repeat the steps above to attach the last 2 legs.  Stand it up... and...

CONGRATS!  It's done! 

I couldn't believe mine actually stood up on its own on the first try, but it is actually pretty well balanced...

I hope you enjoyed this instructable!