Introduction: Wine Rack

I was asked by my brother if I could make him a wine rack, for at least 12 bottles, to put in his glass fronted cupboard. He sent me a link to something that he wanted and the dimensions of the space so I came up with a couple of ideas. My first idea unconventionally had the bottles facing bottom out so the bottles and label were presented to you, unfortunately after I sketched it out the dimensions of the space couldn't accommodate this idea.

In the end I went for a more traditional layout. So the bottles necks are to the front supported at both ends with strips of timber with holes cut on the tops to stop the bottles from moving.

In terms of design I like the rustic look and love waney/live edges on wood so I asked if he wanted something a little more interesting. I am glad he said yes, so I decided to use some yew I had left from previous projects.


Yew wood - a few pieces 50mm x 50mm x 500mm x (20" x 2" x 2")

Oak wood - 2No 100mm x 15mm x 800mm (4" x 5/8" x 32")

Screws - 24No



Table saw


Drill and drill bits


Step 1: Horizontal Timbers

I had a few offcuts of yew left from previous projects that measured around 500mm x 50mm x 50mm (20"x2"x2") that I used to rip to a more sensible width. I ripped each piece to around 20mm and ended up with six pieces of varying length. I left them at their maximum length at first - you can tell from the photos the yew width varied hugely from end to end so I wanted the maximum length I had so I could plan my holes the best I could.

I started off by drawing on the centreline of each bottle on a scrap bit of MDF so I could move these lines around on the yew to find the beast layout. When I was happy with the position I marked them on ready for cutting.

I cut the part-circles on the drill press with the back of the yew referenced with a makeshift fence (a straight bit of timber clamped to the drill table) and I line drawn on so I could line up everything up well. As I was drilling part holes the yew pieces needed to be clamped to the drill press too as the forces are exaggerated quite a lot when not cutting full circles. I knew I needed to do this but didn't with my first hole and the timber together with my hand were dragged toward the drill bit. My thumb did get a bit of a drilling but a few minutes, and a plaster/Elastoplast later my yew was firmly fixed to the drill table. As you can see from the photos some of the holes were very close to the edge and very minimal, I did test a wine bottle on it and it did seem to work alright.

Next I needed to make the rear rails. These were going to be a little more tricky as I didn't have a drill bit large enough. I therefore decided that a router would be the best way to cut these but as these were at the edge I couldn't could them with a circle making jig so I made a template to use with a pattern bit. I initially used a circle cutting jig on my router to cut a circle in some mdf. I then ripped this along the circle to make a segment template.

I then used this template clamped to a workbench and the yew piece to trace out the segment on to the wood. Remove the waste before with a normal drill help or just removing little by little with the router bit. Again some of these holes were quite bit and others were very minimal.

Step 2: Side Panels

For the side panels I had two bits of oak that I first ripped to 50mm (2") and the cross cut in to 4 pieces 400mm and 4 pieces 200mm long. The height was determined by the amount of timber I had left - I worked out that I could only have 400mm maximum from the wood I had left which tied in alright with the dimension of the space it was going to fit in. I determined the width of the panel by looking at a wine bottle to see where I wanted to support it.

As the oak I had was only 15mm thick I knew that I didn't want to use biscuits and I couldn't use pocket hole screws. I therefore needed to do some proper woodwork, so opted for half lap joints. If I was in the US I'd probably have a dado stack, but I think they aren't legal in Europe, so I ended up using my normal blade. I could have used a router, as this would have been quicker, but I didn't have any safe way set up to cut these.

I have a sliding extension on my table so I used that but a crosscut sled would work just as well. I adjusted the depth of my blade to just under half the width of the wood and made multiple passes at both ends of the cross pieces and at the ends in off-centre for the upright pieces. Once I was close to the required width of the joint I made very light passes, testing the fit after each pass. I then raised the blade a fraction and removed a slight bit of the cross pieces until the two bits of the joint made a flush face.

Once they were all cut I sanded the internal edges of the timber (as these would be more difficult later) and glued and clamped the panels together.

Step 3: Bringing It Together

Now that all the bits had their holes in I cut them to the maximum size I could to fit them in the cupboard with a little bit of wiggle room either side.

I then set out my screw holes for the front and rear yew pieces on the side panels. I then predrilled and countersunk the side panels and pre-drilled the ends of the yew. Note that the rear pieces need to be further down than the front ones so the bottles aren't on too much of an incline.

I then used an oscillating bobbin sander to round over the smaller holes and to smooth over and sand finish the larger ones. Once I was happy that the bottles were going to fit in nicely I went on to the sanding of all the faces, to the side panels and the yew cross pieces. I sanded with 100, 150, 180, 240 and 320 grit to get a nice finish on the wood. This was then followed by three coats of danish oil.

Step 4: Finished

Once dry I assembled the wine rack and tested it with it fully loaded.

I was very pleased with the outcome and it will be fine for holding bottles in the cupboard or just as good freestanding.
I'm not sure how well it will fit in my brothers cupboard, as he lives in Germany, so I need to send it to him. If he got his measurements right then it definitely will do!

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Shelving Contest 2016

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