Here in Belgium we have many breweries (micro and big ones) which produce a lot of different beers with all the flavours you can think of. In fact Belgium is one of the most famous beer countries in the world and beer is a part of our culture.
In most Belgian pubs you can order a (metric) meter of beer which are 10 or 12 draft (Pilsner) beers served in a wooden holder. I thought it would be cool to have my own "beer meter" and use it at BBQs and take it to festivals. I made my beer meter from reclaimed pallet boards and an old wooden curtain rod that I was saving to use in a project. It only cost me a bit of wood glue, peanut oil and the electricity consumed by my power tools.
Step 1: Make Your Own Dowels From Cracked Pallet Board
When you disassemble a pallet it happens that the ends get cracks especially when you use brute force like I do. You can cut of the cracked part and use it to make a fire or you can reclaim your reclaimed board to make dowels. We will use the dowels in step 4, so hang on!
There are many techniques to make dowels but the easiest is to hammer a piece of wood through a hole. I drilled two holes in a L-shaped iron scrap and clamped it in my bench vise.
I first used a crafts knife to pre shape the wood and made a sharp point to one end. This will make it easier to hammer it through the first big (10mm) hole.
Then I smashed the 10mm dowel (yes it's a dowel already :-) through the smaller hole to get a 6mm dowel. I also kept two 10mm dowels (15 cm long) to attach the handle to our beer holder.
Next I sanded the dowels to make them smoother. They ended up not that straight but I was happy with them and figured it was time to proceed with the next step.
Step 2: Measure, Draw Guide Lines and Cut
I selected two pallet boards that didn't have any cracks and cut them to length with a miter saw (100cm each). I drew a centre line and divided each board in 10 "squares". Next I marked the centre of each square. I used an other board to make 3 middle pieces (7cm long) and 2 side panels (30 cm long). The middle pieces will attach the top and bottom boards and the side boards will hold the handle (1 meter wooden curtain rod).
I used a 7cm (diameter) hole saw on my drill press to cut out circles. I did not went through the board immediately but preferred to turn it around and saw the second half from the other side. This will give a cleaner cut and it will be easier to remove the wood from your hole saw since it will stick out.
For the bottom board I used a smaller hole saw (5.5cm) and only went 8mm deep. The cuts are made to make it easier to free hand "perfect" circles with a hand held router (set your bit also 8mm deep).
I made a (half) template from a cardboard piece and traced it's shape on the 30 cm long side boards. I used a jig saw machine to cut out the shapes.
Step 3: Glue and Temporary Screws
I first applied a good amount of glue to the joints and aligned them (on sight) on the top board.
I used the dividing lines as a guide to drill pilot holes 15mm from both edges.
I added temporary wood screws to clamp the pieces together. (don't you dare to look at my belly button!)
Step 4: Replace Screws With Dowels
Once the glue was set I removed all the screws and drilled 6mm pilot holes for the dowels (joint after joint).
Add enough wood glue and wipe of the excess after hammering the dowel in the pilot hole.
I used an iron saw to cut of the dowels and then sanded them flush with the board.
The handle is secured with a long 10mm (diameter) dowel at both sides. I also smashed in a small nail to reduce the rotational stress on the glue.
Step 5: Sand and Apply a Finish
I sanded the sharp edges down with a disc sander and a sanding block. I also had to sand the pencil lines away.
After the sanding I applied a coat of peanut oil (stolen from the kitchen) with a piece of cloth.
The oil will protect the wood from spoiled beer (or other drinks) without using poisonous chemicals. Also it makes the wood/grains more vivid. Of course you can finish the wood to your own liking but I wanted to keep it as natural and cheap as possible.