Wooden Beer Bottle Crate




About: Pub Crawling is an International Drinking Team with a Scenario Paintball problem. Or something like that.

I play for the scenario paintball team Pub Crawling http://www.pubcrawling.org . We have more than 20 members on the team and with a name like Pub Crawling we drink a lot of malted beverages after our games. We travel all over the United States to play paintball and have traveled to Scotland and England for events. In order to keep up our supply of beverages and meet the demands of the team several members have begun home brewing beer.  Naturally bringing a full keg setup for after the game isn't always a reality, and sometimes I just want to have a few beers put in long term storage to try my hand at aging them. Though mostly aging beers is more a matter of testing my patience.

What I really wanted was something that was fully enclosed and wouldn't have a lid that would come open if tipped over or rolled around in the back of a truck or trailer without anyone noticing. Also it had to have dividers for the bottles and I didn't want it to weigh a ton or cost an arm and a leg.

I looked around for plans to make wooden bottle crates to hold beer and could not really find what I was after. So I incorporated a few of the best ideas that met my needs from all of them and this is what I came up with.

Table Saw (though a radial arm saw or skill saw could do it too)

1- 1"x12"x8' Pine Board $10
2- 2'x2'x 1/4" birch panel $10
3/8" Hemp Rope

Assuming you have some rope, glue and screws on hand $20 is enough to make two crates with very little waste wood left over.  These crates each hold 12 bottles and are sturdy enough to take a beating yet aren't so heavy that one person can't carry two of them at the same time.  I will also add that I am no where near good enough of a woodworker to make anything super precise, like cabinets or 90 degree angles.  So if I can make these crates so can you.  It took me about 3 hours to make two crates including the time it took to take all of these pictures.  I'm sure someone who has even the slightest clue on what they are doing could make them even faster.

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Step 1: Cutting Grooves for Top and Bottom

The first step is to cut the grooves for the top and bottom panels. Using a dado blade in my table saw I set the groove to start at a 1/2" from the edge of the board and to be roughly 1/4" deep.  I ran the board through twice so that there was a groove for both the tops and bottoms.  I actually chose to use the nicer side of the board as the inside and used the really knotted, pitted and banged up side as the outside.  People spend a lot of time trying to stress a board to make it look rustic, I chose boards that were pre-rusticed. 

Step 2: Change Blades

Now take out the dado blade set and swap over to a standard combination blade, rip/cross blade or cross cut blade.  Just a small segway here about blades, spend the extra $5 to to get a carbide tipped blade.  Carbide tipped blades last so much longer than plane steel blades and you'll make that $5 difference back in no time.  A good combination blade really is worth the extra couple of dollars.

Step 3: Cut the Board in Half

Cut the board roughly in half.  Remember I said that this project has enough materials to make two crates.  Cutting the board in half will just make it easier to wield and to make our cuts later.  I actually cut this board about 9" shorter than half but I knew my overall dimensions were not more than 42" long.

Step 4: Cut the Sides

Now we need to cut the sides.  First make four boards that are 12" long, these are the long sides.  Then cut 4 boards that are 8 3/8", these are the short sides.  There should be about a 10" or so piece of scrap left if you cut the board all at once.  This could in theory be used for a third box depending on how much lumber you have.

Step 5: Cutting the Tops and Bottom

Now take a piece of the 1/4" panel and cut it 9" wide.  Do this twice so that you have two strips of panel that are 9" wide by 24" long.  This will leave you with one strip that is roughly 6 inches wide, hang on to this piece of scrap for later.

Take the two 9" wide sections and cut a piece that is 11 1/2" long out of each of them.  The 11 1/2" piece is the bottom of your box and the 12 1/2" piece is the top.

Step 6: Dry Fit

This is a good time to take the panel and do a dry fit to make sure everything works right.  You can trim up any pieces that weren't cut deep enough or aren't quite square before adding glue.  Once you glue it together there isn't any going back so test fitting makes sense.

Step 7: Cut the Door Slide

The top door of the box slides in the grooves at the top of the box.  In order to do this you need to cut the dado groove off from one side of the short wall section.  This will leave the perfect spacing for the top to slide in and provide a bit of friction to stop if from sliding out on its own.

Step 8: Glue and Clamp

Add some glue to the bottom grooves only and put the box together.  Hold everything in place with a clamp or two until the glue dries.  I put a couple of screws in the box to help hold it in place.  I like to pre-drill the screw holes when they are close to the edge to stop the wood from splitting.

Step 9: Cut the Inserts

While the glue is drying it is a good time to cut the inserts to separate the bottles.  Take the 6" piece of left over panel and cut it into two pieces that are 10 1/2" long.  Now take the second piece of 2'x2' panel and cut it into strips that are 6" wide, or equal to the width of the piece of scrap panel.  Odds are that it isn't exactly 6" depending on the kerf width of your blade it could be as narrow as 5 1/4".  Just measure the scrap and make strips from the full panel the same width.

After you have your strips of panel cut make two more of them 10 1/2" long.  Cut the remainder of the strips so that they are 8 3/8" long.  These may need to be a tad short at 8 5/16" depending on kerf width and exact internal dimensions of your box.

In the end you should have 4 pieces that are roughly 6" x 10 1/2" and 6 pieces that are 6" x 8 3/8".

Step 10: Cut the Tabs

Now you need to cut the tabs.  These will interlock and create the pockets to hold each bottle.

To do this quickly and easily put the dado set back on the table saw.

The 10 1/2" sections will need three cuts.  The first cut is in the center of the piece, the other two cuts are centered between that cut and each end of the board.  This means a cut roughly every 2 3/4" depending on the overall length.

The shorter 8 3/8" pieces only need two cuts.  Each cut will be roughly 2 3/4" from the end.  

There is a little bit of play room in this as the thickness of the board and the overall internal dimensions of your box could vary depending how precise you are.  Your kerf width comes into play a lot here as well.

Each cut will be just slightly more than half the depth of the board.  In this example each cut is just over 3" long.  You can test out if your cut is deep enough by interlocking the pieces to see if they fit flush.  If they are not flush you need to cut them a bit longer.

Step 11: Dry Fit the Divider

Now assemble the divider by interlocking the tabs.  If everything lined up right you should be able to put a beer bottle into any section and it will slide right in.  Don't worry if one or two of them are a little tight.

Now put the dividers into the box and fill all of the spots.  If a couple of the spots are to tight to fit a bottle do not try to force it.  Instead take the divider out and widen the interlocking slot a little bit.  This should give the dividers just enough play to snugly hold the bottles.

Step 12: Drill Cover

Take the cover pieces and drill a finger hole in them.  Anything larger than a 1" hole should do.  Try to line the hole up over the dividers, this will stop a beer bottle from trying to fit through the hole should the crate get overturned.

Step 13: Add Rope Handles

Now take your drill and make two holes on either side of the short sides of the box.  I used a 3/8" drill and made the holes 3 3/4" from the top and 1 3/4" from the side of the box. 

Now take about 20" of the rope and put it through the holes, tie a knot on either end and pull it tight.  These are now the handles for the crate.

Step 14: Add Beer and Store

You should now have two wooden crates to store 24 bottles of beer in.  You can also stain/paint/laser engrave/carve whatever you want into these boxes.

We hope you enjoyed this instructable and we all look forward to sharing a cold beer with you in the future.

From your Friends at Pub Crawling http://www.pubcrawling.org

Make It Stick Contest 2

Runner Up in the
Make It Stick Contest 2

4th Epilog Challenge

Participated in the
4th Epilog Challenge

2 People Made This Project!


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57 Discussions


8 years ago on Introduction

How about some chalkboard paint on the side -- then you can label/relabel with whatever brew you've got in there.

8 replies

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Yes!!!! outstanding idea!

I happen to have some chalkboard paint that we used to paint my son's closet door - it works great. I am making a few of these crates for my brother in law for Christmas and i have been wondering how to decorate them a little bit so that my sister isn't pissed at me for sending her husband home with 2 "ugly" beer crates.

(please note I don't mean to call these ugly. far from it - i think they're lovely as will my brother in law, but my sister is already miffed at the amount of beer "junk" in their house so i'm afraid i'm going to need to "pretty" them up a bit)

Anyway - i was thinking of laser engraving but I don't really have any good ideas for decorations so i have been racking my brains. chalkboard paint it is!!!

As a side note, we also purchased some magnetic paint and dry erase paint for my office. I painted magnetic paint and then the dry erase on top. Works fairly well - but nowhere near as close to a magnetic dry-erase board as the chalkboard paint is to a real chalkboard.

Either way - good idea!

"Utilitarian" :)

They aren't wining any beauty pageants but they do have a rustic farmhouse type of appeal to them. Home brewers tend to go for that kind of stuff.

If someone wanted to go all out they could source some nice oak or walnut instead of scrap pine. Use some miter joints and add a little clear stain to protect them and away you go. But that would probably drive the price up a little more than $10/box and take more than a couple of hours to make them.

I agree though, they do need some finishing touches to them. I like the chalkboard paint idea, possibly on the lid. I'm still leaning to vinegar/steel wool aging. I'm also rolling around the idea of countersinking the screws and using a dowel to cover the holes.

One comment on using a dowel as a woodplug - i've had problems doing that in the past when applying stain - the dowels tend to suck up stain like a sponge and get real dark. it still looks better than a screw but they still stick out. if you cut plugs from the original wood they will at least react the same way to stain in terms of colour....

yeah i was thinking of doing the same. any tips on filling in the exposed groove? i know you said you left them in the instructable, but moving forward, how do you plug a non circular hole? whittling knife?

Use a piece of scrap from the left over stock and cut a small strip the same size as the hole. Add a little glue and use a mallet to hammer it into place. My blade holding tool often doubles as a mallet.

ha - you mean that thing i bang my tires with to knock them off for a rotation is also a blade holder? ;p

thanks again for all of your help - i'll be sure to let you know when i finish my set of crates.

you've got my vote - i hope you win the engraver!


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

I like that idea! I may do the tops in chalkboard paint. I am definitely thinking about how to finish these up with some sort of stain or something. They were meant to be a simple easy to build project that I can change over time as I get new ideas. And heck for $10 each it keeps me busy and out of trouble for an hour.


3 years ago

Fingers are crossed you still pop in for any questions, as i see this post has been here for some time.

I'd like to make some inserts for a crate, something like yours, but am fairly new to the woodworking. Did you use the table saw with a dado blade to make the bottle dividers? If so, did you just have a line on the board you were putting the grooves into, so you knew when to stop?? Is the board you are cutting laying flat, or standing up?? I'd like to do this to some 3/4 wood, (1x6, but i'd trim it to the width that would fit a blade) Sure could use any hints or pictures you may have handy...or a tutorial?

Take care,


1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

Hi, I did cut the dividers with the dado blade. But depending on the width of material and the kerf of the blade you might not have to. You can either lay them flat or stand them up and cut them all at once if your blade can raise high enough. My saw could not so I laid mine flat. Hope this helps.


3 years ago

If any one could help me that would be great, trying to make these
for my boyfriend for xmas/his bday, not a carpenter at all... For the
1"x12"x8' Pine Board I know we are cutting the length of 12" and 8 3/4"
but what is the width? Are we just leaving that board at 12" wide?
Meaning we need FOUR 12"x" in boards and FOUR 12" by 8 3/4" boards for
the Pine long/ short side? Then TWO 11 1/2" x 9" and TWO 12 1/2" x 9"
for the top/bottoms of the 2 boxes?

Any help I can get would be crate :)

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

Yes you just leave the board 12" wide as that is the height of the box. You should not be ripping the boards down to a narrower width at all.


4 years ago on Introduction

Love your use of rope. I finally finished building my crates after around 1.5 to 2 yrs. They came out great, but I spent ridiculous # of hours designing, tweaking, and building them. I'll post my pix soon. Really cool addition was reverse printing logos on slipper sticker paper (w/ stickers removed), on inkjet, and then transfering onto the wood.


4 years ago on Introduction

Thanks for the idea! My brother brews his own beer and I thought this would be a great present for him. (I give him wood stuff and he gives me beer - what could be better!) I made a few changes (18 instead of 12) to incorporate a few other ideas I picked up along the way. It turned out great!


6 years ago

If you can get your hands on some plastic election signs they make great lightweight dividers (and free). I also use them for a top but don't ship my cases.


7 years ago on Introduction

I'm going to make one similar to this tomorrow but I will put Jones Soda in it instead.