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Building a Wine Rack in 12 Steps


1. Make your shopping list
Photo credit: misswired / Flickr

With the popularity of DIY wine making, and U-brew stores, many people find themselves with more than just a couple bottles of wine in their cellar. A standard winemaking kit yields 28-30 bottles per barrel so even with good supply management, it’s not unreasonable to have 30-40 bottles on hand.

Not the worst problem to have by any means but if you are using natural cork it’s important to store your bottles on their side so that the wine stays in contact and the bottle remains properly sealed. The obvious solution is a wine rack large enough to care for your back stock. Before you put down $200 at your local retailer, why not try your hand at a simple DIY design that will keep your precious bottles in fine style.

This wine rack will handle 36 standard bottles including Bordeaux, Pinot Noir and small Champaign style bottles.

You’ll need a table saw with a miter gauge and a rip fence, a push stick (or two) to keep your fingers clear of the blade, an electric drill/screwdriver, hammer and one sheet of 100 grit sandpaper.

Here is your step by step guide.

12. Make your shopping list

You will need a total of 4 risers or legs, 8 rails which are the cross pieces that form the shelves, and 40 slats or runners which hold the bottles in place. Pine or other relatively inexpensive softwood lumber works fine for this project. You can also get fancy with redwood or maple, but this isn’t really about looks.

Milled wood has both an actual size and a nominal size (the name we give it), so a 1X4 is actually 3/4 inch thick by 3-1/2 inches wide. Your list will have the nominal sizes you’ll be asking for at the lumber store and we’ll get to the actual dimensions later.

4 pieces of 1X4, 2 feet long.
Total: 8 linear feet of 1X4.
Allow extra for the width of the saw cut when calculating length.

8 pieces of 1X3, 2 feet 7-1/2 inches long.
Total: 21 linear feet of 1X3.

40 pieces of 1X1, 10 inches long.
Total: 33 feet 4 inches of 1X1.
For whatever reason, milled 1X1 can be hard to find, and you will also be able to get most of your slats from the scrap left over from cutting your legs and rails, so just add another 3 feet of 1X3 or 2 feet of 1X4 for the rest of the slats.

For hardware, pick up one pound (smallish box) of 1-1/4” finishing nails and 36X #6 1-1/2” wood screws.

11. Buy your materials

You will need to get a little creative when picking out your pieces. As an example, if you buy exactly 8 feet of 1X4, you will cut 3 X 2 foot long pieces and then find yourself just short of a 4th piece. Try to find boards that you can cut your pieces from with minimum waste, but with enough extra to account for the width of the cut. Boards normally come in either 8, 10 or 12 foot lengths and there are often end cut pieces of varying length. Check for straightness and warp. This project does not call for very long pieces but anything that is too bent will cause you problems.

Your wine rack will look fine unfinished but if you plan to paint, stain or varnish it, you may want to pick those supplies now.

10. Cut 4 legs

First cut your 1X4 into 2 foot lengths using the miter gauge set to give you a 90 degree cut. After your pieces are cut to length, set up the rip fence to give you a 3 inch wide board. This will be the actual dimension of your board. Cut each leg down to 3 inches wide. Cutting along the length of the piece in this fashion is called ripping.

You can also cut your legs a bit longer than 2 feet and then tape or clamp them together after you have cut the width down to 3 inches. With your bundle of legs set on their side, raise the blade and trim off the ends of you bundle to exactly two feet long. Keep them bundled for notching them later.

9. Cut 8 rails

Cut the 1X3 into 2’7-1/2” lengths and then rip them down to 2 inches wide. You can use the same technique of cutting them a little long, bundling them together in groups of 4 and trimming them as one piece to make the lengths identical. Keep the bundles for marking the positions for the slats later.