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Three Wine Racks You Can Build Yourself

POP Projects is a collection of new and classic projects from more than a century of Popular Mechanics. Master skills, get tool recommendations, and, most importantly, build something of your very own.


It’s safe to say that many people who buy wine by the case like to display their stock as part of their home decor, but not any wine rack will do.

Whether you’re looking for a mediterranean feel, a rack that can withstand the outdoors, or if you need to store a lot of wine, these three wine racks—created in the Popular Mechanics workshop—are just what you’re looking for.

These Tools Will Help

The Egg-Crate Rack

egg crate wine rack plans

Rosario Capotosto/Staff

egg crate wine rack plans

Staff

Intended for serious wine buffs, this pair of racks holds about five cases each, for a total storage space of 10 cases, and is built using the modular system. This rack is made with 2-in. birch veneer plywood. All exposed plywood edges are faced with 1⁄8-inch-thick strips of solid birch. The angled joining blocks are cut from 6⁄4 stock. If you can’t obtain solid birch in this size, you can substitute maple because it has a fairly similar appearance.

Start by sawing the panels to size, making sure to allow for the add-on 1⁄8-in, strips. You won’t need clamps to glue on the strips; use masking tape instead to apply the necessary gluing pressure. Cut the strips 5 in. wide to permit some leeway in gluing. They are trimmed flush to the panel surfaces with a block plane after the glue has set [1]. Don’t skimp with the tape; use 6-in.-long strips at 3-in. intervals to obtain good contact throughout.

⚠️ Some brands of tape leave a sticky residue when removed; this type must be avoided. Test the tape on scrap to make sure yours comes away clean.

The diagonal cross panels are assembled with edge half-lap joints: 1⁄2-in.-wide notches are cut halfway through the mating pieces. You can make these notches in one pass on table saw, using a dado head. If you don’t have a dado head, simply make two kerf cuts with a smooth-cutting, regular saw blade [2].

egg crate wine rack

Harry Hartman Studio

egg crate wine rack

Harry Hartman Studio

Here’s how to obtain uniformly spaced cuts: Clamp a stop on the radial-arm fence 12 3⁄8 in. from the blade. Cut 6 inches into the panel to make the first cut for a notch, then flip the panel over, end-to-end, and make the first cut for the second notch. Do this with the eight panels, then shift the stop block so the second kerf cut will be 1⁄2 in. from the first one, measured outside to outside.

⚠️ Don’t automatically shift the block a 1⁄2 inch from the first position, or you will have an error equal to the saw blade thickness.

Repeat the sawing on the eight panels, alternately flipping them over for the second notch cut.

A quick way to drop out the notch waste is to bore a 1⁄2-in.-dia. hole at the inside juncture. Otherwise, use a jig saw with a narrow blade and work it across the corner. Sand the faces of all the panels. This tends to loosen the fit of the panels in the notches, but the slight looseness is okay.

In fact, a tight fit will cause assembly problems.

Making the Joining Blocks

Now, you make the angled joining blocks. These can be made on a table saw. Here’s how it’s done on the table saw: Tilt the blade for a 45-degree bevel cut [3]. Make two passes in each block to cut the shallower bottom kerfs first. Then raise the blade and reposition the fence to make the second series of cuts, which will drop out the waste [4]. These deeper cuts are made last so a non-tippable wide surface is always on the table.

If you should have a molding cutter head for the saw, with a suitable small-radius shape, use it to cut the small corner-round on the blocks. Otherwise, do the rounding over with a block plane and sander. Sand all of the exposed surfaces of the blocks before assembly.

The blocks are glued to the panel ends for the first stage of assembly. Here, masking tape is an absolute necessity because ordinary clamps simply can’t get a proper hold [5]. Two strips of tape pulled taut will suffice. To make sure you join the blocks to the correct faces of the panels, join the panels in advance and mark the block locations. One slip-up will mess you up.

How to Interlock Panels

egg crate wine rack

Harry Hartman Studio

egg crate wine rack

Harry Hartman Studio

After the glue has set, interlock the panels (they won’t need glue), then cut the smaller end panels to length. Working on a flat work surface, glue them in place [6]. Since many plywood panels have some degree of warp, it is advisable to use a stronger tape for this gluing operation to ensure against the parts popping apart. Duct tape is a good choice [7]. Again, check the product first for clean sticking and removal.

Wood screws and glue are used to attach the side members. The heads are then concealed with wood plugs. Clamp the top and bottom members in place and bore 1⁄16-in. pilot holes for the screws. Remove the clamps, bore the shallow larger hole for the plug, then rebore for the screw body and shank diameters, respectively. Glue and screw the top and bottom panels in, repeat the steps and attach the left and right side members. The abutted corners are secured with glue and 1 1⁄2-in. (4d) finishing nails. When both sections are completed, stack them one atop the other and drill the screw holes for the mending plates. These plates will serve to keep the sections from shifting.

If you have paint spray equipment and a suitable place to work, you can apply practically any kind of finish. But brush application of a regular top-coat finish will be particularly difficult in those angled corners.

A good solution is to use penetrating Danish oil finish. This provides a tough satin finish and is easy to apply. We used a clear natural finish.


The Mediterranean Wine Rack

mediterranean wine rack plans

Steve Kayne/Staff

mediterranean wine rack plans

Staff

A solid furniture accessory, this metal wine rack is 36 in. high, weighs 35 pounds, and holds 18 bottles of wine. Each bottle is held within two rings, one at the neck and one at its base. A number of blacksmithing and welding techniques are utilized in its construction.

Begin by shaping the rings. If you have a power hacksaw, you can slice 1⁄2-in.-thick sections of a 5- or 6-in.-dia. thick-wall pipe.

An alternative method, shown here, is to make a form around which to bend the rings (see the ring-form detail in the drawing). A section of 5-in.-dia., thick-wall pipe can serve as the form. Weld a strip of steel across the bottom of the form to secure it in a vise [1].

A bending wrench shown in the drawing helps shape the rings. One other shop-made tool, a rail locator (see detail J), is used later to locate the rails supporting the wine bottles. Since it has the same contour as the rings, shape it when you bend them.

Use a hacksaw to cut the strips for the 36 rings to length. Grind all ends smooth if needed. Secure the form in a vise. Lock one end to the form with lever-jaw pliers and bend the ring by pulling and bending with the bending wrench. Close the rings with a C-clamp and weld the inner and outer surfaces together [2].

Grind the weld clean [3/4]. True up the ring in a vise with a hammer. The main arches of the wine rack are 14 in. in diameter. One way to shape them is to use an automobile wheel as a form. Heat the length of 1⁄2-in. square steel in a forge or with an oxyacetylene torch to cherry red.

To avoid heating the steel, you can also bend the arches, using a vise and the bending wrench [5]. First lay out the arch shape on cardboard. Then secure the bending wrench in the vise, tangs upward. Place one end of the steel between the tangs and begin to bend; continue bending the length of the steel, occasionally removing the work and checking the shape against the arch layout.

After bending both arches, check to see that they are identical. Cut the vertical supports and grind smooth the ends that will rest on the floor. Weld supports to the arches.

Next, position the three top rings within one of the arches; test-position the rest of the rings, then remove them [6]. Clamp the first three rings to the arch and to each other and weld them in place. Clamp and weld the remaining rings. Attach rings on the second arch to line up with their mates; clean welds. Join arches by welding the side supports. To keep arches plumb and square, clamp several flat pieces of steel bridging the 12-in. gap between arches.

To find the position of the rails that hold the bottles, first find the exact bottom of each ring. You can do this by placing a piece of shot, a dried pea or a pencil inside each ring and marking the spot where it settles. Line up the notch of the rail locator with this mark; mark the ring at each end of the locator. Turn the rack upside down [7] and weld a rail onto the bottom of the ring directly above these two outer marks.

Finish by spray painting black with a rust-resistant metal paint.


The Patio Wine Rack

patio wine rack plans

Staff

patio wine rack plans

Staff

This rack was made to fit the beverage compartment of a barbecue bench. It will hold six bottles and prevent trips in and out of the house once your party gets started.

Boring true holes is particularly important for this project. Otherwise, the result will be out of square. Once all the members have been cut and holes bored, apply a small amount of glue to each hole and assemble. Make certain that you allow the glue to dry.

To prevent the rack from pulling apart under stress, drill lead holes at each joint and pin the dowels in place with 1⁄2-in. brads. Neglecting to drill these important lead holes will, in all likelihood, cause splitting of the rack.

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