A Case for Wine

The box itself is dovetailed together. When laying out your dovetails, make sure the back groove falls between the tails and the pins on the sides so the groove won't show at the top. I had to run stopped-grooves on the sides to avoid the groove showing from the outside. All you have to do is stop the cut, then use a chisel to square out the end of the groove.

The box itself is dovetailed together. When laying out your dovetails, make sure the back groove falls between the tails and the pins on the sides so the groove won't show at the top. I had to run stopped-grooves on the sides to avoid the groove showing from the outside. All you have to do is stop the cut, then use a chisel to square out the end of the groove.

Once upon a time, I was a beer guy. Most woodworkers are, I suppose, and I still enjoy a good brew. But recently I’ve also learned to appreciate a glass of good wine. Usually a bottle or two of red wine in the house is adequate, but as my interest in wine has grown, so has my interest in having a selection of wines available. So I decided I needed a wine rack.

I don’t have a lot of room in my house, so I turned to my computer-aided design program. After carefully measuring a variety of bottles (between sips) I calculated the best way to maximize my bottle storage in the smallest amount of space. The rack shown here is my best effort, with storage for 24 bottles (two cases) in a 20″ x 20″ x 14″-deep space.

This design allows for an efficient cutting list and an efficient use of space. I was able to design the rack using 11 pieces of wood in only four sizes. Maybe that’s why I decided to complicate it by adding dovetails to the solid mahogany box. That, and the need for reliable strength – 24 bottles of wine are heavy.

The interior dividers are eggcrate-joined Baltic birch with veneer tape applied to the front edges. Designed to hang on a wall with a hidden French cleat, the box could be easily adapted for floor use with a simple base and maybe a drawer added above the box itself. It’s a reasonable weekend project with some time left over to have a glass of wine and appreciate your work.

Building the Cabinet
Start construction with the outside of the case. The four pieces are exactly the same, 14″ x 20″, but because this is a simple piece, an attractive grain pattern can go a long way to make it more dramatic. I was lucky to have a slab of mahogany tucked away in the shop that was actually 14-1/2″ wide, which allowed me to avoid any glued-up panels.

To fit the interlocking dividers to one another, start with the two long dividers. First fit them between the corners of the box, then mark the overlapping locations of the two pieces. The eggcrate notches are cut at the mark. Follow this same process to fit and notch the four smaller dividers.

To fit the interlocking dividers to one another, start with the two long dividers. First fit them between the corners of the box, then mark the overlapping locations of the two pieces. The eggcrate notches are cut at the mark. Follow this same process to fit and notch the four smaller dividers.

After choosing the most attractive faces of the boards for the exterior, start laying out the dovetails. Everyone has their own method of making dovetails, and you may choose to cut yours by hand to get a more unique spacing pattern. I chose the easy plugged-in route and used a model 2200 Keller Jig (kellerdovetail.com, $219) to cut through-dovetails.

Keep On Groovin’
With the dovetails cut and fit, you will need to cut grooves for the back in all four pieces. Because I was hanging my rack on the wall, I allowed a 3/4″ setback from the rear of each piece and used a 1/2″ router bit in my router table to make the 3/8″-deep grooves.

With the spacing I used on my dovetails, the grooves in the top and bottom pieces are able to run the entire length of the piece without interfering with the dovetail pattern. However, on the side pieces I had to use a stopped groove to avoid seeing the groove in the assembled box.

After running the stopped grooves, use a chisel to square out the ends. Next dry-assemble the box with the back in place to make sure everything fits well.

An Interlocking Complexity
The divided interior of the box is formed from just six pieces of 1/2″ plywood, notched to interlock with one another.

Start by measuring from one inside corner of the box to the opposite corner. While a measurement for the length of these pieces is provided here, it’s a good idea to double-check the dimensions against your project.