An Inlayed Wine Rack

Some friends asked me to make them a wine rack, similar to two other ones that I had helped build several years ago. They have been making their own wine for many years now and when a new batch is ready there’s always the necessity to store the bottles properly on their sides without them rolling off a shelf. A good big wine rack makes a lot of sense. This one is approximately 3′ high X 4′ wide X 1′ deep and can hold about 200 normal size wine bottles.

It presented a few challenges. I wanted to use water based finishes as opposed to oil based, it would have to be lugged down some stairs into the basement, and I wanted to throw in some inlay work, just because I could 😀

So here’s the story.

I was given a very good diagram of what the existing wine racks looked like, complete with dimensions. Good thing, because the original drawings were long gone. From that I worked out the appropriate angles using good old high school trigonometry. Miss Craze (my Trig teacher) would be proud.

Excellent diagram of existing wine rack.

Excellent diagram of existing wine rack.



I won’t bore you with a lot of woodworking details. Instead I’ll concentrate on the three items I mentioned above.

First:
For those that are trying out water based finishes for the first time, the water based finishes that are available at Home Depot clean up very nicely with just soap and water, and aside from the health and environmental benefits, that’s a very nice feature. As well you can get just about any tint you want. With oil based finishes, especially varnish, a very nice golden effect occurs with just a few coats. With water based products the finish dries clear as glass – no golden glow. For many people that’s a drawback. As well, with water based stains it’s important to apply a conditioner to avoid splotches of colour and to minimize raising the grain. You notice I did say “minimize” not “eliminate”. In my experience light sanding is necessary after the first coat of conditioner and in this case I actually applied two coats of the conditioner, and sanded lightly, but thoroughly, between coats, before I was satisfied. Here’s the conditioner I used:

Conditioner is a must.

Conditioner is a must.


A word of caution concerning the stain, especially when applying it during the dry winter – It dries VERY quickly. The can says to apply it in small areas, then wipe it off after 3 minutes. After working with it, I say – wipe it off just as soon as you’ve applied it. It becomes difficult to avoid colour swirls, literally after only seconds. So, apply it to about 1 1/2 sq. ft. of wood, then immediately wipe it off – you can always re-apply more if you want a darker shade. If you don’t wipe immediately, the stain will be too dry and the grain won’t show through. Just a warning…. Here are the cans of stain and finish that I used:

Finish dry time - 2-3 hours

Finish drying time – 2-3 hours


Second:
Lugging a heavy, awkward, piece of furniture up or down stairs is never easy, and it’s worse when there’s nowhere to comfortably grip it. In this case I cut some holes in the back of the rack to allow the fingers to grip the middle shelf of the rack. I also glued a small piece of wood to the bottom of the shelf just so the fingers would have a good smooth gripping surface. The dividers that butt up against it had to be notched to accommodate the little blocks.

"Comfort" Blocks

“Comfort” Blocks

Hand Holds

Hand Holds


Third:
I thought it would be fun to have a few bits of inlay in the rack. The rack has 1/2″ birch facia on all the front plywood edges and this provided a perfect place for inlaying. I had a small amount of red material that was just the right thickness for inlaying and so some Canadian flags seemed appropriate far a rack containing made-in-Canada wine. My friends have always been appreciative of critters such as squirrels and chipmunks, so a squirrel clutching an acorn, and a howling wolf, made good items for the sides of the rack. I used abalone for the critters because I thought they would stand out nicely against the light brown wood.
Here’s the inlayed items:


And finally, here’s the finished wine rack:

Birch wood wine rack

Birch wood wine rack

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