This plywood art wine rack is the exact addition my dining room needed; it adds warmth, a contemporary feel, and function for lots of entertaining.
Today, I’m finally sharing something I’ve been working on a while: my new wine rack in the dining room!
The photo doesn’t really do this project justice, IMHO. Swoon.
This is a fun sponsored post with Edna Valley Vineyards. I love wine and they let me try theirs and there was NO WAY I was going to pass that up! Also, I just plain wanted to build a wine rack (and I think the effort really shows in this one). But as always, all words, pictures, and opinions — for better or worse — are my own.
The Need for Full Circle
For you longtime readers, you might be able to sympathize: a project like this was once a very distant future. Remodeling is kind of a humbling gig. The mess makes you both very aware of the unsightly imperfections around you and blind to it at the same time. You get used to not having people around. Used to the mess. And then, all of a sudden:
You can cook in your kitchen again (or in my case, for the first time? #adulting). You can have other people over without shoving tools under the coffee table (that you just built, coughcough). Find new interests that include less (or even more) sawdust. You get the chance to relax and take pride in what you’ve created. And sample the really good stuff that makes life richer.
While I may never be the person who doesn’t have power tools around (BFFs for life), being in a serious relationship again made me realize how much I shied away from opening my home to others during this whole remodeling process. I guess, in a way, it paralleled how I felt about myself in general.
Later, I realized that I would waste way too much time waiting for the house to be finished “enough”. To not be scared of the judgment of sharing my unfinished works to scrutiny. Will they see the potential like I do, or only the flaws? It was time to move on from that thinking.
Those of you eagle-eyed readers might have spotted a bottle of Edna Valley Vineyards back when I created a drink station earlier this fall…
But the fact of the matter was, I didn’t really have a good place to store nice wine for longer periods of time. And while I really enjoy wine, I usually indulge in it when I have company over (or bring it to a friend’s house for sharing). I’ve been reading up on how best to care for certain wines and keep the cork from drying out, so I narrowed in on a plan to add an art piece to the dining room that could do double-duty for dinner occasions.
The actual concept of plywood art, or wood art, is not really a spark of genius on my part. Love and Renovations did one inspired by Brepurposed who was inspired by All the Bells and Whistles. Vintage Revivals did one that was inspired from a restaurant she visited. My main inspiration though? Oddly enough, my new living room rug.
Where it started to where it is now, you can’t really see it. But that’s because my first draft of trying to create plans looked more like this:
See? The pattern looks a lot more like my rug! Alas, I was a little overambitious and didn’t think in the slightest about execution.
I started on turning it into a reality, and I realized that the angles were just way too difficult for my entry-level woodworking skills to keep it consistent and tight. Gaps are kind of a big problem on a project like this, so a slightly-off piece could ruin the whole thing. I needed a simpler design concept.
Not going to lie… this thing still takes a lot of very precise cuts, so I ran into many frustrating points even after simplifying. But square wooden dowels aren’t that scary as long as you have something sturdy to set them in as you cut. So, if you have an ample amount of time and patience to dedicate to such a thing, this is a pretty great project to take on. Especially during winter months when the needs of your summer to-do list aren’t weighing down on your shoulders. And you can sit in front of the fire, drinking wine. ;)
I’ve made a rudimentary supplies and tools list, but if you’re not comfortable winging it on your own with the actual placement of each dowel, you’re really going to need to download the plans for this one. I did my best though to focus on only 45-degree angles wherever possible so that it’s a lot easier to cut out with a miter box instead of needing more sophisticated tools.
Plywood Art Wine Rack
- 15 (approx.) – 1/2″ wooden dowels
- 3/4″ sanded plywood
- 1 – 1x4x48″ poplar board
- Wood glue – I just tried out this stuff for the first time; love it!
- Wood stain and poly (optional) – I used American Walnut
- Veneer edge banding
- Wood screws
- Heavy duty French cleat hanger
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- Vise – I used an inexpensive one meant for a drill press / similar
- Pull saw
- Miter box
- Sander and sandpaper
- Drill and drill bits
- Ruler (even though I didn’t use one for this, an angleizer might be even better)
- Table saw or circular saw
- 1 3/8″ Forstner bit – best if used with a drill press
- Paint pyramids
Step 1: Cut plywood to size
The first step was cutting the plywood down to a manageable size. My board started out as leftovers from making my plywood counter in my laundry room, so I didn’t actually have a factory square edge to start with. Getting the backing nice and square is very important; the rest of the piece will look really out of wack if it isn’t and make measuring everything else that much harder.
Step 2: Cut dowels at 45-degree angles
A lot of the dowels require 45-degree cuts. While I didn’t cut all of them that way, I started by putting a few of them in the miter box and using the pull saw to cut 45s on about 10 of them.
Step 3: Cut each piece to size
I then used the plans as a visual guide to help create the first box an inch from each edge, then the next-longest pieces and so on. Starting from the outside in, longest to shortest, is the best way to keep waste to a minimum. Each discarded piece from the last cut can be reused for a smaller cut. The 45-degree angle is then already created for you on one side, too. There were a few places where an exact 90-degree cut was needed, which is also easy enough to do by hand on the miter box.
Also: you can add and subtract as much as you like! I wanted a good amount of empty space and ignored exact symmetry, but you can definitely get creative with the overall look. Here’s a quick diagram so you can see placement on mine:
Step 4: Cut wine rack pieces
The wine rack pieces were the most crucial to secure properly, so I did not glue anything down until I had those in first. These were made with 1×4 poplar, which happens to be the same wood species as the dowels that you get from the improvement store, so I knew that they would stain relatively the same color when finished.
Step 5: Drill holes for wine bottles
Drilling holes for the wine bottles proved one of the tougher parts, since I first tried by hand. It’s not impossible, but you do have to be a lot more careful with placement and keeping the wood steady (BE CAREFUL – securing it is very important or it will slip and you could injure your hand!). I made a real mess of the first one!
For this, you’ll need a Forstner bit. Reading online, the recommendations were between 1 3/16″ and 1 1/2″ in size for the neck of a wine bottle. I had neither, but I did have one at 1 3/8″. I did a quick eyeballing of a sample bottle and it seemed about right.
When I got frustrated with the lack of a cleanly-cut hole, I turned to setting up my dad’s old drill press (for the first time). Worked like a charm!
Step 6: Arrange pieces and glue
I glued down the wine rack pieces first, but before I did, I pre-drilled two screw holes into the plywood for each piece. That way, the back of the plywood would already have every mark I needed for the wood screws.
Then, the rest of the front was glued down. Even though the wood glue I used also picked up stain, it’s still not exactly the same as the bare wood, so if you get excess glue anywhere, it’s important to sand that out as much as possible. Otherwise, you’ll wind up with light spots when staining.
Step 7: Secure wine holder pieces with wood screws
Unfortunately, despite all my pre-drilling, I was still unlucky with the little side arms of the wine glass holders. I planned to have use screws for every piece that served as support, to make sure that it was holding nice and steady. But as I did the first one…
I turned it over to feel my heart drop right into my stomach. The wood was too strained with the screws so close together and split. This learning process is for the birds, I tell ya.😉
I considered (briefly) to remove the piece and re-cut. But given how strong the bond of the wood glue was to the plywood, I decided my easiest solution was to unscrew the fastener that had caused the problem and use one screw for each of the small arms. The main pieces still all got two screws each.
I took wood glue and a tiny clamp and straightened the broken piece back out. Once it cured it was hardly noticeable. I got lucky that this was also the underside of the piece too!
Step 8: Add edge banding
Instead of framing, I added edge banding to the sides of the plywood. The iron-on process makes this a breeze.
Step 9: Sand and Stain
I wanted a warm stain color, so I chose Modern Walnut.
Notes on Sanding and Staining
You might have noticed that there are still pencil marks, unsanded areas, and the whole thing isn’t stained yet — even though it’s all assembled and screwed together. I debated the order on this myself. Often with difficult-to-reach areas, it’s a good idea to sand and stain (or paint) each piece just before assembly. That way, you can make sure everything gets a nice, even coat. I did the opposite here: secured everything down, then sanded and stained.
There’s nothing exactly wrong with doing these steps in a different order; but it also involves some compromises, and you need to decide which alternative you might hate more. If you cut everything, sand, stain, and then assemble, there’s a chance that something winds up 1/16th or 1/8th of an inch off; it’s just the nature of 1) trying this for the fist time and 2) trying to have cuts so precise that you can barely see the seam. If you secure everything first, there’s a good chance you will miss spots since all of the little nooks and crannies are harder to reach (or getting to all of them just takes longer, and that’s not always easy on your patience). I chose the latter because even when dry fitting, making sure every little piece stayed put was a frustrating process. So, I glued and then stained.
If you go the route like I did, wear protective gloves so you can get down into each little nook and cranny of the piece as you stain, as well as a small craft paintbrush. It worked really well, but plan for taking a couple of hours to get it all covered… its’ easy to miss a side, so you need to double- and triple-check as you go. It also helps to use those little paint pyramids to help lift the work off the painting surface; that way, you can also stain all 4 sides of the edge in the same process.
And with that said, here she is: my new wood art that doubles as a wine rack!
Step 10: Mounting
To mount the piece on my dining room wall, I purchased a heavy-duty metal cleat system. About 3 inches down seemed like a good height from the top of the rack to keep the piece balanced.
I used that same measurement to determine placement of the wall cleat (determine the top of the wine rack on the wall, go about 3 inches down). The cleat system comes with wall anchors in case you don’t have studs where you’re trying to mount. I took no chances on having spilled wine all over the floor and screwed into at least one stud (wine deserves to be enjoyed, not spilled!).
The kit came with a little level to insert into the cleat. Since my walls are not perfectly square, I did a little adjusting so that the rack wouldn’t look crooked when compared to the ceiling or chair rail. But this made things much easier!
Step 11: Add wine and accessories
With the new wine rack secured on the wall, it was time to add the finishing touches. I inserted my favorite Edna Valley Vineyard wine (holds 6) and accompanying wine glasses (holds 4). Personally, I’m partial to the merlot — my favorite of all of the samples sent.
So, what do you think?
From where I typically sit at the table, I really like what it adds to the room. I chose a higher spot than the exact middle because I’m planning on later adding a small bar for buffet-style dinners (similar to how it looks on the other side of the same wall in the kitchen), so it needed to be placed in proportion to things that will be there in the future (including crown molding and perhaps some narrow mirrors on either side).
The warmth of the wood looks beautiful against my floors and carries some of the angles on the copper light fixture. Since I had enough accessories to match both, it made my Thanksgiving/holiday table setting a no-brainer. I don’t think my affection for copper is going away anytime soon!
You might have noticed a pair of familiar ears in that last shot. As always, my project supervisor is never too far away, inspecting my work.
Verdict (both hers and mine): the perfect addition for my next hosted dinner with family and friends. I’m both hosting family Christmas AND doing a New Years celebration here… many of you will know how BIG of a deal that is for me!
And if you got down to this part, here is the best part. I am making a second one. For one of you.
Wine Rack Giveaway!
This giveaway is a super personal one, from me to you — and Edna Valley is taking care of the shipping. The rules are just as straightforward as they always are, with entry via comment and using the widget below and no other hoops. Due to legal mumbo jumbo, I’m using a different giveaway system than I’ve used in the past (it asks for birth date – this is only to confirm that you’re over 21; I have no other reason for asking and will not be using this info in the future). I’m also limiting entries to subscribers because 1) this has woodworking plans that require you to be a subscriber to access the plans library and 2) dude, it was a COMPLEX thing to make; I don’t want to be putting in that kind of effort for some rando stumbling onto this post… I want it to be one of you guys who gets rewarded for following along with my crazy shenanigans! 😉
- To enter: as I usually ask, leave a comment on this post and enter your info in the widget below to confirm your entry. If you’re seeing this in a reader but don’t see the widget, click over to my blog post URL directly here.
- Rules: Must be 21 or over to enter; even though this isn’t giving away alcohol, I have to restrict for liability reasons. Continental U.S. only.
- Ends: Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 11:59 PM
- Comment about: tell me something funny about the last time you and your friends/family got together. This has no bearing on who wins… it just makes it more fun for me to read as I approve entries.
Ready? Go! Good luck!