How to Build a Wine Rack

Wine Rack
A wooden wine rack is fairly easy to assemble on your own. See more wine pictures.
iStockphoto/Andrew Johnson

­Wine has been called the nectar of the Gods. Made from the juice of fresh grapes and fermented in special casks, wine making is a tradition that spans thousands of years.

Enjoyed globally, wine is available in a variety of offerings, quality and price. Beyond whites and reds, there are varieties like Chardonnay, Champagne, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Riesli­ng and Zinfandel, to name a few. Some are best enjoyed chilled, while others thrive at room temperature.


Upscale restaurants with a collection of fine wine will often employ a sommelier, or wine expert. Sommeliers not only assist patrons in the selection of appropriate wines to complement their meals, but they also ensure that the wine is served at the proper temperature and sipped from the correct type of glass. They take good care of their wine. Do you?

Unlike most other beverages, if stored properly, many types of wine improve with age. Ideally, wine should be stored in a darkened location at a temperature between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 and 15.5 degrees Celsius), with a stable humidity between 60 to 70 percent. Bottles should be stored hori­zontally, with the bottle neck slightly lower to allow the cork to remain wet [source: Connors].

­How can you best protect your investment? Whether you're storing just a few bottles or a major collection, from your last wine-tasting tour, use a wine rack. Wine racks offer optimum storage by protecting wine bottles from unnecessary movement, heat, light and temperature changes [source: Guide4home].

Made from wood, metal or plastic, racks can be configured in any number of ways. Making your own allows you to customize the rack to your available space requirements, show off your building skills and gain a sense of personal accomplishment. It also protects your investment, which you will enjoy once you uncork that bottle!

Get ready to roll up your sleeves and make a little sawdust.


Wine Rack Plans

Wine rack plans run the gamut. Plans for a rack can be custom-designed, copied from an existing ra­ck or lifted from a design you've seen at someone else's home. Many plans are available from craft and supply stores, in do-it-yourself books and online. Some plans are even free -- downloadable from the Internet. Options range from decorative wall-mounted racks that hold up to six bottles to racks that can hold two cases of wine or more [source: Free Woodworking Plans].

When you're considering what type of rack to make, think about where it's going to sit in your home. Then factor in the quantity of bottles it will hold, how it will be used (as a serving station) and whether you want it to hold stemware.


Smaller racks can be placed on a countertop or mounted on a wall. Others can be fitted with a top, used as a serving table or made into a cart. Racks can also be designed to mimic existing room cabinetry to help them fit in with your home's décor. Some racks are strictly utilitarian, meant to maximize storage for use in a cellar or closet [source: Free Woodworking Plans].

Do you prefer to store each bottle individually, or would you rather save space by storing several bottles together in a diamond-shaped slot? Consider your long-term storage needs. If you plan on adding to your collection, a modular, stackable wine rack might be the best choice to make unless you don't mind starting from scratch again when your bottles have exceeded the spaces in your rack.

What skills and tools do you bring to the table? Unless you have skills necessary for working with metal, plan on working with wood. If you want simple and only have basic tools, kits are available to help you assemble a wine rack, requiring little more than a hammer or screwdriver. There are even plans that show you how to make wine racks out of window screens and PVC pipe [Source: Connors].

Many plans come with drawings or patterns that are used as templates for cutting the wood. All should have measurements and diagrams. Some can be downloaded for free off the internet.

Next, find out what kind of supplies you'll need to build a wine rack.


Wine Rack Building Supplies

Particular projects and materials will dictate the materials and tools required. However,­ your list of tools might include some of the following, which should be available at local hardware stores:

  • Safety goggles
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Transfer or tracing paper
  • Screwdriver
  • Table saw
  • Drill and countersink drill bits
  • Drill press, drill bit, drum-sanding attachment
  • Bandsaw, jigsaw, scrollsaw or coping saw
  • Hole saw, in various diameters
  • Sandpaper and/or sanding block
  • Oscillating spindle sander
  • Orbital sander
  • Dado set -- used on a table saw to cut notches
  • Clamps or vise to hold pieces in place
  • Mounting screws or toggle bolts to attach wall racks
  • Stain, paint, varnish, polyurethane, tung or antique oil; paintbrushes or rags
  • Scrap pieces of wood [source: Hazelton, Readers Digest, Unique Projects].

Wood for your wine rack should be properly dried. Moisture content should be less than 12 percent to ensure that the wood won't warp. Stop by building supply stores, cabinet shops, craft supply stores, lumber yards, wholesale home stores and local sawmills to find the materials you'll need. Any of the following types of wood can be used: beech, birch, cedar, cherry, fir, oak, mahogany, maple or spruce. Remember that softwoods will be easier to work with but usually aren't as durable as hardwoods [source: Guide4home].


Now that you've got a plan and the tools, read on to learn about the process of putting the wine rack together. Don't worry; just think about popping open that bottle of wine once you're finished!


Wine Rack Building Process

The particular wine rack design and material you choose will dictate the building process. However, the following basic steps are usually involved when you're building a simple wine rack out of wood.

  • Transfer the design you have selected to an accurately measured drawing that will serve as a template for cutting the pieces.
  • Cut the wood. Start with the end panels and the cross rails. Typically, the cross rails will hold the bottles.
  • Predrill the wood. If using screws to hold the rack together, predrilling the screw holes will keep the wood from splitting [source: Guide4home].
  • Construct the frame. Some wine racks will rely on notches (also called dados) cut in the end panels and cross rails to lock the supporting elements together. Others will use screws to secure the pieces. Connections should be tight to ensure the finished rack is stable and safe [source: Hazelton].
  • Cut out the wine bottle supports. On many racks, arches, partial circles or round holes cradle individual bottles. Unless the rack supports the bottle by the neck only, use a drill press and/or hole saw to cut two different sized holes -- a smaller arch for the neck and a larger arch for the base of the bottle. Saws should be slightly larger than the diameter of the base and the bottleneck [source: Unique Projects].
  • Sand until smooth, and apply desired finish. Options include paint, stain or tung oil. If your rack has a top that will be used for serving, polyurethane will help protect the surface. If you're using tung or antique oil, apply a coat liberally. Let it sit for several minutes, then wipe off the excess with a clean cloth. Allow it to dry before repeating the process.

Once completed, your wine rack can start working for you, keeping your wine safe and allowing it to improve with age. Cheers!


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Connors, Jason. "How to Choose a Wine Rack to Fit Your Style and Budget." (Jan. 26, 2009)
  • Free Woodworking Plans. "Wine Rack Plans." (Jan. 26, 2009)
  • Guide4home. "Building Your Own Wine Racks." (Jan. 26, 2009)http:/
  • Hazelton, Ron. "How to Design and Build a Wine Rack." Ron Hazelton's House Calls, Home Improvement Online. (Jan. 26, 2009)
  • Readers Digest. "Build Your Own Wine Rack. Make it Yourself Gift Book. (Jan. 26, 2009)
  • Unique Projects. "Free Plans: How to Make a Wine Rack." (Jan. 26, 2009)