Getting free lumber isn't always as free as we might think, especially pallet wood. Wood from pallets is often pretty nasty stuff. It's often been kicked, dragged, smashed and driven over before we get it. It's almost always embedded with tiny rocks and gravel, hardened nails or screws and who knows what else. All of these unwanted elements go a long way to dulling, damaging or even ruining jointer and planer knives and even saw blades. Still, it's fun to get, but even more rewarding is getting lumber that already has some character to it. All this means is that you need to treat pallet wood differently than you do virgin wood from the lumber store. The fact that it does have all these embedded nasty elements is the reason we use it.
I have found the best tool to use for pallet wood is either a circular saw, or a table saw with a circular saw blade installed. Circular saw blades are much less expensive than 10” table saw blades. If you are going to use a jointer or planer, sanding the wood first, or brushing it off with a wire brush, then using one of the hand metal detectors to check for metal is a must. Of course the problem with doing this is that you are often destroying the patina of the wood, but ... we do what we need to.
The purpose of this project is to make a decorative wine carrier, that can also double as a wine rack. We decided to use some “character” pallet wood. There is no reason that wood from the lumber store or other sources cannot be used, the only real requirement for the sizes we made is that it be 3/4 inch stock material. Before we give out some dimensions, it's important to note that there is no standard in wine bottle sizes of shapes. The bottles we selected were of similar size and shape so that they would interchange with one another.
The size that worked best for us was 11 inches wide by 15 inches long and 13 inches high. The end pieces were both made from 3/4 inch stock, the sides and bottoms were cut in half from 3/4 inch stock so were approximately 5/16 of an inch. Making a cut list is pretty easy for this project, in consist of ...
... again ... note, these sizes may not fit your situation, depending on the bottles you have.
Gable ends X 2 - 11 X 13 X 3/4
Feet X 2 – 11 X 2 X 3/4
Bottom Boards X 5 – 13 1/2 X 2 1/2 X 5/16
Side Boards X 6 (or 8) 15 X 2 1/2 X 5/16
If you are going to make a few of these, you will also want to make an assembly jig to make sure t he boxes all stack one on another, and that they are all square and true.
The final consideration is – how do you want to keep the bottle separate inside the box and stop them from bumping together. In our case we wanted a removable space system so opted for some 3/4 X 3/4 blocks to be air nailed onto suitable sized 1/4 inch plywood spacer. Another option would be to cut what are known as pigeon hole spacers, which can be made permanently secured, or removable. If you have another idea that works you can use that too.
One last element before assembly, and that is to make carry handles spaces in the end gables. These can be easily made by drilling 1 inch holes, about 3 inches center to center, then cutting out the wood by using a jig saw (a scroll saw could work too). Making the hand grips smooth using a small roundover bit in a router will help to ensure the person carrying the wine box will not be bothered with sharp edges and slivers.
Assembly of the wine carrier box is pretty straight forward. The first thing you need to do is attach the feet/bottom supports. Since all components should be glued in order to make these boxes more secure, the feet/bottoms should also be glued leaving about 1/4 gap between the bottom of the gable and the base. This also allows for a type of interlocking for stacking the boxes.
Using an air nailer with suitable size nails works great, an 18 gauge is best, not too big, not too small. The real purpose of the nails is to secure the glued pieces while the rest of the box is continued to be worked on.
After the feet are on, using the assembly jig, the bottom and sides can be glued and pinned, all using the assembly jig to ensure quick assembly and true, square sides.
We really liked this project, it has tons of potentials and can be adapted to many different uses, how about library boxes, how about less deeply, hanging on the wall as shelves ... the list can go on and on, why not share your adaptions with us ... we would love to see what you can do with this design.
Copyright – Colin Knecht