I am always astounded how much work and how many pieces it takes to build "small" items when compared to building larger items like furniture. I have to admit,
I often find building smaller items is more fun although you do need to be even more on guard with power tools when you are working with small parts.
This little drink tote idea poped into my head when I was out doing a quick trip to the grocery store and I noticed a display of soft drinks with the carboard carrying handles ... you know, you seen them hundred times. Little carboard holder with a handle that carries 6 bottled drinks around. I thought, I could make something like that from wood and it would be great gift idea, or for anyone who makes little wooden items for craft fairs, flea markets and garden markets, this would be a great little item.
The thing I like about it is that most of the drink manufacturers now have somewhat standardized on the sizes of their bottles because they all want them to fit in vending drink dispensing machines and even drink dispensing coolers are grocery and convenient stores.
Figuring out the size is pretty easy if you have 6 bottles of almost any drink around, I used 6 empty water bottles. Next I wanted to make sure that the handle was high enough to clear even the taller bottles without my knuckles bumping into the bottles. I determined that I didn't really need spacers between the bottles since this wasn't a "shipping crate" and even with considerable jostling, the bottles didn't move around much ... maybe for some the sound might be annoying so that could be a consideration.
There are many, many different ways of making this kind of a tote, after I had made mine I thought to see what others had done on Pinterest and was amazed at how many variations there were.
The basis of the tote are the 2 end pieces. They need to be wide enough on the inside to accomodate 2 bottle widths and high enough for a handle to be attached. Next you need to figure out how many ... and what size you want to make the strips that will hold the sides together. When I say size, I am referring to the height of each strip. The length of the strips needs to be measure to the outside of the end pieces with the inside holding, comfortably, 3 bottle widths.
Some of the totes I saw used very high strips ... which is fine, it's just that I thought they mostly obscured seeing what the bottles inside the tote. Seeing what's in the tote is half the fun of bringing it out to gatherings and BBQs.
I wanted to make the tote with as few, if any, mechanical fasters (screws or nails) as possible. I always think smaller items like this look nicer when they do not show how they are attached. Part of the mystery or woodworking I guess. I decided to use dowels to fasten the handle on, and the smaller strips around the bottom were all just glued in place. I did use a 23 gauge pinner to secure each strip that was being glued, but after finishing, the tiny pin holes are not even noticeable.
After allowing the glue to dry, I finished the tote with a liberal coating of shellac. It added a nice coloration to the wood and gave it a nice lustre finish.
For detail I added a wall bottle opener. These are somewhat hard to find these days with most bottles being twist off, but they are still available and add a nice nostalgic look to the tote.
This was one of the more fun projects I have done in a while, even if it did take me longer that I expected ... hmm, seems to be a theme with me, building things that take longer than expected ...
Copyright Colin Knecht