You can make a DIY wine bottle tree for drying bottles, storage and sorting in your homebuilt winery.
Author Steve Hughes includes building plans and step-by-step instructions for more than 30 winemaking essentials, including a crusher, a de-stemmer, presses, pumps, and a bottle filler in The Homebuilt Winery (Storey Publishing, 2012). With Hughes' home winemaking guide, you'll have everything you need to affordably enjoy delicious, high-quality, homemade wine. The following excerpt is a guide to creating a compact wine bottle tree, perfect for drying bottles as part of your homemade winemaking process. See the Image Gallery for illustrations showing further instructions.
You can buy this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Homebuilt Winery.
A compact bottle tree works well for drying bottles after you’ve cleaned them, and it provides another layer of utility in the bottle sorting process. This bottle tree will hold up to six cases of wine bottles and allow you to move those bottles around the winery with ease, whether to further sorting and storage or on to the bottling line.
Scrap 2×4 and 1×2 lumber
Four 1-1/2" wood screws
One 40" length 4×4 lumber
One 12" length 2×12 lumber
Four 3-1/2" wood screws
Twelve 36" lengths 3/8" hardwood dowels
Four small casters, with screws
1. Create a drilling jig.
There are 72 holes to drill on an angle; a jig makes this job a bit more precise and easy. Drill two 3/8" holes through the 2×4 scrap piece, 3/4" up from the end and 1" in from the sides. Keep these holes as perpendicular to the 2×4 as possible. Use a miter saw to cut the end of the 2×4 off at a 45° angle, giving you a triangular piece of 2×4 with two holes.
Cut two pieces of scrap 1×2 at 4" in length, and screw them to the triangular piece of 2×4, as shown in figure 7.1, making sure the ends of the 1×2s are aligned with each other. Do not let the screws intersect the two holes. The right-angle point of the 2×4 triangle should be centered along the length of the 1×2s. This is your drilling jig.
2. Drill the 4×4 post.
Use a small square to mark a line around what will be the bottom of the 4×4, 2" up from the bottom. Then mark a line around the 4×4 every 2" up, until you reach the top. If you want, you can use a router to mill a chamfer or bull nose on the top edges of the 4×4 for a finished look.
Wrap a piece of tape around a 3/8" drill bit 2-1/8" up from the tip to mark the drilling depth for the holes. Place the jig on one face of the 4×4, with the ends of the 1×2s aligned on the first 2" mark and the holes angling down toward the 4" mark. Using the jig as a guide for the drill angle and location, drill one hole into the 4×4 using the “left” hole of the jig. Then slide the jig up the 4×4 to the next 2" mark and drill one hole using the “right” hole in the jig. Continue in this manner up to the top of the jig, alternating holes as you go. Repeat the drilling process for the other three faces of the 4×4.
3. Add the tree base.
Draw lines between opposite corners on the 2×12 to make an X. The intersection of the two lines marks the centerpoint. Use a scrap of 4×4 or your square to mark the location of the 4×4 post, centered over the centerpoint. Fasten the base to the post with four 3-1/2" screws driven through pilot holes.
4. Install the dowels and casters.
Cut the 3/8" dowels into 72 pieces at 5-7/8" each (there should be zero waste from the 36" dowels). Put a bit of wood glue on one end of each cut dowel and drive it into a hole in the post. Install the four casters to the base of the tree, using the provided screws. Locate these as far out to the corners of the base as possible for maximum stability.
This bottle tree works well not only for drying, sorting, and moving bottles but also for hanging and drying rags, bottle brushes, test tubes, jars, hoses, and all sorts of other equipment. Paint it green and put some lights on it during the holidays. Have fun!
Excerpted from The Homebuilt Winery (c) Steve Hughes. Illustrations by (c) Michael Gellatly. Used with permission of Storey Publishing. Buy this book in our store: The Homebuilt Winery.
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