The Final Product
Let’s design and build this awesome semi-useful-but-mostly-just-for-looks magic wine bottle holder (MWBH)! There are lots of videos and websites that show you how to make a single-bottle MWBH, but usually they just give you their dimensions and that’s what you use. I’ve decided to make a design tool that gives you control over what types of wood you want to use, what types of bottles you want to display, the angle of the wood with respect to the table, and other geometric properties. I’ve also decided to take this one step further, and show you how to build a double-bottle MWBH. I’ve tested a single-bottle MWBH that I made, and found that it balances the bottle with any amount of wine in it, from full to empty. The same can’t be said for this double-bottle MWBH if the bottles aren’t being emptied at the same time though. If you follow along better with videos, then click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5bap2hN8Xc There is a link to my GitHub account in the video description, which is where you will find the design codes posted (MATLAB, C++, and Excel).
What You Need
As far as woodworking projects go, the number of tools you’ll need for this are minimal. You’ll obviously need two wine bottles and a piece of wood (I used a piece of maple that I bought from Lowes, shown in the picture above). For construction, you’ll need the following. I’ll go over some of these in more detail later. Ruler : For marking the wood length and hole locations Saw : For cutting the wood to the right length, and cutting the angles at the ends Drill : For drilling the two holes Hole Saw : For drilling the two holes (I use a 1.5 inch hole saw) Clamp : To secure the wood to a table while you drill the holes Sandpaper : To make sure you don’t start bleeding when you handle it Finishing oil : To make it look professional Wood burner (optional) : For custom engraving
Overview of Steps
This quick project can be completed in about 10 minutes (except for staining, which takes a few days), but it can be helpful to see an overview of all the steps. 1) Open your design program of choice (MATLAB, C++, Excel). If you’re going to use the dimensions I give, skip to step 3. 2) Select or enter your bottle type, wood type, and geometric run parameters to design the MWBH. 3) Make a note of the wood length, angle, and length to both holes. 4) Decide which end of your wood will be the base, and mark the wood length and hole locations. 5) Cut the piece of wood to the correct length using your saw. 6) Cut the angle at both the top and bottom of the piece of wood using your saw. 7) Clamp the wood to a table, and drill two holes at the locations marked previously. 8) Sand down the edges and any rough sections. Make sure you don’t sand the flat base too much, or your MWBH will rock back and forth. 9) If you want to engrave it, now is the time to use your woodburner. You can trace a stencil onto the wood in pencil, or you can do it freehand. 10) Apply your favorite stain/finish and wait until it dries. Repeat as many times as necessary. Time to get into the meat of things!
Steps 1 and 2 : Design
In this image you can see the results of the design for my bottles and wood. I know that everyone doesn’t have access to MATLAB, so I have written the code in C++ and created an Excel spreadsheet as well. A quick note if you’re using the Excel spreadsheet: you will need to enable iterative calculations. To do this, go to File > Options > Formulas, and check the box in the ‘Calculation options’ section to ‘Enable iterative calculation’. I usually put 1000 iterations, with a maximum change of 0.001, although the defaults should be fine. The reason I’m showing the MATLAB output here is because it has the nice visual output of the final design. The important variables to note in the ‘Solutions’ panel are ‘Length’, ‘Angle’, ‘L to Hole 1’, and ‘L to Hole 2’. Make a note of these for the next step. You might have noticed the (green) slider below the plot. This shows you the design with different hole diameters. The minimum hole diameter (in this case 1 inch, based off the bottle neck diameter) will make your bottles stand perpendicular to the wood board. The maximum hole diameter is defined such that the bottles will lie flat with respect to the table (parallel to the table). As you can see, I chose 1.5 inches as my hole diameter for a few reasons. The first is that this is one of the hole saw sizes I had. The second is that I like the way the bottles look when they lie at a slight upwards angle. The last is that the diameter of a normal tea light is 1.5 inches, so when you’re not using it to balance wine bottles, you can use it as a sort of tea light holder (see last picture in the post). If you want more information about some of the settings, you can ask me or check out the document on my GitHub titled MWBH_Design.pdf. It goes through the math behind the calculations.
Steps 3 and 4 : Marking the Wood
Make a note of the dimensions your design needs, and draw a couple pictures like the ones you see in this picture (holes omitted in the top drawing to simplify things/I forgot to draw them and don’t want to retake the picture). The most important one is the bottom right schematic. Note that we are marking the dimensions before we cut the 45 degree angle, so the piece of wood should still be rectangular when you’re drawing the markings on it. The code takes into account the length that is cut off when we cut the angles later on. Again, see my PDF about the math if you’re interested. These dimensions that I’m giving here are for my maple wood. If you were using the same exact design, but for pallet wood, the total length would be 13.4 inches, and the lengths to the bottom and top holes would be 4.35 and 10.72 inches, respectively. There is some forgiveness in the design however. You can move the bottle neck in or out of the hole to change the balance. It’s easier to balance with a thicker piece of wood, but I think the thinner pieces look more intriguing.
Step 5 : Cutting the Wood Length
I’ve taken the wood out to my miter saw to make the cuts. The first cut is to bring it down to the correct length. In the picture you can see that the part of the wood that will be the MWBH is to the right of the saw blade. This means that you want to line up the right side of the saw blade with the line you drew, so you don’t cut off any extra length due to the thickness of the blade. I’ve drawn in red where the total length line is, as well as the location of the top hole. This may seem like a classic case of “First Step: Buy a Miter Saw”, but I can assure you that these cuts are so simple that any hand-held saw will do. I just choose to use a miter saw because I have one.
Step 6 : Cutting the Wood Angles
Now that the length is correct, we can cut the angles on the top and bottom. It is essential that the bottom angle cut is straight. The top angle cut is just for aesthetic purposes, and you can leave it out if you so choose. Before you start to cut, I recommend placing the wood on a table as if it were standing at the angle (like in the picture), and marking the cuts with your pencil on both sides of the wood. I mark both sides on top and bottom because there’s a lot of flipping it around and whatnot before cutting to make sure it’s oriented the right way.
Step 6 : Cutting the Wood Angles (Cont.)
In this picture you can see me getting my saw ready for the angle cuts. I like to keep the blade vertical and rotate the whole thing as shown. However, I see a lot of people rotate the blade itself and keep it perpendicular to the back fence. You can use whichever way you like. You can see the angle markings on the black metal near the base. I unscrew the handle I’m holding in the picture, lift up on the yellow thing, and rotate the saw blade to 45 degrees (or whatever angle you designed for). Then I wiggle it a little to make sure it’s set in place, and tighten the black knob again.
Step 6 : Cutting the Wood Angles (Cont.)
Time to actually cut the thing! You’ll note here that I’m cutting on the opposite side that I was cutting on before, so I have to make sure the left side of the blade is aligned with the line I drew. To make sure you’re not cutting any extra material off, the left side of the blade should just hit the corner of the wood. In this case, the corner I’m talking about is the one closest to the back fence, as we’re slicing off the other corner. Once you cut one side, flip the wood to the other side and make the same cut. You shouldn’t have to adjust the saw between cuts.
Step 7 : Hole Drilling
Now it’s time to drill the two holes, and there are a couple of points I want to make here. The design, along with the visualization, is based off of drilling holes perpendicular to the wood (i.e. not at an angle). You might have seen other people building a single-bottle MWBH and drilling the hole such that the hole is flat with respect to the table. I wanted to keep things simple so you wouldn’t need a jig or a drill press to get a nice hole, and I happen to like the way the perpendicular holes look anyway. There are a couple different bits you can use. I started out using a spade bit, but for larger holes they are really annoying and take forever because you are cutting away the entire material in the hole. I decided to change to a hole saw because, as you can see in the picture, you’re only cutting away a little material that defines the diameter of the hole. The circular piece of wood that you see is what is left over after the drilling. You can also use a Forstner bit if you like saying fun words.
Step 7 : Hole Drilling (Cont.)
A hole saw pack will come with the three things shown above (wood not included). Mine had other hole saw diameters, but I’ve only used the 1.5 inch. This picture shows how to assemble it. When you drill the first hole, the circular piece of wood will probably be wedged in the hole saw. The hole saw will also be very hot. I would wait a few minutes for it to cool down, then unscrew the nut, and hit the back of the pilot bit (or centering bit) on a table or with a mallet, and the bit should pop out along with the wood. Then you can easily pull the wood off the bit. Or you can do what I did and spin the wood for five minutes assuming it would screw loose, and then realize you can just pull it off.
Steps 7 and 8 : Hole Drilling (Cont.)
Here is the actual hole drilling part. Make sure to clamp the wood near the hole being drilled so you don’t accidentally snap the wood when putting pressure on it. Also make sure before you drill that the clamp doesn’t get in the way of the drill or your hand. The red dashed circles indicate the locations that I’ll be drilling. I drilled the one at the bottom of the picture first, then unclamped it, flipped it around, and drilled the second hole. Remember again that the drill bit will be hot after each hole, so you might need to wait a few minutes for it to cool down. After you’ve drilled the holes, this is the time to sand it down to however smooth you feel is sufficient. I tend to just round off the outside edges a little bit, take off the roughest splinters on the angled top and base (without rounding off the edges that need to be flat), and then make sure the holes are smooth. I would say the holes need the most sanding.
Step 9 : Engraving (Cont.)
I took the cut out buffalo, placed it on the wood, and traced it with a pencil. Then I took my woodburner with the pointy tip and filled in the entire thing. You can also just do the outline. Or do anything you want; it’s your project.
Step 10 : Staining and Finishing
I’m not an expert on staining wood, but I wanted to bring out the natural colors of the wood, so I opted not to use anything that would change it to a different color. I used something like two or three coats of the Watco Butcher Block Oil, and one or two coats of the Minwax Polyurethane Clear Gloss. I waited a day in between each coat, so you can see that this is where the bulk of the time is spent making one of these (although the woodburning can also be time consuming).
Here it is, engraved and stained! I had already given this as a gift, so thank you Erica and Bags for sending me this photo! The MWBH shown in the first picture in this post is actually made out of pallet wood.
Tea Light Holder?!