Home > Brewing, Woodworking > Wooden Beer Totes – Build Phase Part 2

Wooden Beer Totes – Build Phase Part 2

Meanwhile back on the bench…

So last time I mentioned my dilemma over the decision to use 1 x 6 stock for the tote base. I was hopeful these totes could be used with pint (16 oz) bottles but with the thicker pine center dividers, the larger bottles were slightly too big to fit. One idea would have been to mill the divider stock into thinner pieces but without thickness planer or sander this would have been challenging. I wasn’t really interested in challenging at this point. So I came up with another idea to use my spindle sander instead. I only needed to modify the center divider as I had already lengthened the bottom to accommodate these larger bottles.

16 oz bottle Mod   IMG_6917


Chopping Mortises for the Handles

Early on in this process I was most intimidated by the prospect of chopping 12 mortises for the handles but I resigned myself that it could (and would) be done if I was careful and simply took my time. I was pleasantly surprised that the operation went fairly smoothly and that I did tend to get more efficient with each new side. My process was to use a Forstner bit to hog out the bulk of the mortise then finish with chisels. Pretty standard stuff. I felt it was important to mark both sides of the piece so that I could work toward the center in both directions. My prototype was helpful but again, it wasn’t perfect so started off cautiously until I had cut a couple of them. The mortises measured 1″ x 3/4″ and on the prototype tote I used an undersized drill bit so that I didn’t cross over the lines. I knew repeating that was going to add a whole lot of extra work at production time so I manned-up and used the 3/4″ Forstner bit for this run. I carefully setup my drill table fence and stop block so that I could run all 12 sides through before moving the stop block to the second position and running the sides through a second time. Two holes in each mortise were all that were required.

Handle Mortises


I then used my template to mark the mortise edges on both sides, outlined the mortise with my 3/4″ chisel and chopped toward the center from both faces. My technique was not masterful but it was passable and did seem to improve with each successive mortise. Each mortise fit a corresponding handle tenon which was marked. Once a tenon almost fit, I paired it to fit. As I mentioned earlier, I was concerned I might ruin my work or it might take forever but this was not the case. Just get your tools sharp, take your time and follow the basic techniques and I found you can this work reasonably successfully.

Fitting the Handle to the Sides


Dry Fit and Ready to Pre-finish

IMG_6924   IMG_6926

Next time in the shop I’ll stain and pre-finish the components before final assembly. It seems many woodworkers feel that stain is a poor substitute for actual wood but in this instance, I just wanted the totes a bit darker and I had a stain on hand. “Smoke ’em if you got ’em.” I’ll tape off areas that will receive glue before applying finish coats. I’m going to play this by ear but I fear I’ll never be able to access the dividers for finish if I don’t do it prior to assembly.

I plan to use wedges to “pin” the handles in place so I’ll need to make them and fit them of course but I’m well on the way to completion. I’m looking forward to seeing them assembled.

You have been reading an excerpt from the shop journal of the Turtlecovebrewer.

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