Home > Brewing, Woodworking > Wooden Beer Totes – Build Phase Part 3

Wooden Beer Totes – Build Phase Part 3

One of the first lessons I learned from building projects in the shop was patience. If “Rome wasn’t built-in a day” than neither shall most of your significant projects. But the lesson once learned is to be repeated in degrees and many times one reaches a point in the build where they are just tired of working on it. You feel like shouting “Enough already, let me just finish this!” I caution you and remind myself that short-cuts taken now will show up in your finished work BUT…. as a matter of practicality and perhaps deadlines we all have to make decisions along the way of when to call it “good”. “Perfect is the enemy of good.” I am very excited about this particular project, designing my own beer tote with a new Turtlecove logo, brewing my own special beer to go with them it has been fun and rewarding. It has also been a tremendous amount of work and now that I’m close, I need to retain focus. Eye on the prize my friends.

Meanwhile back at Turtlecove

So Saturday, Susan and I made a quick trip to Melrose primarily so that I could bottle the beer. I wound up with 9 gallons of Extra Stout which has been sitting on medium toast oak chips and fresh hops for about a month now. Bottling day requires about 3 hours of effort with tasks including preparing bottles (about 50 bottles per 5 gals), measuring and sanitizing the priming sugar and capping. Kegging on the other hand can be accomplished in as little as 30 minutes. One vessel versus 50 makes a huge difference plus there is no priming sugar to fool with, as the beer is force carbonated using bottled CO2. I bottled half the batch and kegged the other half (Santa’s gift to himself).  It was a long day of traveling to and from and work in the brewery but Susan and I got it done finally arriving home around 8 PM.

Staining and Poly

I had earlier stained the pieces parts by rubbing on Minwax natural stain with just a bit of golden pecan stain blended into it. Why those colors, because I had them on hand? I was planning to use the pecan only but there was hardly any left, so I grabbed what was on the shelf, natural which appears brown to me, and mixed in the bit of pecan that I had remaining.

After (hopefully) taping off all the areas that will get glue upon assembly I applied a rather awful gooey thick coat of semi-gloss polyurethane and let them dry for a couple of days.


Stain and Poly


Why didn’t I thin the poly before applying? Pure and simple laziness coupled with a just get it done attitude. And what did I get for my efforts? Numerous thick gobs, runs and orange peeling. Which, I knew would be the case when I applied it. I was simply too lazy to go upstairs and look for a jar to mix up the finish and this resulted in me spending hours of “quality time” yesterday leveling the surface for the next coat.

I did come up with a decent idea though, at least for the work I was doing.

Stationary ROS

Had I properly applied the previous coat, I could have gotten away with some light hand sanding but such was not the case. I found the random orbital sander was going to be extremely helpful considering how many pieces needed correcting. Holding that beast and getting my hands shaken for several hours was not working well for me so I decided to try mounting it which was infinitely more tolerable. I had turned down the speed on the advice of better control but I found that I actually needed more horsepower in this case so I turned it up just a bit from 1 to 3 which made the work a little quicker.

Tote Bottoms

I also took the time to make some “painters points” by taking my homemade square bench cookies and counter sinking three 1″ 5/8″ drywall screws in the pattern of a triangle. They were pretty pointy so I did take the time to dull the tips on the bench grinder before using them on my tote bottoms. This time there won’t be any newspaper stuck to them. Sorry no pictures of the paint points but they are nothing special. Above are my bottoms, suspended on them while drying.

After level sanding the parts looked, well scuffed. This time I diluted the poly 50:50 with mineral spirits and wiped on the finish. The wood figure sprang back to life, much better.

IMG_6938   Getting There...



While applying the homemade wipe on poly I figured I’d try some french-polish techniques for fun. I varied my stroke and used figure eight patterns with light landings and take-offs. I realize this isn’t french-polish but I didn’t think it would hurt to practice the technique and I think it did a great job applying this wipe on.

Fatigue has set in

But I’m getting close to the finish line now. The beer is ready and the totes are very near ready for final assembly. There will be one final surprise if I can get my daughter focused long enough. I’m ready to “Git ‘R Done”.

You have been peeping into Santa’s workshop with the Turtlecovebrewer

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