How to Build a 500ml Wooden Bottle Crate
The most common beer bottle found on the market is the 12oz long neck bottle. store shelves are chock full of them and home brewers use them for their bottled beer. It is not the only bottle out there, however. From 11oz small bottles of J.W. Lees Harvest Ale to 750ml bottles of Chimay there is a myriad selection of shapes and volumes to choose from. One bottle that is available is the 500ml German half-liter bottle. If you go to Germany, you will see this bottle everywhere. Here in the United States, imported German beers such as Weihenstephaner, Weltenburger, and Erdinger to name a few can be found in these bottles on store shelves. Unlike a case of 12oz long necks, which comes with 24 bottles, these half-liter bottles usually come in cases of 20 in Germany.
Since this half-liter bottle is the standard bottle I use for my home brew, I searched online for a case that could hold 20 bottles to no avail. While these cases are common in Germany, they seem to be utterly absent in America. I decided to come up with a workable design and build my own using my rudimentary woodworking skills.
As can be seen in the design, this crate is simple and takes design elements from pretty standard bottle crate designs. It has nine parts; one base piece, two end pieces, and six side pieces. It is easy to put together using tools commonly found in your garage or wood shop; Miter Saw, Drill Press, Circular Saw, and Power Drill.
The base of the crate is made from 3/8" pine plywood. I chose pieces with the fewest holes and imperfections I could find. The dimensions of the base are 15-1/8" long by 10-7/8" wide. This size gives enough room for the bottles to comfortably fit. The slight extra room also allows for thin cardboard dividers to be added if desired. The ends of the crate are made from pieces of pine 1x12 cut into lengths of 10-7/8". I cut the handles using a 35mm hole saw bit attached to a drill press. The side pieces are made from 15-1/8" lengths of cheap 2" pine trim from Home Depot. It only cost $1.58 or so for an 8' length and it comes rounded on two sides already, which I thought added a nice touch. I had to do some picking through the pile to find lengths of it that weren't too twisted or splintered. I used 1-5/8" stainless steel trim screws to attach everything, but any screw of an appropriate size will do just fine.
Above: Three cut out base pieces on the left and six freshly cut side pieces to the right.
Step 1: Cut out the base. I used a circular saw for this task. It's pretty straightforward; try to cut straight and even to get a rectangular piece that's 15-1/8" long and 10-7/8" wide.
Above: I used a drill press with a 3/8" hole saw bit to make the handles in the end pieces.
Step 2: Make the end pieces. Cut two 10-7/8" long segments out of your length of 1x12 board. I used a miter saw to do this, but it can also be done using the circular saw without much trouble. To make the handles, I used a hole saw bit on a drill press. I found it really helpful to mark the center point where your handle should be and draw a horizontal line to act as a guide for your hole saw. That way, your cuts will be more or less in a straight line. I made a total of five cuts for each handle. Start with the center cut, then make two on either side of that, working your way outward, to make a reasonably sized handle. the pattern also ends up looking like finger grips, which adds a nice touch.
Step 3: Attach The end pieces to the base. Line up the end pieces with each end of the base and attach them using your screws. Drill a pilot hole for each screw to ensure the wood does not split. I used two screws per end, one on each corner.
Step 4: Cut the side pieces and attach them to the end pieces. Cut six lengths of your side piece material 15-1/8" in length. Attach one on each side flush with the base piece. I used only one screw placed high on these pieces to ensure they did not interfere with the screw attached to the base. The rest of the side pieces were attached with two screws on each side as can be seen in the above picture. The second side pieces I put in were the top pieces. You will likely see here that the curvature of your wood makes the top not line up properly. I simply attached the side piece to one end using two screws, then pulled the other end piece into line and attached it, thus forcing everything to be more or less square. Repeat this for the other side. Finally, find a desired place to put the center side piece and attach it. I put mine with a roughly 1-1/2" gap between it and the bottom side piece.
And with that you're done! These crates can be spruced up with some finishing work, but I decided to just leave them as-is. I made several of these and once I got into a rhythm, I was making about three every two hours. So, if you use half-liter bottles for home brewing or if you like to stockpile German beers these crates make an ideal storage solution! If you make multiple crates, they also stack very well for space efficient storage.