I must be getting older as I have started to do ‘projects’ in the shed. The latest is to build a wine rack from an old oak beam which was a gatepost in our driveway. Read this post to see the progress and the finished rack installed and filled with wine.
Visiting the 2011 Burghley Horse Trials, I came across a stand with products by a company called ‘Rack and Ruin‘. They sell wine racks made from reclaimed wood, including large items carved from a whole tree trunk.
See photos on their web site for examples of their work. The racks cost up to £6,000 for one which holds over 70 bottles.
Their racks were excellent and made me think ‘ I can do one of those’. I then began to consider where I could get some wood to start my project.
Sourcing the timber
Doing some changes in my driveway, I needed to remove an old gatepost.
This was around 7ft tall and had been painted black before we arrived at the house.
Once down I realised that it was a piece of solid oak and began to think it could form the basis of a first wine rack.
Preparing the beam
The first job was to use an electric plane to remove all the black paint. This took ages as the paint had penetrated very deep into the grain.
My intention was not to get back to ‘perfect’ wood but rather for the finished item to reflect that it was from re-claimed oak which had had a previous life.
Once the paint was off I used a surf-form to remove some rotten areas. This gave the bean an attractive curved surface.
A large split down one side also added to the character.
Drilling the holes
A wine bottle requires an 82mm hole and I needed to create 14 of these, spread along the beam. This turned out to be the most time consuming job of the project, each hole taking over an hour to complete.
I created a special drill bit from two stacked hole saws and an arbour. This cut down for up to 25mm and then needed to be chiselled out before drilling again.
Once more than half way through I was able to use an auger drill bit to continue the pilot hole through to the other side. I then turned the beam over and continued the large hole from the other side. With care, they met up in the middle resulting in a perfect 82mm hole through the beam.
The oak, which has been cut for over 20 years, was very, very hard. Drilling the 14 holes burnt out two electric drills with smoke pouring from the drill as I finished the last one!
I calculated that drilling the holes reduced the weight of the beam by 22%.
Once the holes were complete, the next job was to sand the beam and smooth the edges.
I used an electric sander, starting with course no 80 paper, ending on ultra-fine no 240 for the smooth finish.
The edges of the holes were smoothed off and other indentations finished by hand sanding.
I added my name and date on the rear by buying the characters with a soldering iron.
I used Rustins Danish Oil to provide the finish to the rack. I gave it three coats using a cloth to apply it.
The inside of the holes were oiled using a paint brush and plenty of oil was worked in to the knots and cracks.
In order to install the rack I stuck a 5mm piece of rubber to the base and created a small metal bracket to fix it to the wall to prevent falling over.
Just need to buy some nice wine to fill it now!
The wine rack took much longer than I expected due to the holes being so difficult to drill. My daughters, Amy and Kezia provided some help with chiselling and sanding but it took a long time to complete overall.
I would like to now make one from a tree, trying to retain the original shape of the trunk. Perhaps a softer wood will be easier to drill the big holes although sanding and finishing is likely to take longer.
The wine rack…. before and after:
The full set of photos of the rack construction is here.