Why did I start this project with only 6 days on the clock instead of 30 like everyone else? Because you will either like it or not. Why drag it out when I am ready to get this into production?
After discovering Kickstarter five months ago I was astonished at the creativity here. So I decided to come up with my own project. For the last three months I have been designing a wine cabinet and wine rack to present to you and have now finished the prototypes. Why buy these instead of one of the hundreds of wine racks already on the market?
- It doesn't cost $25,000 (which is the starter cost for converting a small room in your basement into a wine cellar).
- It doesn't cost $99 and isn't made of pine 2x2's which makes your friends snicker when they see it.
- There are no pull-out shelves to shake up the sediments in your wine.
- There is no silly refrigeration gimmick which will actually dry out your corks and spoil your wine.
- Bottles aren't stacked on top of each other like sardines.
- There is only ONE proper way to store corked wine. The bottles will be stored at the proper angle to keep the corks half-wet.
- All labels are readable without contorting yourself.
- And ... these are the best looking free-standing wine racks in existence!
My first instinct for a wine rack was to build it with its true purpose hidden. I was thinking that everyone makes wine racks, but what about those folks who didn't want their guests to see thirty bottles of wine on their kitchen counter? So I drew up designs for Jelly Cabinets, Armoires, Entertainment Centers, even a working Grandfather Clock with a secret inside. But the sheer size of these cabinets made me rethink my design, even my intention. I finally settled on a smaller cabinet which could be placed on top of an existing piece of furniture or counter top.
While looking for inspiration I came across an old ice box and fell in love. The three door design, totally unbalanced, was right along with the way I like to design.
Originally I wanted to give this stout insulation, like two inches of it. As I progressed, I saw this would be difficult to do and still maintain a suitable cabinet size that could hold more than a few bottles of wine. I settled on the insulation being the wood itself. The cabinet is glued tight all around and the door has a seal. This should be good enough as long as the room is not too hot or too cold. My guess is only 1% of wine buyers even own a bottle that really needs more protection.
Please note that these prototypes were built from wood I had laying around my shop. I am leaning towards non-aromatic Western Red Cedar as the final wood of choice rather than the oak and hickory you will see in these prototypes.
Let me open your eyes to a whole new way of proper wine storage! This first set of cabinets I call The Old Country. I have done many different things with this design:
The exterior features the retro look of an old ice box. But instead of the three doors opening, I decided to make faux doors. Only one large door opens so the whole interior is accessible.
The interior has a wall-to-wall trellis complete with arches. The side latticework and the wine cradles lock into this vertical trellis.
I placed a picture on the back wall to give the interior a true 3-D look and have provided many pictures you can choose from. The picture will be an add-on since it may not appeal to everyone.
The exterior has Antique Cherry stain and the interior latticework and cradles has Whitewash stain. The middle shelf is removable if you have some larger bottles. Corked bottles go on the cradles, screw-cap bottles can stand upright. This cabinet can hold thirty bottles of wine in solitary comfort. The door has a seal all around to hold out most of the daily temperature and humidity fluctuations.
Here you can see the 119 pieces of wood that make up the cabinet. This is the raw wood after initial sizing and before I did much work to them.
This is the picture I have on the back of the cabinet to provide depth. If there is interest, I have fourteen to choose from. I took all of them myself. You can also provide your own picture if the print shop agrees to it. A picture will cost an extra $40 from the print shop. I will put it on for free.
A floor version (with an ice-box single faux door) has a toe kick space built into the front.
It is notched at the rear to slip over most baseboard and shoe moldings so it can fit snugly against a wall. If you send me a picture and exact dimensions I can fit this closely to yours.
I will also provide the combo of both upper and lower units at a discount.
- Each cradle can hold two 750ml or one 750ml and one 1.5l bottle.
- The interiors are spacious so the bottles are not stacked on top of each other.
- The bottles are tilted at the proper angle so the corks are half-wet.
- The labels are readable; no more disturbing the sediment while you search for the one you want.
- There is enough hand clearance to insert and remove each bottle without disturbing the others.
- The upper unit is designed to sit on top of a credenza or you can add the base unit (combo) which sits on the floor.
- The tilted cradles are for the corked bottles; capped bottles can stand upright in the middle.
- The middle can also hold larger bottles if your taste is el-grande! Simply remove the middle shelf to put in Magnum sized bottles and larger.
- My interlocking design with a built-in doweling system means glue isn't necessary in most places.
- The door hinges and latches are reproductions from the ice-box days.
Even though I have greatly simplified this cabinet from my early designs, there are still 119 individual pieces of wood making up its construction! Then there are the hinges, latch, door seals, hidden screws etc... If I make this out of cedar boards then there will be even more pieces!
The exterior plywood and face frame will be glued and secured with screws from the Kreg system of hidden joinery. https://www.kregtool.com/store/c13/kreg-jigsreg/#tab1524
You must specify what direction the door opens so I can hang it properly. If you are looking at the cabinet with the door closed and the latch is on the left, I call this a 'left handed door', or 'latch on the left'.
A nice touch you can consider is a rich dark look for the exterior and a lighter color inside to make it brighter for label reading.
Let's talk about the price. The upper and lower cabinets hold sixty bottles of wine combined. Normal wine is about $20 so this is a $1200 investment. Shouldn't you store that properly in a protected environment which will last through decades of use? How many of those cheap refrigerated units will you have to replace over the next thirty years at $300 each? And those are really for cooling a wine for serving it soon, not for long term storage. The prices for my cabinets will go up later, Kickstarter funders are getting a great deal. Sorry, wine is NOT included!
These cabinets come fully assembled, shipping is extra. Everything is made in the USA except the latch and hinges.
I know many may not be able to afford one of the ice box cabinets, so I have made other options. One is the latticework and cradles from inside ... placed outside! I call it Naked in the Cradle.
With the special upper cradle this can hold 38 bottles of wine. Again, this oak prototype will probably be made from cedar in the final version.
This fine piece of furniture will make quite a statement on your counter top or in your den! Just make sure you place it where the sun doesn't shine.
Even this rack is quite large if you have limited space to place one so I made a smaller version. I call it Barely Naked. This prototype is made entirely of non-aromatic Western Red Cedar and can hold 20 bottles of wine in the lower section. Cedar is highly desired in wine cabinets because it can absorb moisture if it occurs and it resists rot. This version has 69 pieces of wood and weighs in at 15 pounds in cedar. Twenty bottles of wine add another 60 pounds.
This has Rosewood stain.
So, how did I make all of these?
With a LOT of design and testing! To estimate the size I needed I stacked some scrap plywood together. Originally it had the upper shelf you see here but I discarded it as too tall. And, yes, I did knock this over once with bottles in it, heh.
I experimented with the proper bottle tilt, the intent being to keep the cork half-wet. I did this for all bottle sizes and heights I could find and found a good compromise.
The intent is for half of the cork to be wet with wine so it stays moist. The other half of the cork has the inner air bubble on it so when the bottle breathes it is air moving around the cork rather than the wine.
Using the shortest and tallest bottles I experimented with the cradle length.
Then I put these in my model to determine the optimum cabinet depth.
After making a cradle for two I adjusted the slat sizes and spacing so a 750ml bottle and a 1.5L bottle could fit side by side without touching each other or the side of the cabinet.
I made mortises in the bottom and top by hand to hold the arches and perimeter verticals. This turned out to be way too labor intensive, I will have to get a true mortise machine to do these in a timely manner. Having these verticals locked is critical to a sturdy cradle.
To make the arches I glued up two pieces of wood and cut them with a bandsaw.
59 of these pieces needed dowels. In this prototype I used my lathe to carve the dowels out of the wood itself.
This turned out to be WAY too labor intensive (five hours!). In the future I will be drilling and gluing in dowels.
Here I have drilled and started gluing up the cradles.
Next I notched and assembled the side latticework.
Then I placed the arches in the mortised bottom and started drilling for the lattice.
Ok, on to the staining and polyurethane!
This is the stain I used for the cabinets and first rack until I discovered I didn't like it much. This is the first time I have used water-based stain. It was impossible to blend because it dried so fast (as soon as it left my brush!) and it raised the grain. I post this here only because I referenced these colors in the video. The upper wood samples are cedar and the lowers are mahogany.
Here is the stain I will be using.
I will be supplying some helpful hints about things like cabinet and rack care, how to decanter wine properly and few other goodies in the Manual included in each cabinet and rack purchase.
What the money will be used for:
I would use these Kickstarter funds to upgrade my machines and tools so I could make these wine racks more efficiently and safely. A fresh set of router bits would be the first item (mine have been resharpened to nearly out of tolerance).
A true Mortising machine would make life so much easier! Each cabinet gets eight mortices and each rack gets four. Every shelf gets four as well. I currently do these with a drill followed by chisels and it simply takes too long.
My 'toy' bandsaw needs to be replaced with a real one. This one is barely big enough to cut the arches and not big enough to cut them smoothly. And it is very difficult to get a straight cut on the coasters, a lot of sanding and truing up is needed.
My small router table. I have added braces and shims to try to get it to stay straight. It doesn't have a large table area and these wood pieces hang over dangerously. I would love to have a modern router table with an appropriate router or motor. These spin at very high speeds and I would appreciate having guards and other protective equipment as well as a tabletop large enough to be safe. I currently have a plunge router placed upside down, difficult to adjust and unsteady with such a small surface area.
My 'toy' drill press. Not big enough to drill the arches without the constant risk of breaking them. Help to replace these with some real machines so I can start turning these cabinets and racks out for you.
I have come up with a great reward to offer you for your support in this campaign! I got the idea from a woodworking video and adapted it. I will offer four of these custom coasters for a $20 pledge; shipping to the lower 48 states is free.
These are about three inches square and half an inch thick. I made them from end cuts I had laying around the shop. Of course, in bulk, I will have to buy new wood to make these from.
The wood is from pine, cedar, mahogany, cherry, oak and walnut. I milled the wood into 3/4" thick strips. Future coasters may be larger in wood thickness and coaster size (but never smaller).
I grabbed some colorful wood and sized them all to be the same.
I glued several together to make layers.
Then I glued the layers together into a block and rounded the edges.
After slicing them and sanding I added a few coats of polyurethane and they came out great!
I had made some thinner ones, but I think they look better and feel more substantial at 1/2" thick.
They really dress up the Barely Naked wine rack!
Next I offer a dozen of these cool coasters for a $50 pledge
And for a $75 pledge you get a dozen coasters with their own home! I literally made this prototype from a piece of 2x4 so please excuse the green in it, heh. The final version will be made from Cedar sitting on a Mahogany base. Or, if you prefer, the base can be cedar as well. And if you get a cabinet or rack I will gladly stain the stand to match for free, let me know!
Why do these seem so expensive?
One thing where this project differs from others is the immense time involved in creating even the smallest version. There are 69 pieces of wood in Barely Naked. Each piece has to be planed, cut to width, cut to length, rounded, rough sanded, fine sanded, drilled, dowels glued in, stained, and coated twice in polyurethane. Even if each of those eleven operations only took 60 seconds (and most take more), that is around 13 hours of the 20.5 hours it takes to make just one unit. Then there is gluing the boards together, belt sanding, cutting the arches, notching the lattice, drilling the verticals for the cradles and lattice, final assembly of the cradles and lattice, staining, finishing etc... It takes time. If I work 216 hours per month (nine hours per day, six days per week) I can only make ten of these units in a month.
Not your typical widget, lol. So you are not seeing widget prices. I rent a commercial space and all the bills have to be paid. I made a budget of each unit. I accounted for Kickstarter and Amazon fees as well as the 5.3% 'Virginia Sales and Use Tax' I have to pay. I also set aside the portion for the dreaded IRS at the end of the year. Finally, I subtracted the material costs to get the working money. This number needs to be meet my actual monthly costs of being in business just to break even. I need a bit more per month in order to purchase the machines. Your help in this project will get me over this monetary hurdle and get me the machines I need. My appreciation will be great! When this project is over and all the rewards are fulfilled I intend to sleep for a week, heh. The end result for you is to own a unique wine rack that is properly designed and built and to take pride in allowing me to build it for you on Kickstarter.
This intense manufacturing time is also why I have had to limit the items per tier. If I allowed 2,000 Old Country upper cabinets to sell, it would take me 30 years to make them. Really! All items will still be for sale on my website after this campaign is over, but I won't take those orders until after all rewards are shipped. Fulfillment is essential. Thanks for understanding!
For my first campaign here I have limited shipping to the lower 48 states. Sorry about that, but I have never shipped an oversize and overweight item before much less had to make the padding and packaging for it. As you can see from the numbers of hours I plan on working a month I don't want the extra headache of figuring out international shipping.
What have I learned from making these prototypes?
- I have learned how I can improve the door seals even more. I should be able to move them inside the face frame so they are not visible from the outside.
- I learned that I hate water-based stains, lol. But at the same time I learned to love spraying on the water-based polyurethane (which can go over oil stains if completely dry).
- Even though I glue the cradles (so they don't twist under the weight of bottles) and the lattice pieces, I learned that no other dowel needs glue. Everything is interlocking the way I designed it.
- I liked the way the lower cabinet feet protrude forward a bit more than on the upper cabinet.
- I learned the cradles inside the 'Old Country' cabinets need to be pushed in a bit to clear the face frame.
- I discovered that lathing the dowels from each piece was simply too time consuming. I have compromised to drilling and gluing in dowels instead.
- I also discovered that chiseling the mortises by hand was too time consuming. It can only be done in a timely manner with a mortise machine.
- Originally I wanted several wood choices but when I discovered that the oak cabinet weighed in at 85 pounds which made it overweight for shipping, I had to compromise for a lighter wood.
- I asked several people to look at my designs and that helped to narrow down the prices. Then I did detailed budgets of each to get the final prices.
I have several suppliers for the wood within a two hour drive from me. I can haul about two months of it in my U-haul per trip (because of the weight) and my shop is large enough to store that until it is used.
I have contacted the suppliers of the latches and hinges and they have assured me that I can get matching sets. Same with the door seal. All other items like sandpaper, rags, stains, finish and screws are readily available.
The pictures for the back of the cabinets are printed locally and I have used them for years and anticipate no problems.
All coasters, Early Bird Specials and Executive Combos should arrive before Christmas. The rest will be spread out so I deliver some of each every month.
Run a successful campaign and receive the money.
The first two weeks will be ordering new machines and bits, getting my current blades and bits sharpened, ordering all supplies, getting the first batch of wood and making and shipping all of the coasters.
In the middle of August I will begin production on the Early Bird Specials.
By the middle of October I should be nearing completion of the Early Bird Specials. I will then tackle making shipping boxes, padding them, getting manuals printed and shipping it all by the end of the month.
This two month period is set aside for making the Executive Combo cabinets. All should be delivered by Christmas.
I will make some of each type of cabinet and rack and deliver them each month until fulfilled.
Thanks so much for reading this far, your support is appreciated!
Risks and challenges
Making cabinets and racks like these is second nature to me and I love doing it. I am really excited about how I was able to make everything interlock, it is really fun to put together! I have been careful to put together a detailed budget so I don't think I have missed anything. I have talked to my suppliers and everything is on track. I should be able to get everything fulfilled on time. If an emergency arises, there are local craftsmen I can hire to give me help.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (6 days)