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DIY How-to: Building Wine Storage in an Armoire

One of my relatives gave me this big, beautiful behemoth of an armoire about a year back. I had never really used it for its intended purpose and stored a bunch of random junk in it, rather than a nice, large TV. While sitting around twiddling my thumbs last week, I had an epiphany (thanks for the time to think, summer unemployment!). Furniture has slowly been accumulating in my apartment, and this place sure isn’t getting any bigger. I realized there there are some opportunities to consolidate around here, and it seemed like a really cool idea would be to make a wine rack in the bottom half of that big armoire. Then we could get rid of the wine cabinet already in here.

a wood armoire ready for a DIY wine storage project - photo by KilmerMedia

The armoire

Setting the wheels in motion, my lovely lady and I sat down to make a lot more decisions than I had initially anticipated. “Do we make the storage more vertical or horizontal? How many bottles would fit each way? Do we set the shelves at a slight angle so the wine keeps the corks moist? How many rows do we need for the stemware?” You get the idea. And then there was the math. Man, was the math hard. We argued about dimensions, and I won, although that’s not usually the case… especially when it comes to math.

After heading to the hardware store, we borrowed a table saw, and we were able to make a pretty crude Torsion box. That style is basically interconnected pieces of vertical and horizontal wood that come together to create a grid. And the cool thing is that it doesn’t require any nails or adhesive to hold the basic pattern together. Nails are only needed when you’re creating a frame around the box. And that’s a pretty good idea in this case so some of the wine bottles don’t just roll right off.

Wood Torsion Box Being Built DIY Project - photo by KilmerMedia

Unfortunately, I went a little overboard with the table saw and cut more slots on two of the Torsion board pieces than needed. Those two pieces should have been intended to be the outside/frame. By that time we had given the table saw back, so I hand sawed some spare wood to fix my mistake. That took FOREVER! Next time I will try to not be so giddy about using power tools.

Wood Torsion Box / Wine Storage Assembly - photo by KilmerMedia

This shows the extra cuts I shouldn’t have made…

Some of the shelves fit together a little too tight, so I busted out the handy-dandy Dremel and sanded down the gaps we had cut in the boards. It was getting to be about midnight at that point, so I did that work in the kitchen, since it’s the room furthest away from the wall we share with the neighbor. Using a low rotation speed for sanding still kicked quite a bit of sawdust around. Next time I will probably just sand wherever I please. After all, such consideration for noise around here isn’t mutual, by any means.

Routing a Torsion Box with a Dremel - photo by KilmerMedia

Once the shelves fit together better, the preliminary assembly was looking pretty good:

Wine Storage Built into an Armoire - photo by KilmerMedia

It was then time to take the shelves apart (yet again!) and stain everything to match the armoire. Like the math earlier, another source of contention between my lady and I was the color of the stain. I ended up being wrong this time, though, as the “espresso” color she picked ended up being almost a dead-on match with the armoire.

Wine Storage Wood Torsion Box Grid Nearing Completion - photo by KilmerMedia

Still waiting on the stain to fully dry…

The whole staining process took an entire day, as I used two full coats. During that process, I also built and stained what was to become two rows for hanging stemware. Just like everything else, this process consisted of a lot of trial and error. I screwed the stemware racks to the middle of the shelf, only to then discover that the base for champagne flutes is a lot smaller than it is for wine glasses. At this point, the champagne glasses could just slip right through the cracks, so I had to disassemble the stemware racks and recalculate the distance between them.

Completed Wine Cabinet Built into an Armoire - photo by KilmerMedia

Breaking down the process into a short(ish) synopsis seems kinda like Noah building the ark, then you read a few more sentences and 40 days have passed. Never having built anything like this, it was a fun experiment that really worked out great. The only unfortunate thing about this design is that the single wine rack holds three fewer bottles than the old wine rack. We knew that when designing the new one, but we are going to be building shelving for the right half of the armoire soon…. that won’t be so bad going from the single, old wine rack that holds 20 bottles to building storage for 30 bottles! It’s time to clear out some space… anyone need our old wine rack???

our old wine cabinet - photo by KilmerMedia

The old wine cabinet… any takers?

6/17/2014 update – The old cabinet is no longer available!


"DIY How-to: Building Wine Storage in an Armoire"

Written by: Justin Kilmer

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