PROJECT: Wine Cabinet

PROJECT: Wine Cabinet

Elegance can be simple in concept and execution, and this wine cabinet is a good example of just that. Made from only five pieces, it is beautiful by virtue of its rich wenge lumber and lifted to another level with its solid-brass hardware.

Small cabinet knobs, hinges and screws
The solid-brass hardware used in this cabinet are quality additions to the project. In this example, knife hinges were the choice, but all of these options are up to the builder.

When building small projects that you want to really make a statement, material selection is one essential key. Perhaps wenge is not a lumber you find attractive. If so, this wine cabinet would look amazing if made of bird’s eye, clouded big leaf or fiddleback maple. Highly figured walnut or quartersawn mahogany would also be good choices. The point is that if the design is basic, the “wow” factor must come from the beauty the wood provides. Then the hardware will enhance the whole. In a simple project, the details will carry the day. In this case, the curly cherry plywood back and the green felt lining add much to the whole, too.

First Things First

Cutting wood to make side panels for wine cabinet
Rip the sides to width and then crosscut them to length. The sides and the door are the most visible aspects of the cabinet.

Whatever species of lumber you choose, select your most attractive pieces for the sides and the door. As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but being intentional about these choices will pay dividends in the long run.

Crosscutting board for wine cabinet panel
Take time to select your most attractive stock for those pieces. This is an essential and subjective step.

Rip the sides to width and then crosscut them to length. We did both on the table saw, but you could cut them to length using a miter saw as well. The dimensions provided in the Material List will accommodate most wine bottles, but if you have specific bottles in mind, measure them to make sure they will fit, and adjust accordingly if needed. With that step done, go ahead and cut the top and bottom pieces to size as well.

We cut out each of these parts from lumber wide enough that we did not have to glue up pieces for the sides, top and bottom.

Gluing together boards to create wine cabinet door panel
Glue up two 5″-wide pieces of lumber to form the door blank. Try to match the color and the figure of the grain for best results. Joint the mating edges for a perfect and hopefully invisible joint.

That was not true for the door. We used 3/4″ x 5″ x 24″ wenge lumber, sourced from Rockler Woodworking and Hardware. The door needs to be just a little shy of 10″ wide, so that required a center glue joint. It was our preference that the door panel look as if it were formed from a single piece of stock, so we took care to match the figure and the color of the two pieces. Joint the mating edges so that they fit together well. Use Titebond III (its darker hue is helpful here), clamp them together and leave them in the clamps overnight. If you are using wenge like we did, that extra clamping time is important because glue joints in wenge can be fussy.

Shaping door edge on router table
Putting an ogee shape on the edges of the top and bottom adds shadow lines and a bit of visual interest.

With the door still in clamps to allow the glue to cure, grab the sides, bottom and top. Go ahead and sand them up to 100 grit, then step over to the router table. The top and bottom pieces require an ogee shape on both faces of their forward edge. All the pieces need 1/4″ x 1/4″ rabbets on their inside edges.

Side view of ogee cut door edge
The shape is fully visible from the ends of the top and bottom as well.

Chuck the ogee bit into the router table and set up the cut on scrap lumber. The shape should leave about a 3/8″ flat area between the two ogees. Again, if you are using wenge, move the pieces slowly across the bit. Wenge can be brittle, and tearouts are common. You may even wish to consider a climb cut to avoid trouble. You can certainly choose another edge shape rather than an ogee, but keep the depth of the shape around 1/4″ to align with the edge of the door.

Recesses cut in wine cabinet panels for adding backing panel
Rabbets to accept the 1/4″ plywood back are formed on the router table. A 1/2″ straight bit is perfect for the task. Note that the rabbets on the top and bottom are stopped, while the rabbets on the sides are not.

Next, chuck a 1/2″-diameter straight bit into the router table. Set the cut to form a 1/4″ x 1/4″ rabbet, checking the setup on scrap lumber. On the sides, rout the rabbet the full length of each piece. Stop the rabbets on the top.

Dowels and Dowel Points

Using doweling jig to cut holes for joinery
Rockler’s doweling jig is a fast and easy way to bore dowel holes into the ends of the sides. To transfer the dowel locations to the top and bottom, we used dowel points. Biscuits or Dominoes would work equally well.

The next step is to join the carcass pieces together. We used dowels to strengthen the joints. In hindsight, biscuits might have been a better choice. There are carefully to length. Next, go ahead and sand the door smooth up through 320- grit. We chose Odie’s Oil for the finish, and with that product, the smoother the better. (It’s another important detail in taking a cabinet like this to the next level.)

Dowels installed on edges of wine cabinet frame pieces
Be sure to mark the sides, top and bottom so you don’t confuse which piece goes where.

When the glue has cured on the carcass, chisel off any glue squeeze-out and sand the carcass up to the 320-grit level as well. (You may wish to install the hinges first, then remove them and do your final sanding.)

Test fitting door before hinge installation
If knife hinges are your choice for your cabinet, one important detail is to size the door to accommodate the small gap between the hinge leaves, as shown in the bottom image. Card stock paper folded in two works perfectly.

Install and then remove the door pull and the feet, then apply the Odie’s Oil. Note that with this hard wax oil, a little goes a long, long way.

Knife hinge installed on cabinet door

Once the finish dries, put the felt pad in the carcass and attach the plywood back. Put a drop of CA glue into the holes where you mount the feet and secure them. Rehang the door with its pull, and you are ready to grab a couple of wine bottles. Enjoy the cabinet, oh … and the wine too!

Click Here to Download the Drawing and Materials List.

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