Simple little drink tote from scraps in the shop

Last Christmas I was asked to make a set of drink totes for a friend’s husband. After looking at pictures that was provided and looking around at YouTube videos and googled images of beverage totes, I decided on the design.  The idea I had was to have the bottom lock into the ends and then the side  rails to lock into the ends. This way you had a way of using less glue and a completely locked structure.

Beer caddies - Red Oak and Bottle Opener - Jack Daniels Barrel blank

The dimensions for the bottom depended on the number of bottles of beverage to carry and the dividers in the tote. The height of the sides depended on the height of the bottles and also the handle placement to carry the tote. The width of the ends depended on the number of bottles of beverage to carry and the dividers in the tote. The length of the side rails depended on the look required and in my case I wanted the rails to lock into the sides. The height depended on the look and wanted 3 side rails, with each rail width a little greater than the previous and not to exceed the height of the beverage bottle’s mid point.

Beer caddies (1)So with the dimensions figured out, I made templates using 1/4″ MDF for the sides and bottom. I added detail showing the dividers on the bottom and sides and dimensions for parts.

So I searched around and found some oak boards and proceeded to make the totes. Now I prepared the wood for the ends, bottom, side rails and dividers.

I proceeded to cut the ends and bottoms using the templates. I made angled cuts in the end pieces using the design on the end template. I then drilled a 3/4″ hole, half way through end pieces near the top of the end piece, to be used to locate the handle. This hole was located on the inside face of the end piece. I used my hollow mortiser to cut a mortise along the bottom of the face of each side. This mortise would locate the bottoms into the ends at assembly. I milled a tenon, on the table saw, at each end of the bottom to fit into the mortises in the end pieces.

Then I machined dados in the bottoms to locate the 1/4″ thick dividers, ensuring there was enough room for each bottle to be taken out and set in without touching the divider (about an 1/8″ all around in total). I machined a dado in each end to insert the main center divider. Templates were used to ensure the proper setup.

The dividers material was machined to 1/4″ thickness and 3″ high. The idea was to link divider into its corresponding divider, using 1/4″ slots cut half way through each divider, thus locking the divider structure. The two mid dividers would run across the bottom and the center divider had two slots cut spaced to form the 3 compartments for 3 beverages. This operation was done on the table saw raising the blade to cut through only half height of divider.

The assembly was dry fitted to ensure that the beverage bottles would fit in each space as designed. This also allowed me to finalize the length of thee side rails so they over hung the ends by 3/4″ on each side.

The side rails milled to final width and thickness and were cut to length. I then marked on each rail the location of where they crossed the ends. I then used the table saw and dado blades to mill a 1/4″ deep dado for the locking joints. I fit each again just to ensure all joints were correct.

I then turned and 1 1/4″ squared piece of oak into the handle shape, putting a 3/4″ tenon on each end to insert into the 3/4″ hole in the end pieces.

With sanding to 320 grit, it was now time for the assembly.

The dividers were assembled and fitted into the slots cut in the bottom of the tote.

The bottom was inserted into the mortises in the ends and the center divider was inserted into the end slots cut for them. Note, glue was only put in the middle of the tenon in the bottom piece. This would allow for side wards movement in the bottoms.

I inserted the handle in its holes on both end pieces. No glue was applied here.

Next the side rails were placed over the ends as designed and spaced using precut spacer pieces. Glue was put in each dado of the side rails and clamps were applied to hold it all together. I check that everything was square and set the piece aside for the cure.

I then located and glued Miller dowels into the side rails as per design. This would add addition strength to the assembly.

After all was dried, I added several coats of wipe-on poly to assembled tote.

I had gotten a few bottle opener kits from William Wood Write and had a pen blank made from a stave of a Jack Daniel’s whisky barrel, so I turned and finished a bottle opener as part of my Christmas gift.

Jack Daniels Bottle OpenerA really nice project. I will be making a few more totes in the summer for those summer beverages

Thanks for your interest. See you in the Workshop!


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