Gift box for a bottle of wine

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Project by Dave Polaschek posted 12-27-2018 05:17 PM 689 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I planned (still do, but I’m now officially late) to give a friend a bottle of wine for Christmas. I wanted to make a nice box to hold the wine, and this is the result.

It’s a birch box, with mitered corners, reinforced by cherry splines, with a cherry top and bottom. The top is a sliding top.

Inside the box are two braces to hold the bottle of wine in place. With them both in place and the lid shut, the bottle can only move about a millimeter end to end.

Construction-wise, I had plenty of issues with this box. While I was installing the splines, I dropped the box. It landed on one of the corners that hadn’t yet been reinforced, and two of the corners came apart. I glued it together again, and this time got the splines installed, but the box was a tiny bit out of square. I squared it upon the belt sander after the fact.

The braces, which had been a good fit before I dropped the box, now needed adjusting. Plus they were too tight on the bottle, so I needed to shave them to make everything fit correctly. It ended up being two or three hours of adjust, test fit, mark, shave, adjust again…

The braces have a sliding dovetail holding the ash into the cherry end for the top of the bottle. On the other end, there’s a half-blind dovetail holding things together. Picture 5 shows this pretty well. I cracked the cherry end of one of the two while chopping out the waste on the dovetail, but it glued back together ok. The dovetails are gratuitous, but it was fun practicing by cutting them.

When I glued the end of the box onto the sliding lid, something slipped, so rather than fitting nicely, the end is off by 3/32” or so. I had to glue in another piece of birch so it wouldn’t be too gappy.

Finally, I didn’t get as nice of a finish on the sides of the box as I had hoped. The pieces of birch and cherry for this box came from the offcut bin at the lumber yard, and both were full of knots. They’re very pretty, but not the best lumber to work. In particular, the birch had a spot of reversing grain that just gave me fits. I almost had it smoothed with a card scraper when I slipped and got a chunk of tear-out. And then I dropped the box, and ended up squaring it up again with the belt sander. It doesn’t look bad, but it’s not my best work.

Thanks for looking! In spite of all the trouble, I had fun making the box and braces.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

16 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile


2761 posts in 2517 days

#1 posted 12-27-2018 05:50 PM

Nice, very thoughtful gift.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

3555 posts in 909 days

#2 posted 12-27-2018 06:16 PM

Thanks, Tom. One gift a week early, and this one will probably be a week late. I guess it all averages out, right?

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View socrbent's profile


810 posts in 2596 days

#3 posted 12-27-2018 06:20 PM

Good result – way to persevere.

-- socrbent Ohio

View ralbuck's profile


5899 posts in 2593 days

#4 posted 12-27-2018 06:37 PM

Well done.

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Tom Regnier's profile

Tom Regnier

370 posts in 2874 days

#5 posted 12-27-2018 09:15 PM

Nice looking box Dave…you really hung in there through some difficulties. Love the dovetail!

View robscastle's profile


5782 posts in 2531 days

#6 posted 12-28-2018 12:17 AM

Looks OK to me Dave, and from the looks of the wine, by the time they finish it any “defects” will be just a blur.
I must admit dropping boxes during the construction stage is very demoralising!

-- Regards Rob

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

3555 posts in 909 days

#7 posted 12-28-2018 01:17 AM

Thanks guys.

Tom, there were a couple times I nearly started over. But I figured out that hand-cutting splines is something I should build a jig for so I can make a bunch of them in advance, so that’s going to be a good thing, too.

Thanks, Rob. The wine is from a small winery near where I lived for the year I lived in California, and I’ve been drinking it for nearly 25 years at this point. Bought a case when we were out there this November. Good stuff. And the time when the box is together, but doesn’t have the splines in to reinforce it has caused me problems before, so now I’m rethinking that and will build things to minimize the danger. So yeah, breaking things is no fun, but figuring out how to solve the problem afterwards is good.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View GR8HUNTER's profile


5819 posts in 1039 days

#8 posted 12-28-2018 01:22 AM

looks like it was well worth the effort you put into it GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View doubleDD's profile


8220 posts in 2370 days

#9 posted 12-28-2018 04:37 AM

First off the box still turned out nice Dave. You hung in there and finished the job. I learn a lot by fixing projects. This reminds me of the bowl I was trying to get the right finish I wanted on it and dropped it 6 times in the process. Yes 6 times.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

3555 posts in 909 days

#10 posted 12-28-2018 08:01 AM

Thanks Tony.

Dave, I don’t know if I would’ve hung in through six drops. Ouch.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View majuvla's profile


14153 posts in 3194 days

#11 posted 12-28-2018 08:18 AM

Nice box…I like that inlay detail.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

3555 posts in 909 days

#12 posted 12-28-2018 08:26 AM

Thanks, Ivan. Cut the groove for it with a combination plane, and glue it in, then sanded it flush. I did that before putting in the splines, which was another part of learning from my mistakes. I need to cut the grooves for the inlay early (so they align all the way around the box, and so I’m cutting on fewer pieces), then assemble and reinforce the box, and then put in the inlay and sand it flush.

I’m always hurrying to get the outside of the box smoothed so I can see what I’ll have, but I find that I’m better off if I leave the box rough as late as possible in the process.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View EarlS's profile


2649 posts in 2675 days

#13 posted 12-28-2018 01:05 PM

Sounds like one of those projects where you learn a lot more than anticipated. Looks like everything came together in the end with a good looking box.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

3555 posts in 909 days

#14 posted 12-28-2018 01:07 PM

Thanks, Earl. Sometimes I wish I didn’t need to learn so much all at once. :-/

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View therealSteveN's profile


2348 posts in 901 days

#15 posted 12-28-2018 02:03 PM

I like this box, call it Charley Brown. It represents that things don’t always go through life as planned, yet they go through, and are a testament to hanging in there to achieve the best out of life you can.

Headache, sure I see it in your words, but in looking at the box, you kicked the Devil’s a$$.

Nice job Dave. Thanks for posting, and congrats on your 3

-- Think safe, be safe

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