DIY Beer Tote

Homemade wood beer tote with six bottles and a bear head opener

A solution for taking beers from my home fridge to a friend’s backyard BBQ. No more plastic shopping bags filled with clanging bottles, or having to buy an entire six-pack when only one or two will be consumed.

Six standard glass beer bottles fit easily and securely in the tote. If one prefers cans, five can be held (an unplanned but welcome benefit). The bear-shaped bottle opener looks cool and prevents frustration when the realization hits that I bought non-screw-top bottles.

Bear-head bottle opener

This was a simple build with basic joinery and hobby boards that are available at most big box stores. I say most because some of the dimensions were difficult to find. Both quarter and three-quarter inch thick boards in various widths were available at all stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Rona), but half-inch thick boards were nowhere. I even phoned a few specialty lumber stores and was surprised that they had no idea what I was describing when I used the terms “hobby board”.  If I recall correctly, Lowes had what I needed, but not in convenient lengths. In hindsight, I should have just used a three-quarter inch board or glued two quarter-inch board faces together (although i suppose this would have made screwing on the handle more challenging).

All the joints are just butt joints held with wood glue and some finishing nails. I suppose one could done some dovetails and mortised the handle, but that is beyond my skills at the moment. Nailing finishing nails by hand into these narrow board ends was frustrating. Using some needle nose pliers to grasp the nail helped by securing the nail without risking the hammer striking my fingers.

I did not square up/surface the boards up before I assembled the tote. My skills with hand planes are rather weak still and I did not want to delay the build to fight with my jack plane. I also made the assumption that these hobby boards would be pretty square already (they were not, but close enough).

Homemade beer tote on kitchen counterThe finish is two coats of wood stain, preceded by wood conditioner. This is the first time I used a pre-stain conditioner, and was thoroughly impressed with the result. Previous projects that I stained without conditioner looked blotchy. The finish on this project with the conditioner is much smoother and consistent.

Aside from the cordless drill used to insert the screws, this project was entirely build with hand tools. Thanks to Rogue Engineer for sharing the plans. Now I just need to be invited to a friend’s BBQ so I can use this thing…

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