Canadian Woodworking

Make a wood wine box

Author: Randy Gillard
Photos: Randy Gillard
Illustration: Len Churchill
Published: December January 2022

A great way to serve and preserve wine, this dovetailed wine box will also help steer the conversation towards your amazing woodworking skills.

  • COST
wine box
wine box cut list

I like to buy decent wine, but because I’m the only one drink­ing it at home, it oxidizes and is wasted. By decanting a few of bottles of the good stuff into a bag and squeezing out the air, I can have a glass from time to time without spoil­age. These wine boxes utilize 4 L refillable plastic wine bags that you can buy at winemaking stores. The boxes would make a great gift for anyone who likes wine, especially for anyone who makes their own. They would also be an attractive way to serve wine at a party, as opposed to the cardboard boxes some wine is sold in. And, why make one when you can make four?

Dovetail Options
Gillard uses a dovetail jig to machine the corner joints on the four parts. Jigs are great for accuracy and repeatability, but hand-cut dovetails can be a lot of fun and satisfying to make.

Dovetail jig

Add Some Grooves
Grooves to accept the back and front panel are cut into the sides, top and bottom. The grooves in the sides should all be stopped, except for the grooves at the top, front of the sides. These grooves will accept the front sliding panel.

Add Some Grooves

Locking Knob Strip
To give the upper locking knob shaft something to protrude into, a locking knob strip is glued to the underside of the top, flush with the front of the top.

Locking Knob Strip

Flush on the Backside
When the locking knob assembly is pulled forward the larger portion of the shaft fits into the recess bored into the back of the sliding door. This allows the door to slide past the front edge of the top.

Flush on the Backside

Turn a Knob
A simple knob can be turned on the lathe or a purchased wooden knob can be retrofitted for the situation.

Turn a Knob

Brad Point Bit to the Rescue
A Brad point bit will allow you to mark the location of the 1/2" diameter hole in the locking knob strip. With the sliding door closed, press the bit through the hole and press the tip to mark the hole.

Brad Point Bit to the Rescue

Locking Knob Hole
The 1/4" deep × 1/2" diameter hole to accept the locking knob assembly is bored on the drill press.

Locking Knob Hole

Lock Up That Wine!
Once the upper knob assembly is assembled it can be pulled forward to unlock the sliding door or pushed in to lock the sliding door in place.

Lock up that wine


As always, purchasing the hardware for a project before starting is a good idea. The most important item you’ll need before making sawdust is the plastic wine bag with spout, as it determines how thick the sliding door needs to be. You can find wine bags with spouts at most winemaking stores.

Dovetail joints

I start by dimensioning the two sides, top and bottom to 1/2″ thickness. I also mill some test pieces to help fine tune the dovetail joints. Then I lay out the dovetails on the dovetail jig and do a test cut. Once I’m happy with the fit, I cut the pins and tails on the box parts. I like using a dovetail jig, as once it’s set up the joints are cut quickly and efficiently without wasting any wood. You could eas­ily hand cut these dovetails if that’s what interests you. If you’re good with hand tools, hand-cut dovetails are very satisfying from both the maker’s and the user’s standpoint.

Front and back dadoes

Next, I cut the dadoes that will hold the sliding door on the left, right and bottom panels. I used a 1/4″ router bit to cut the 9/32″ groove in two passes. It’s easy to position the grooves in the top and bottom panel so they don’t exit at one of the pins, though the sides will need stopped grooves at both the top and bottom. You can accomplish this with a pair of stop blocks limiting travel of the side while you machine the groove that allows the sliding door to slide.

If you look carefully at the photo, you can see the front groove goes all the way through the side, which is a mistake. It should be a stopped dado at the bottom of the side. I plugged the hole at the bottom with a closely matching piece of wood. Because it’s on the underside of the wine box, I doubt anyone will ever notice.

Before assembly, the top of the box is cut along the front, allow­ing room for the sliding panel to be raised and lowered. After assembly, a piece of 3/4″ × 3/4″ wood is glued to the underside of the top between the sides and flush with its front edge of the top. This is the locking knob strip. Down the road, this piece will receive a 1/2″ diameter hole for the locking knob shaft.

Next, I made the front and rear panels. The grooves I machined are both 9/32″ wide to match with the plastic dispenser spout, but double check the spout you have. I pre-finished the back panel with one coat of wipe-on polyurethane before gluing it up.

Front panel

The front panel started off as one piece, but once the lower hole was drilled the door was cut into a smaller bottom piece that’s stationary and a larger door that slides upwards.

The front panel has two holes drilled in it, three if you consider the fact that the upper hole has a second, larger hole bored part way through the rear face of the sliding door. The smaller holes at the top contain a captive knob system to lock the door closed when in use. Drill the larger hole in the rear face of the sliding door first, then bore the smaller hole all the way through the sliding door.

The bottom hole is larger, and captures the plastic dispenser spout. Once the lower, larger hole is bored, the front panel is cross­cut at the centerline of the large hole. This allows the smaller, lower section to remain stationary, while the larger, upper panel slides up and down to allow access to the wine bag.

Although I left the sliding panel free of adornment, there’s nothing to say you couldn’t add some inlay to this solid wood panel. Or, if you wanted to do some mar­quetry or use figured wood, making the front panel out of veneer is a great option. I think a few grapevines would be the perfect motif, but I’m sure there are many other options, too.

Turn the knobs

Next, I turned my attention to the knob assembly that goes in the upper hole. This upper knob assembly isn’t technically needed, though it does offer an extra bit of assurance when using and moving the wine box. When the new bag goes into the box, the lid is slid down. At this point gravity will do a decent job at keeping the sliding door in place, but a bit of jostling can eas­ily happen, and the sliding door could get raised up a bit, allowing the plastic dis­penser spout to move around. Even a user could possibly lift the plastic dispenser spout upward, causing the sliding door to rise. Both situations aren’t the end of the world, so it’s up to the user whether to add the upper locking knob assembly or not.

The upper knob assembly is made up of two turned parts: the knob itself and a shaft with two different diameters. The knob has a 3/8″ hole drilled in it to accept the 3/8″ shaft. The larger section of the shaft is 15/32″ in diameter to fit the recessed hole in the back side of the door. To slide the door open or closed, the knob is pulled forward, recessing it into the back of the panel, and once the door is in place the knob can slide forward, with the 15/32″ section of the shaft lining up with a 1/2″ hole drilled into a piece of wood glued to the inside of the cabinet.

Before gluing the knob together, I used the 3/8″ hole in the door to mark where the 1/2″ hole should be in the cabinet. A 3/8″ brad point bit pressed through the hole while the sliding door is closed does a good job of this. The 1/4″ deep hole in the locking knob strip is then drilled on the drill press with a 1/2″ Forstner bit.

After a dry fit to ensure the holes align and the knob locks easily followed by a bit of sanding, I glued the knob together, capturing the front panel between the two turned parts.

Time to sand

I sanded all the parts with 220 grit, then applied four coats of wipe-on polyurethane. This approach offered more than adequate protection, and warmed the colour of this attractive presentation box. Since this wine box may be the focal point of gatherings and will showcase your woodworking to friends and family, take extra care to apply a finish that’s smooth to the touch and blemish-free. Once fully cured, this was followed by paste wax rubbed in with #0000 steel wool. The handle on the top is optional, and is avail­able at many online and specialty retailers.

Randy Gillard - [email protected]

andy has been making furniture since 1999. When not in his workshop, you’ll most likely find him on the golf course or the ski hill. Originally from Newfoundland, Randy now lives in Calgary, Alberta.


  1. Nice job Randy. We had a ceramic container for over 20 years and recently broke the lid. We’ve been looking for another one since but have not found anything we like. I think I’ll make a couple this winter.
    John and Linda Wall

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