My Wine Bottle Holder Odyssey

Recently, I have been experimenting with the concept of a cantilevering wine bottle holder that I was asked to develop for sale online. The concept is simple enough and I was given an existing holder to work with. On the one I was given, the neck of the bottle is inserted into a hole in the cylindrical body and the overhanging weight is balanced by a precisely cut angle on the foot. It’s a simple but effective way of producing a visually interesting piece.

Intrigue and fun are great things to play around with, but I think that a piece like this can very easily be seen as a gimmick (and I suppose it kind of already is) so I wanted to be careful about how I designed this new version and try and make something that was “serious”.

The existing holder

The existing holder

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Firstly, I tried to replicate the function of this holder. The most challenging part was the angled hole that receives the bottle neck. It proved very difficult to drill an accurate hole of the necessary size at the right angle, and my fist couple of attempts left the wood torn and rough where the forstner bit I had used had jumped around as I was trying to start the cut. I also found it difficult to get the angle correct so that the bottle would be held horizontally, as can be seen in these two pictures.

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After this initial set back, I decided to ditch trying to drill the angled hole, and instead opted for a 90 degree cut. This was easily done and I soon had an initial prototype with a shape that I was happy with.

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The first prototype with a 90 degree hole

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As you can see, the bottle sits at an angle rather than on the horizontal as in the original, and I simply cut the base to the necessary angle to allow it to balance. It did however mean that it would only work with a full bottle of wine, because any less and the weight distribution would be different and it wouldn’t balance correctly.

The reason why I was having difficulty cutting the angled hole was due to the fact that the forstner bit was not making a clean entry into the wood due to the severe angle it had to cut at. I attempted to get around this by making a jig that would guide the bit onto the wood. Even with this new jig, the result was not quite good enough, plus, I couldn’t find the right size drill bit for the hole I wanted, even after a search online. I decided that until we got our new bigger and smoother pillar drill up and running, and I was able to source the right forstner bit, there was no point in continuing with this endeavour.

I then turned my attention to a different solution. The construction of this new holder was simple enough. Two square section lengths of ash were lap jointed across one another to form a cross shape. Then I drilled a dowel between the top ends to catch the bottle neck and gave the whole thing a round over with the router. The rest was just a balancing act! As you can see, this design is a bit precarious and I wasn’t sure if its delicate balancing on two small feet was a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, it is a pretty cool party trick – something to impress guests with – but on the other hand it can topple over easily if given a knock!

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I’m continuing with this concept and hopefully I’ll get onto a good solution soon, but this just goes to show the importance of design development. One operation that you think will be no problem at all, may in fact make you have to change the whole process all together until you end up at a completely different outcome to what you imagined!

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