DIY Reclaimed Barn Wood Beer Caddy
Our family loves building together and we really lucked out when we got these beautiful reclaimed barn boards. We had enough wood to make beer caddies as gifts for 20 people!
Make Your Own Wooden Beer Caddy
Our whole family got involved in the building of these caddies (father Val, brother Aaron and sister Des). It was our lucky day when a friend called to say he had some reclaimed lumber we could have. He found a large amount of beautiful 100-year-old wood from an old board-and-batten-style barn in Wisconsin.
It took us three days in the shop to transform that gorgeous wood into 20 beer caddies. Each caddy requires 2-1/2 board feet, has black pipe handles and a bottle opener on the side. Each wooden beer caddy holds 8 longneck beer bottles or 6 heritage beer bottles, which have fatter bottoms.
You can find a plan for the wooden beer caddy and a list of materials below. We show a couple of jigs that help streamline the process, so you can build a bunch of these at the same time.
If you can’t find old barn boards, you can use 3/4-inch pine or cedar (and you can skip the planing step). Then, follow these instructions for aging wood.
Inspect the Barn Boards for Nails
Reclaimed wood is likely to have nails in it. It’s very important to check for nails so you don’t ruin a saw blade or get injured. Here Aaron is checking for nails. We found 4 different kinds of antique square-headed nails in the old barn boards.
Old Barn Boards Have Beautiful Patina
The old 1-inch-thick boards (also called 4/4) were originally 16 feet long and 19 inches wide. When we picked them up, we had to cut them with a chainsaw into 6-foot lengths to fit into the Subaru Outback!
This is the unpainted back side of one of the boards. We used a hammer and nail punch to push the nails through the wood so we wouldn’t make the nail holes any bigger.
Plane the Boards
We sent each board through the planer several times (until they were 3/4 inch thick) for the bottom and end pieces. We planed both sides of the boards and chose the best-looking surface as the outside of each wooden beer caddy.
Our wood for the 2-inch-tall outside side-slat pieces was planed to 1/2 inch thick. The inside top and bottom divider piece were planed down to 3/8 inch.
Before working with old painted wood, always check for lead. If you find lead in the old paint, take these precautions.
Rip Boards to Size on the Table Saw
Rip the boards on the table saw to 6-1/2 inches. These cuts form the end and bottom pieces of the wooden beer caddy.
Cut the End and Bottom Boards
We used a miter saw with a 12-inch blade to cut the caddy ends and bottom boards to exact length (refer to The Plan for dimensions). You can also use a radial arm saw, which is typically used to cut wider boards.
A Jig Makes it Easy
We used particleboard to make a jig for cutting the angles on the end pieces of the caddies. It’s best to use a jig if you make multiple caddies. It simplifies the process because you only need to measure once. If you’re only making one caddy, you don’t need a jig.
Cut the Ends
We cut the angled ends on a table saw using our homemade jig. After the first angle is cut, flip the board and cut the other side.
Let Dad Help Out!
Here’s 91-year-old dad (Val) stacking the pieces after angles are cut. Thanks, Dad!
Drill Holes for the Handle
We drilled the holes for the handle in the wooden beer caddy end pieces with a 3/4-inch Forstner bit in a drill press. These holes will eventually hold the 3/8-inch black iron pipe handle. We made another jig for this step. Note: When purchasing any pipe it’s always the inside dimension that you look for.
Planing slats and dividers
Here we’re planing 3/4-inch barn boards to 1/2 inch and 3/8 inch for the side slats and dividers. (Val and Aaron have been woodworking together for 31 years.)
Sand with an Orbital Sander
We sanded the ends, bottom pieces and side slats with an orbital sander and 150-grit sandpaper.
We attached the bottom divider after centering it on the bottom piece. We used a little wood glue and small nails.
Gluing and Nailing
Next, we glued and nailed the bottom pieces to the end pieces and attached the top divider piece to the end pieces. We positioned the top divider about 1-1/2 inches lower than the angle on the end piece and lined it up with the bottom divider.
Assembly is Complete
All of the caddies are assembled and ready for spraying the first coat of lacquer.
Hand Sanding Between Coats
We hand-sanded all of the caddies with 220-grit sandpaper after the first coat of lacquer was dry. Then we removed all dust with a tack cloth before spraying on the final coat of lacquer. You can also use a high-pressure air hose (with compressor) to get rid of the excess dust.
Soak Off Labels and Install the Handles
We soaked the 3/8-inch black iron pipe nipples in a solvent to remove the glued-on labels and tape. Then we sprayed just the bottoms of the caddies with the second coat of lacquer and let it dry.
Next, we placed the 3/8-inch iron pipes through the 3/4-inch drilled holes and added the black iron pipe caps on each end of the pipe and tightened each end with pipe wrenches.
Line ‘Em Up and Spray
Next, we lined up the 20 caddies and sprayed on the second coat of lacquer over the entire beer caddy.
Add the Bottle Opener
When the finish was completely dry, we added an old-style metal bottle opener on one side of the beer caddy. It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid home brewer or looking to create your dream man cave, a great beer fridge is essential for any beer lover. Here are 10 drool-worthy beer fridges to inspire you.
Additional Wooden Beer Caddy Information: