How to make a bottle drying tree

Written by jane smith
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How to make a bottle drying tree
Use a bottle-drying rack to prevent mould growth in your bottles, or as a table or garden decoration. (Normally/Photodisc/Getty Images)

A bottle-drying tree will help you keep beer, wine, ginger ale or root beer bottles sanitary in your home brewery.Keeping your bottles inverted until all moisture drains out prevents the growth of unwanted mould strains that can affect the taste and quality of your brews. Bottle-drying trees can also be used to dry or display bud vases. They make eye-catching garden art or they can substitute for live or artificial holiday trees or centrepieces.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Plastic, artificial Christmas tree base
  • Same-diameter, solid thermoplastic dowel rod
  • Band saw
  • PVC cement
  • Drill-press and bit set with countersink bit
  • 1/8-inch to-1/4-inch diameter, 12-inch long plastic dowel rods
  • 1 bag plaster of Paris
  • 1/2-inch-by-2-inch or 1/2-by-4-inch framing lumber
  • 8 wood screws, 1/8-inch diameter, 3/4-inch long
  • Coarse through extra-fine sandpaper
  • Acrylic wood sealant

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  1. 1

    Measure the diameter of the hole in your plastic Christmas tree base. Cut same-diameter thermoplastic rod to the height desired for your bottle-drying tree, minus the height of the base, using a band saw. This rod will be your main trunk. For example, if you want a 36-inch tree, cut a 34-inch rod if your base adds two inches to the total height.

  2. 2

    Clamp the main-trunk rod in the work rest of your drill press. Adjust the work rest to a 45-degree or 60-degree angle. The 60-degree angle will give you room for more rows of bottles than the 45-degree angle.

  3. 3

    Select a drill bit that is 1/8 the diameter of your main trunk rod. Drill 1-to-2-inch-deep holes, in groups of three, evenly spaced around the rod's circumference, 1-inch from one end.

  4. 4

    Loosen the work rest clamp and give the rod a 1/4 turn, so that the next set of holes will fall in the space between the first set.

  5. 5

    Drill one more set of three holes, three inches away from the first set. Drill a third and fourth set of four evenly-spaced holes after giving the rod 1/4-turn each time. Drill a fifth and sixth set of six evenly-spaced holes, or more, depending on the length of the rod. The final set of holes should be 1-inch from the other end of the rod.

  6. 6

    Brush PVC cement into the hole in your plastic Christmas tree base and on the final inch of one end of the rod for your main trunk. Insert the rod all the way into the hole until it will not go in any farther. Wipe away any excess PVC cement with a clean cloth right away.

  7. 7

    Select plastic dowel rods that match the diameter of the holes you drilled in the main trunk rod. Brush PVC cement into one hole at a time, and on the last inch of one dowel at a time. Insert each rod, wiping away any excess PVC cement with a clean rag each time.

  8. 8

    Cut four pieces of 1/2-inch-by-2-inch or 1/2-inch-by-4-inch framing lumber just long enough to create a box frame large enough to fit around the Christmas tree base with little or no room to spare. Place the first two pieces between the second two pieces, on their 1/2-inch edges, with all edges, faces and corners flush.

  9. 9

    Turn the frame so that the pieces on the outside are horizontal and the pieces between them are vertical as you face them. The horizontal pieces are your rails and the vertical pieces are your stiles.

  10. 10

    Drill two 1/16-inch diameter pilot holes 1-inch apart vertically, if using 2-inch lumber or 3-inch apart if using 4-inch lumber, through the rails at each end and into the stiles a total of 3/4 inches deep. Countersink each hole. Insert 1/8-inch diameter, 3/4-inch long wood screws to secure the frame.

  11. 11

    Lay a plastic painter's sheet on a level surface. Place the wooden frame in the centre of the plastic sheet. Position the plastic Christmas tree base so that it is touching or nearly touching the sides of the frame.

  12. 12

    Mix plaster of Paris according to package directions. Substitute concrete mix if your bottle-drying tree will be used outdoors as a holiday decoration or garden ornament. Pour plaster into the frame until it reaches the top edge and curves slightly around the Christmas tree base.

  13. 13

    Rap on the frame several times to help settle the plaster of Paris and make any air bubbles work their way to the surface. Once the plaster has dried for several days, smooth the wooden frame using coarse through extra-fine sandpaper. Apply three to five coats of clear acrylic wood sealant, allowing to dry overnight between coats.

Tips and warnings

  • In order to drill each hole at the same angle, it is easier to use a drill press, advises Michigan Technological University professor of mechanical engineering and Manufacturing Education website instructor, John W. Sutherland. A drill press is mounted on a base, with a table, also known as the work rest. The drill moves up and down the column, preventing any sideways movement while drilling.
  • When you attach thermoplastic or PVC parts to one another, you are creating a solvent weld rather than gluing, advises pipefitter and PVC Workshop proprietor, Brooks Owen. A solvent weld provides a stronger bond than craft or carpenter glues, making your project more durable.
  • Always wear wraparound eye protection and a NIOSH-approved dust mask when cutting PVC or other thermal plastics, advises Owen.

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