Bottle Draining Board

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Bottle Draining Board

Postby emnpaul » Tuesday Sep 24, 2013 8:47 pm

One of the first pieces of kit I acquired, after my Coopers starter set, was a board to poke my bottles through to drain them. As with most things in life, there is more than one way to skin a cat, so too with bottle draining, like bottle trees, screen doors with the fly screen removed and draining boards. I didn't have a spare screen door and I thought that $65 was a bit rich for a plastic bottle tree. I did have a selection of tools and a few of cuts of ply in the garage so I decided to make a board to drain my bottles.

If you've already got a bottle tree or a screen door the following will be of little use to you, but if you're just starting out and enjoy making things then read on.

You'll need a few tools and a piece of ply wood or other board/sheet material. I recommend ply as it's reasonably light weight, which is good because you'll have to move it around, and reasonably strong so it won't snap in half and leave your prized Cooper's bottles in a smoldering pile of broken glass. :cry:


If you own a drill, an extension lead, a tape measure, a pencil and a straight edge, plus have access to a 40mm hole saw you're on your way. Now, if you have all these things already then it's pretty safe to assume you've also got some experience in handyman type projects, possibly even some finely honed trade skills, so rather than spend the next half hour telling you how to suck eggs with step by step instructions I'll give you a few tips and let you take it from there, if so inclined.

It's just a bottle draining board so don't be too fussy, but it's worth using a straight edge, or chalk line if you have one, to get your holes in a reasonably straight line when marking out. Otherwise it'll look like a dog's breakfast. Work out how many bottles you think you'll use in a bottling session and round up by a few just in case. I made mine for sixty in case I wanted to bottle a whole batch in stubbies, which besides the Cooper's plastics was all I had when I started out. You'll soon get jack of washing and sanitising sixty stubbies each time you want to bottle a batch and switch to long necks, if not kegs and your bottle board is smaller and easier to make if it has less holes, so consider that when deciding on how many holes to make. Sixty is overkill I think.

You'll need to place your board on a pair of saw horses or some stools,milk crates etc. in order to use it, so allow clearance when marking out your holes. You can't place too many bottles in a hole that's blocked by a saw horse.

It's worth painting your timber. It's reasonable to suggest your board will get wet at some point and pick up some dust and other stuff along the way too. A couple of coats of paint means you can wash it down without it going mouldy or growing stuff like wild yeast. Since it's logical that you'll miss at some stage when trying to insert a bottle it's fairly important that you can keep it clean as you really don't want to pick up infections in you brewing gear. They are a massive pain in the butt. I have recent experience in that and it had me contemplating giving up brewing it was that big a bitch.

Leave a bit of space between your holes. In saying that, allow for the size of the hole when working out the space between rows. If you remove too much timber it may weaken the ply too much and have it buckling under the weight of your epic collection of thick walled bottles.

Hole sawing is hard on your drill. Despite the fact I have a good quality cordless I would use an electric drill for this, not a cordless. The torque required to turn a medium diameter hole saw has a tendency to heat up the motor on even a high torque electric drill so be prepared to do your drilling in spells. It will give you an opportunity to have a few home brews along the way which is an added bonus. If your drill gets hot the point it smells funny, burnt of starts to smoke STOP immediately and let your drill cool. You can put it in the fridge if you like. It won't harm it. Also, maximum current flow, therefore heating, in an electric motor is at stall (i.e. start up) so try to get your drill running at an even speed. It's somewhere between your drill making a humming noise and the holesaw burinig up. You'll get a feel for it. Don't stall it or pulse the trigger on and off because on a job like this you can significantly shorten the life of your drill if you don't treat it right.

Pilot drill your holes to 6.5mm/quarter inch prior to hole sawing. It will save you bending all your pilot bits when the drill bit breaks through and the saw blade grabs. Trust me on this.

I used a 50mm hole saw but it was overkill. A 40mm would be plenty big enough for all the bottles I have. It will also be kinder on your drill so it's worth putting some thought into the size hole saw you want to use. Not too much thought though. It's not world peace, just a bottle board.

I used 13mm non structural ply and put my hole centres 110mm apart in a square grid. Using a smaller hole saw you could probably get away with having them closer together but be sure to leave enough room for the bottles to sit next to each other.

Paint it. As said above, it's worth the effort as it will add durability and mould/yeast resistance. If you're really keen you can add some VC175 to your top coat. ... /VC175.php

All this does take time, so here's one I prepared earlier.


Lastly, some pro's and cons.

I made it myself. I like to make things and double pro, I finally found a use for one of the ply off cuts in the back of the garage.

If you have the materials it's quite cheap to make. But it will take about four hours, on and off, for the marking and drilling, plus a couple of hours to paint, one side at a time.

If you're time poor you might prefer a bottle tree. You should be able to get one fairly cheap off the webtranet. Less than the $65 I priced one at, at any rate.

It doesn't take up much room for storage. I slide mine in behind the cupboard in the garage. Virtually no room taken up.

You'll need something to lay it on when in use. If you have saw horses the're perfect height wise and nice and stable. Milk crates or bar stools will do in a pinch.

Unlike a bottle tree nothing goes inside the bottle once it is sanitised, so depending on your level of paranoia this could be viewed as a big pro. Although having to use it outside on a windy day might negate this benefit entirely. It's a personal preference thing.

Did I miss anything? Make any glaring errors? All feedback and comments welcome.
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