Beer Bottle Wall Project

Introduction: I have been collecting beer bottles for several years now. Whenever I try a new beer, I generally keep a bottle. I started when I was stationed overseas and there was a great place called Rudy's Bier Garten. A very small place, but he had over 80 different bottles. I made it through most of them before I left. From there, I found myself working in a position that enabled me to travel a lot, so I always collected a couple new bottles every trip. The few times that customs or airport security people searched my luggage, then usually raised an eyebrow at the empty bottles :). Anyway, the bottles have been primarily residing in boxes, which kind of defeats the purpose of collecting them. So, this winter when I was looking for something to keep me out of trouble, I decided to go ahead and build shelves in the upstairs attic section of the garage as an annex of "man land."

Planning: The upstairs consisted of a peaked roof with 5-foot high studs to support the tresses. I decided that I would fit shelves between the studs to hold bottles. I though about it for a while, then decided that I really needed to put drywall behind the shelves to better present the bottles and to keep them from falling out the back. Then I played around with concepts for how to actually set the shelves in. I decided I wanted one wide shelf at the bottom to hold some of the larger bottles, and the rest would be 1/2" x 4" boards (same width as the studs). Then I thought, wouldn't it be cool if I made it look kind of like a bar and finished the sides, put a frame around it, and faced the studs. And if I was going to do that, then I should put drywall in front around the shelves to make the whole thing look built in. AND, while I was at it, I should wrap the drywall around the end wall too. But before I could do that, I installed wiring for two wall plugs.

Finally, (and actually this part was when the basic construction was complete) I played with how to space the shelves. I have bottles of all sizes and though the framed area was going to be about 14 feet in length, shelf space was relatively limited to hold nearly 200 botttles. I wanted to maximize the amount of shelf space so I was going to need a lot of shelves 11" and 12" tall, and some 8" and 9" too. I wanted to space the shelves a little, so I played around a little and here are the three that I liked best. After long deliberation, I decided on option B. I colored it in to see what it would look like and ended up with this.




I colored it in to see what it would look like and ended up with this. I liked it, and it was time to start working on it.



Construction: I forgot to take a picture of the place before I started doing anything, but I did start taking pictures before I got too far into the project..

The first day, I put up three sheets of drywall behind the studs. Then I went ahead and painted the inside part before I went any further. At this point, I was not planning on actually finishing it up real nice, just the shelves between the raw studs. Here is what it looked like with some tools up there. Notice I didn't clean out the place too much before I started working.
Then I started working on the far wall. Many of the studs against this wall were set the wrong way, so I had to add another stud against it with a piece of plywood sandwiched inbetween to bring it out to the full width. Here is the first part of it.
I stopped here because I realized that I had not put any insulation between the outside wall and the drywall. DOH! I quickly took down what I had up, and ran to Home Depot to rectify the situation.
End wall up and initial mud and tape, plus a view of the side wall boxed in.
This is after all the mud work (and for me it was work to get it smooth - it took days) and a coat of primer on it.
Initial coat of paint on all of the drywall. I painted it because I figured that I could tape around the frame when I stained it, and that would be easier than cutting in the paint around it later. WRONG!
Another view of the initial paint on the end wall.
While I was at it, I went ahead and wrapped the drywall around the corner so that I could mud in the corner. I still haven't really figured out how to finish the window boxes, but I'll come up with something.
Now that the wall was painted, I decided to move these shelves back in and unpack all the bottles to see how many of each size I had. This is the first time I have seen them all out in one place! Actually, I think I have at least one more box somewhere, but who'se counting? I was starting to get excited about this.
Here I was trying to figure out how to make the bottom shelf 3" wider than the studs. I cut the shelves to fit between the studs, then I used a biscuit cutter to join the extra board to the shelves between the studs. I had to use two 8-foot boards to go full width, so this is just the first board.
And here is the full shelf done and glued in. I don't have a picture, but there is a brace underneath the extension that screws into the wall and finishes it up nicely.
So, here the opening is framed and I am test fitting the caps on the studs to see how it will look. I was also trying to decide whether to leave them plain or to route grooves in the boards similar to some bookshelves in our house. I decided on the latter as you will see below.

And here I have stained the whole thing. Notice the grooves in the caps. You really can't tell very much, but I got quite a bit of stain on the paint. So much for the tape plan.

Right about here is where I actually started planning for the shelf layout (see the top images)


A view of the liners for the studs. These were strips of luan plywood cut to slightly narrower than the stud. I stained them and the shelf supports. Notice the bigger oops back towards the window.

Right about here is where I really started doing the planning for the shelf layout (see the top two images)

Its coming together now. I am test fitting the shelves in. Because of the recent change in shelf spacing, I actually ran out of boards and had to get another one, but this gave a good idea of how it was going to look.
I don't have a planer, so in order to get a 1/2" board for the shelves, I had to use rough furring strips. So I cut the shelves and sanded them. It was a very time consuming process, but in the end, they turned out pretty good. The process threw a lot of fine sawdust that coated EVERYTHING, including the camera lens apparently. Anyway, here is what they are going to look like.
Shelves all stained
TA DA! all that's left now is to remove the tape and repaint where I stained the paint. Also, repaint the areas where I peeled the paint off. I think I would have been better off waiting to paint until after everything was stained and urethaned.
Finished product before bottles.

And the finished wall with bottles on it.

For a more detailed look at each shelf, see Beer Bottle Wall - Part II

Now that this turned out so nice, I am psyched to start working on other projects that I am WAY behind on.