Making a Wedding: Wooden Beer Totes

05 Nov

A quick google search shows that the most popular groomsmen gifts are usually one of the following: flasks, wallets, beer glasses, and watches. All engraved with their initials of course. I thought I’d do something a little different for my groomsmen.

I found this great post on the DIY section of Reddit from the user BitterLikeAHop. He made what was essentially a wooden six-pack holder. Thankfully he also included all the required measurements and details so it wasn’t very hard to recreate on my own. So I called up my Dad, the master woodworker and started laying out plans to make these boxes in bulk.

My first stop was Google SketchUp to render the parts needed in 3D. This helped me figure out how much of which kinds of wood I would need to buy at the hardware store. Modeling only took about 10 minutes and kept me from spending money on wood I wouldn’t be using. Worth the extra time to me.

Here’s the parts list for making one (1) beer tote:

      One (1) Piece of 1/2″ poplar dowel, 10″ long
      One (1) 32″ of 1″x6″ pine board, 32″ long
      One (1) 1/4″ plywood, 3′x3′ (I used a handy board)
      Wood stain
      Wall mounted bottle opener

Obviously you can switch out any of the types of wood used for something that strikes your fancy.

Cutting and construction was fairly straight forward. We cut all the wood to the listed sizes in the diagram above (and in the included SketchUp file on Thingiverse). After giving them all a good sanding we setup a jig on the router to route out the interior pieces of the boxes so they would slide together and keep the beers separated. The holes were cut in the side panels with a drill press and then we got on to staining. I only used one coat of stain on these boxes and was happy with the results, your milage may vary.

After letting the stained wood panels dry overnight it was construction time. Where ever possible the boxes were held in place first with wood glue and then nailed with a pneumatic nail gun. After all the parts were glued and nailed we attached the bottle opener to the side with wood screws. I wish I had more to write about this project but once you start moving it’s pretty straight forward and just comes together.

I think the boxes turned out great, they look nice and are surprisingly sturdy (though this is likely because my Dad knew what he was doing). If you’re looking for a non-traditional groomsmen gift this was a pretty fun project and almost certainly not something your friends have already been gifted.


Click the picture above for downloadable CAD measurements for the project.


  • Natalie

    A most wonderful use of New Belgium :)

    • chris

      Can’t beat the Folly Pack!

  • BitterLikeAHop

    BitterLikeAHop (Reddit OP) here. Just wanted to stop in an say wow, what an amazing job! I am totally jealous of your woodworking tools, I am sure you were able to do what I did in less time with more precision. I hope your wedding day went excellently, I’ll be sure to start following your blog.

  • Harry

    Awesome. Great instructions and beautiful instructions. This should be a staple gift on Father’s Day.

  • Bob

    Awesome. I plan to make one of these!!

  • Chad

    really cool beer tote!!! will be making these for xmas gifts this year!!!
    question what was the measure at the top of the sides where the dowel goes into and how far down does the angle come down to — i see that it is 5.5″ wide at the bottom and 11″ height — but what is the top measure –2″ ??

    really cool idea!!!


  • Mr E

    On the inner struts, do you have the distance in the grooves are made? Or the depth?

  • ryan

    Hey there, I love the sixer tote. How did you secure the inside partitions?

    • chris

      I used wood glue on the bottom of the insert and on the side panels to keep it in place. It’s held up pretty well so far and feels secure. I considered nailing it in place but I don’t think I could have done it without splitting the plywood.

      • ryan

        That was my concern as well. Thanks for the post. I am making a few for Christmas gifts!

        • chris

          That’s awesome! If you post them online link back here, I’d love to see how they turn out.

  • Ford Meiser

    Great Instructions Thank you for posting! I made one for my daughter’s boyfriend for Christmas and filled it with local craft beer (pics attached.) It was fun to make and well within my novice skill set. He homebrews and he loves the caddy! I felt that the 1/2″ dowel handle didn’t seem to be sturdy enough, so I used a 7/8 dowel-the size I had handy. I’m also thinking of putting some sort of cap catcher under the opener on my next one.

    • Chris Krueger

      Wow this looks awesome! Thanks for posting pictures, it’s always fun to see someone else’s take on a simple design.

  • Mohammad Ahmad Ibrahem
  • James Patrick Gannon

    embed a magnet towards the bottom on the bottle opener side and it will catch your falling beer caps!

  • Danielle

    Just wondering about how much these cost you to make per holder and how long it took to make? Trying to decide if it’s worth my time vs just buying one for $32. Thinking of making 4 of these for Xmas gifts this year

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  • BigRy

    I am making these for my groomsmen gifts. but i want to add a slot in the interior for refreezable sheets. so that it also acts as a cooler. any suggestions?

  • Kendall

    This is a great idea. I’m wondering for those of you who’ve made them already, what the cost of materials were? I know you can get the bottle openers for like $4 but I have no idea what the wood would cost.

    • Chris Krueger

      When I made these it worked out to about $13 in wood per box. Plus the cost of the opener. I had stain but figure a few bucks for that as well.

  • Guest

    My daughter wants to know Chris is really cute or just a dweeb?

  • Jaye Bass

    My daughter wants to know if Chris is really cute or just a dweeb?

    • Chris Krueger

      Can’t it be both?

      • Jaye Bass

        I dunno. You’ll have to ask her or maybe a local female of your choice.

  • Kingwebster
    • Chris Krueger

      Thanks for the heads up, this has been resolved.

  • Suzi G.

    My husband and I enlisted the help of his dad, the master woodworker, to cut the wood for the totes. They came out amazing and we will be giving these as Christmas gifts this year. We following the parts list above which says it makes one (1) tote. That is incorrect. If you buy the above materials, you will be able to make 4 totes. We bought our materials at Home Depot for $32… only 8 dollars per tote in material!! I spend another $8 on stain and disposable brushes. Very inexpensive to make. We will be personalizing ours by adding on one of the slats “Jones Brewing Co” for our friends.

    • Paul M. Berens


      Just curious on how you intend to add “Jones Brewing Co” on the slats? Really good idea by the way

      • Suzi G.

        Not sure if you caught my earlier post. I had vinyl shop plot a stencil for each custom tote. Then I painted it with a flat black paint, let it dry, then pealed away the vinyl stencil. See pic above with “Newton Brewing Co.”

        • Paul M. Berens

          That does look good. Any chance you know the font used?

    • Rob Henderson

      Are you sure the original part list actually makes 4 not just 1? I cant imagine the originator of this project (Chris) miscalculated by that much? I need to make 4 and I don’t know wether to by what Chris says X 4 or what you are saying?

      • Chris Krueger

        Glad you have some faith in me Rob, but…

        The supplies listed were the smallest quantities I could buy at my local hardware store at the time. So I do think you should be able to get more than one box out of the supplies listed. Some things (like the dowel rod) only came in one length so I had to make do with what they had.

        If you’re looking for a more specific list I recommend downloading the SketchUp file linked at the end of the post from Thingiverse. This is a CAD model showing the absolute minimum supplies needed for the build.

      • Suzi G.

        Yes I am sure that it makes four. The guy from Home Depot helped me select all the lumber on the parts list. I increased the size of the dowel to 3/4″. The smallest sheet I could buy for the side slats and dividers was a 4×4 sheet…which gave me enough material to make the original 4 totes and enough left over to make the slats and dividers for an additional 6 totes. I am thrilled with the results. We will be giving these as xmas gifts this year.

  • Suzi G.

    I’m either going to use a stencil or stamps. I will post photo when the project is complete.

    • Suzi G.

      Here a sample from our first batch. I had vinyl shop plot a stencil for each custom tote. Then I painted it with a flat black paint, let it dry, then pealed away the vinyl stencil.

      • Chris Krueger

        Looks awesome! Nice work.

  • Tyler

    I thought you might like to see another version of your tote. I used our creme brûlée torch to burn the edges. Looks great! Thanks for posting!!

    • Chris Krueger

      Wow that looks great, I love the torch finish. Really nice addition to the project.

  • Grant Gardner

    Hi, I am brewing my own beer and want to make one of these instead of paying the $30-40 for one. I see you worked in what looks like a nice wood shop. What are the tools I would need? Thanks!

    • chris

      I used a table saw, drill press, router, and belt sander. But you could really use a lot of other tools and get the same effect. No reason you couldn’t make these with a hand saw, drill, and Dremel.

  • Em

    Just a tip for the novices out there… I recently made several of these as gifts and messed up two. i had home depot cut my 8 foot boards to 32 inch pieces but they were not precise. If you have to opt to adjust the pine measurements, the bottom board MUST BE 10 inches if you want you 6 pack to fit.
    I also opted to add screws to the underside to attach the bottom to the sides.
    Finally… Tip from True Value crew… Screw in the beer opener and then remove it. Squeeze glue onto the screw threads and reattach. This will allow a lot of extra support to the extra pressure the opener will be under.

    LOVED this project. Thanks!!!!

  • Laura

    Thanks for the great instructions on this. I made one for my boyfriend for Christmas and brewed some amber ale to go along with it. Definitely did not have the easiest tools to work with, but I think it turned out quite well. I used a hand saw for the sides and bottom and a jig saw for the inserts and side slats. Had to use a lot of finagling, but it was worth it to build something myself. Thanks again!

  • tomwww

    Did you nail the base board to the two side boards? or just use wood glue?

    • Chris Krueger

      Yeah I used nails and glue on the bottom just to be sure.

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