The design committee, namely my wife Marianne wanted a wine glass display shelf for our kitchen counter…..



“Designing any woodworking project can be challenging at times and this project was no exception.”

Design Committee

Marianne: “The Design Committee”


The design committee, namely my wife Marianne wanted a wine glass display shelf for our kitchen counter with the stipulations being that it must hold 4 of her treasured wine glasses and it must not look like a traditional round wine glass display shelf.

Although Zebrawood is an expensive hardwood, it was my first choice for this project because of its dramatic grain and seeing as there is not much material involved in this project; it wasn’t likely to hurt the pocketbook. The first step in this project was to mill the Zebrawood to a final thickness of 3/4″ and once that process was done, I was on my way to constructing the display shelf.

This display shelf consists of 4 main parts; a top shelf, a bottom shelf and two supporting brackets. The support brackets are made from three pieces of wood (the spine, upper support and lower support) all measuring 1 1/2″ wide by 3/4″ thick. I chose dowel joinery for this assembly because it’s not only fast and accurate; it’s a joinery method whose strength is more than adequate for this application. I drilled the necessary dowel holes for the support brackets using a doweling jig and then “dry fitted” the upper and lower supports to the spine using two 3/8″x 1 1/2″ dowels at each joint. Once I was sure that the joinery fit was perfect, the assembly was glued and clamped but before setting these assemblies aside to dry,  I checked to make sure both the upper and lower supports were perfectly square (90 degrees) to the spine using a machinist’s square. The following day the glue had cured and I then removed the supports from their clamps, cut the angles on the upper and lower supports on the band saw (see drawing) and sanded both supports smooth using 150 grit paper.



The top shelf was then cut to the required size (5″ X 18″) on the table saw and with a pencil in hand, I carefully began laying out the four 1 1/2″ diameter holes and the 1/2″ slots for the stems of the glasses. I marked the center of the holes to be drilled and carried that center line to the front edge of the board. I then marked a line, 1/4″ on either side of the centre line to indicate the 1/2″ slot that needs to be removed later on the table saw to accommodate the stem of the wine glass. The four 1 1/2″ diameter holes were then drilled on the drill press using a forstner bit. A sacrificial piece of plywood was placed under the Zebrawood to prevent the backside of the Zebrawood from splintering as the forstner bit exited the material. Using a 6″ tall fence screwed to my miter gauge and standing the shelf on its front edge, I then cut the slots for the wine glass stems. I used the saw blade and made several passes to achieve the 1/2″ wide slot.5

The next step was to round over or ease the leading edge of the 1 1/2″ holes for the glasses and this operation was done with a router and a 3/8″ round over bit. The final machining operation on the top shelf was to “back bevel” the shelf’s front edge and the edges of the end of the shelf and this was done on the table saw with the blade tilted to 30 degrees. I’ve always liked this “back bevel” feature on smaller pieces; it gives the illusion of a lighter, more graceful looking piece while maintaining the strength of 3/4″ material.

The lower shelf requires fewer machining operations but there is one critical issue here and that is the location of the two notches that house the supports.  When the wine glasses hang in the top shelf, they must hang straight and be free from any interference from the support brackets. Therefore, the notches that house the support brackets must be perfectly centered between the 1st & 2nd and the 3rd & 4th holes on the upper shelf (see drawing). This requires the center of the notch to be exactly 5″ from either end of the lower shelf.

With the placement of the notches drawn on the lower shelf, I proceeded to the table saw to cut these notches the same way I cut the slots on the upper shelf.  With a tall fence fastened to the miter gauge and using multiple passes, I “sneak up” on the final width of the notch to obtain a snug fit between the notch and the support bracket.7 I then back beveled the front edge and two ends of the lower shelf the same way the upper shelf was done.3





The project was then sanded and assembled using glue and two countersunk 2″ x #8 wood screws through each of the lower supports into the underside of the lower shelf. The upper shelf was installed by placing a small bead of glue on the upper support and a single #8 X 1 1/2″ countersunk screw driven through the upper support into the underside of the top shelf. After the glue dried, the entire project was then re-sanded using 180 grit paper and top coated with 3 coats of satin lacquer.




We recently had friends over for dinner and when the wine and the wine glasses were brought to the table a strange thing happened. The conversation didn’t turn to Marianne’s treasured wine glasses; the bulk of the dinner’s conversation surrounded the wine glass display shelf.  As a woodworker, I couldn’t be happier.