Make this Easy and Elegant Wine Glass Rack

This project is sure to be a hit with the ladies. It’s easy to make, increases your storage capacity, and it adds a touch of class to any cabin. The glasses don’t slide around or clink together like other racks, even in rough sailing conditions or going down the road. The glasses are easy to remove for serving your favorite vino by sliding the glass out from between the flexible shock cord “clamps.” You can mount the rack on the underside of a cabinet, a shelf, or even the cabin ceiling.

The wine glasses hang upside down from shock cord attached to the board that forms two soft clamps on the foot of each glass. A bite of the shock cord is fastened in each hole (except at the ends of the cord) with a stainless steel hog ring countersunk into the back of the rack.

Typical plan for one glass. Repeat the pattern for more.
Typical plan for one glass. Repeat the pattern for more.
Materials list
  • One hardwood board. Use teak if you can get it but mahogany or even red oak will do. See the description below for dimensions. Depending on where you mount it, only one edge will be visible most of the time so the wood species isn’t critical. I used a scrap of mahogany that I already had on hand.
  • Two feet of 1/4″ shock cord for every 4 glasses.
  • One 5/16″ stainless steel hog ring for every hole.
  • Two or four #8 x 1-1/4″ stainless steel oval head wood screws and finish washers.
  • Various grades of sandpaper
  • Finishing supplies (oil, varnish, stain)
Tools list
  • Saw (table saw recommended)
  • Drill (drill press recommended)
  • 1/8″, 3/8″, and 5/8″ or 3/4″ (Forstner recommended) drill bits.
  • Router and decorative bit (optional)
  • Hog ring or equivalent pliers

Let’s make some sawdust

To make the rack, simply cut a piece of hardwood to a multiple of the dimensions shown in the drawing and plane or sand the front and edges smooth. The drawing shows the holes that are necessary for one glass and one mounting hole. You can make the rack as long or as wide as you want to hold different numbers of glasses by repeating the hole pattern. Likewise, to fit a particular place in your boat, you can make the outside margins or the spacing between rows larger or smaller. For example, to hold 4 glasses in one row like I did, cut the board 16″ long by 3.5″ wide (five sets of holes and one mounting hole in each end). Or, to hold 6 glasses in two rows, cut the board 12.5″ long by 7″ wide (four sets of holes in two rows 2″ apart and four mounting holes). If you have a router, a quarter round or Dupont profile on the edges gives it a more finished look or can match your boat’s other cabinetry.

Front ready to finish
Front ready to finish

After you have the board sized, lay out the hole centers for the shock cord and the mounting screws. Drill the through hole from front side and the countersink hole from the back side. An easy way to make the holes concentric without laying out the centers perfectly on both sides of the board is to drill a small diameter (1/8″, for example) through hole from one side. This effectively transfers the center point from one side to the other and makes a pilot hole at the same time. Use that hole to center the 5/8″ or 3/4″ countersink on the back side first and drill half way through the thickness of the board. The diameter of the countersink isn’t critical, you can use whatever size bit you have handy. The exact depth also isn’t critical so long as it’s deep enough to contain the hog rings. Then drill the 3/8″ through hole from the front side. The minimum diameter of the through holes depends on the quality of the shock cord that you use. Lower quality cord will compress enough to use 5/16″ holes. High quality cord will require 3/8″ holes. When all the woodworking is done, sand the rack and apply the finish of your choice.

Back showing groove linking rows of holes
Back showing groove linking rows of holes

String ’em up!

You can either use one length of shock cord for each row of holes or one length for all rows if you link the rows of holes together by grooves in the back side. The advantage of linking the rows is that you can adjust the tension of all of the clamps by pulling slack toward one end of the cord where you can cut off the excess. The disadvantage is that you need a router or chisels to make the linking grooves. The advantage of using one piece of shock cord for each row of holes is that you don’t need to cut the grooves. The disadvantage is that it’s harder to adjust the cord tension and you need to do it for each row. Choose whichever suits you best.

Attach the shock cord by threading one end through a corner or end hole from the front. Crimp a hog ring onto the end so that it sits completely inside the countersink and the cord cannot pull through. Then form a bite in the cord on the front side and push the bite through the next hole from front to back. Crimp another hog ring loosely onto the bite. It only needs to be tight enough to prevent the ring from coming off and it needs to be big enough so that it doesn’t pull through the hole in the rack. Pull the shock cord snug between these first two holes on the front of the rack to form a clamp and adjust the position of the hog ring to hold the tension and seat it completely in the countersink. Repeat for the rest of the holes, crossing over between rows through the linking groove if you made one, and make the clamp tension roughly equal for each one. At the last hole, crimp a hog ring tightly onto the end of the cord like you did for the first hole.

Back side with shock cord attached by hog rings
Back side with shock cord attached by hog rings

Mount the rack to your boat (check the fit first using glasses), insert wine glasses in each pair of clamps, and show it off to your lady. To test it out, I recommend a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle 2011 Ethos Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Total cost is about $5.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. capnrehab says:

    Thanks for this one, I think we’ll do it while we’re refinishing the interior wood. I’m sure it’s going to be a big hit!

    1. kbilling says:

      Best of luck on your C-22 project! I’ll be following along as you progress.

  2. Margot H says:

    I’m intrigued by this design because you say it prevents the wine glasses from clanking into each other. I’m not quite understanding how this design prevents that from happening; when I look at your picture of the mounted, finished project, it seems as though the glasses would clink. For example, when sailing in Buzzards Bay, I often encounter wake from the many motorboats, it’s just unavoidable. Could you help me visualize how this design precludes clinking in that scenario? Thanks so much for all the great ideas.

    1. Hi, Margot

      Thanks for your question. It’s not obvious in the picture, but there is a small space in between the glasses in the rack that I made, not just at the base but also at the widest points. The shock cord that I used is pretty strong and I made the loops tight enough that they don’t allow the glasses to rock back and forth at all. They’re firmly held in place. Now, your mileage may vary as they say. The measurements I give in the article fit the glasses that I chose to use with the rack. Not all glasses are the same size, so I recommend that you verify my dimensions will work with the glasses that you choose. You might have to widen the spacing slightly to accommodate larger glasses. Likewise, if you use weaker shock cord or make your rack looser, your glasses might clink together. You can also experiment first with scrap lumber to find the ideal spacing for your glasses before making your final rack with better lumber. That’s what I did.

      Best of luck with your projects,

      1. Margot H says:

        Thanks so much for the reply, that makes perfect sense now. Now that you’ve explained it, I can see how it might even be a good idea to adapt your design slightly to make individual wineglass holders instead and just mount them a good bit apart from each other. That way, when the inevitable happens and you break a glass (or you want to upgrade your stemware), you could still use these nifty racks you’ve already built, without the limitation of having to find replacement glasses of the same exact dimensions of the old glasses you originally built the rack around. Adapting your design for a more “universal fit” would be a bit more work upfront because of the extra mounting etc. but you’d end up with a mounting system that would serve you better over the long hall. Thanks again. Best, Margot

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