Beer Growler Tote
My Great Uncle was a hobby woodworker. He didn’t make anything particularly big or fancy, but he did make this little stepstool that he could batch out like crazy. He had a running tally and had sold over 300 by the time he hung up his coveralls. I’ve been looking for years for my own version of a ‘stepstool’ and I think I finally found it.

I’m sure many of you know how popular craft beer is these days and most breweries will fill up growlers so you can take some fresh tap beer home with you. Carrying one growler is no problem but once you get a second, it gets tricky. They are heavy and cumbersome, and god forbid you drop and break one, wasting all that fine brew. I was looking at one of those pallet wood six pack holders for regular bottles of beer and it hit me, Growler Tote.

Where I live, there are no less than 8 microbreweries and I really think this idea will be a hit. I’ve never really gotten into the craft show scene so I am planning on going straight to the breweries and asking them to buy direct from me and then they can sell them with all their other merchandise. I could be hasty and slap a few together and approach a brewery but what if they are a big hit and I don’t have anymore put together? What I’m thinking is that before I try to sell a single one, I want a system in place that will allow me to batch them out quickly and easily. 

The intention of this thread is two-fold: a build-along and a place to solicit ideas for jigs and fixtures and anything else. So here we go.
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We’ll start with the model I came up with. It’s a combination of a couple of different ideas I found online. Surprisingly, I didn’t find an abundance of growler totes so I took some design ideas from the six pack holders that seem to be everywhere.  To be clear, I'm not married to all the elements of this design but I do really like the overall size and shape


As you can see, the rails are let into the sides so they sit flush. The vast majority of these totes I came across have the rails nailed on. The sides and rails are 3/8 thick. The bottom and middle divider are just ¼ in ply and the handle is ¾. The divider and bottom are held in with groves and the handle is held on by a through mortise.

The parts that need the most work are the sides and the handle and that's where I'm looking to develop some jigs and templates. The sides need the 4 notches cut out at the table saw with a dado set and the hole for the handle mortise.  They also need to go to the router table with a pattern bit to clean up the bandsaw marks on the curved neck. The handle also needs to have the bandsaw marks cleaned up as well as tenons cut on the ends.

Next up I'll share some of the ideas and jigs I've come up with so far and what I'm using for stock.
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Cool!  I've had in mind to create some 6-pack carriers as gifts.  I'll be watching to see how you do this.
I would arch the top of the side a bit to get more wood above the tenons. Lots of weight to be supported and twisting forces when carried.
Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things. -- G. Carlin
Very similar to a 6 pack carrier I crafted for my SIL. No fasteners, all joints let in. Bottom panel was beveled to fit in dadoes on sides. Turned a round carrying handle and drove contrasting wedges to secure. The dividers were slotted/interlocking and removable. A bottle opener was epoxied on one end. Fun to build as a labor of love...doubt (m)any would ever pay what it is was worth, as the el cheapo versions are available for a couple of bucks at all the discount home goods places...
Thanks for sharing...
I would use my cnc and carve the brewery logo in the side and up the price.
"Oh. Um, l-- look, i-- i-- if we built this large wooden badger" ~ Sir Bedevere
I would certainly agree with you Rob. The second model I'm working on does have more 'meat' above the tenon but it's still in a tricky spot. Too close to the end of the board and susceptible to splitting along the grain. In the final product I'm will likely pin the tenon to give it more strength. That brings me to the wood I'm using. I scored a lot of wood from a cabinet shop auction and along with it I got dozens of 3/8 in thick door panels. Most of them are cherry but I've also got red birch, maple, and alder. They are sitting around taking up a bunch of space so I thought this would be a great use for them. The first batch I'm working with are shorter than I'd like so that's where the design restraints come from. But even without that restraint, I wouldn't want the tote to be much taller overall. Its a really nice size as it is.

Here's a pic of the loot that I'm working with. Obviously, there is some plywood and other stuff mixed in but most of the piles are solid wood panels. 

How do you know you're learning anything if you don't screw up once in awhile?

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Quote: They also need to go to the router table with a pattern bit to clean up the bandsaw marks on the curved neck. The handle also needs to have the bandsaw marks cleaned up

Rather than a pattern bit ... use a bullnose bit ... this will give the tote (and sides) a nice rounded, smooth appearance and feel.
Would be easier on the hands as well when carrying the weight.
Like pricey cups from Starbucks, a nice tote should shine with specialty brewers. Be prepared to stamp, or print, the brewery name, also.
What is your expected price point for wholesale & retail? My gut feeling is that you’re going to need to be at about $15 each or less wholesale to get any interest from brewers so that they can flip them at $20-$25 retail. My local taproom sells a 4 crowler (32oz can filled from the tap and lidded) carrier for $20 and in two years of going weekly I’ve seen exactly 0 going in or out of the front door.


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