I was cleaning out my room and managed to come across a lot of left over scraps from old projects that I have saved over the years with the intent of using them later. Usually, this means I organize the scraps and stash them somewhere to be forgotten until my room needs to be cleaned again. This time though I was simultaneously trying (and failing) to organize my thread, wishing I would cave and buy the expensive thread rack I never let myself get at the craft store. Very, very luckily it dawned on me that all the supplies I needed to make one were sitting right there in my pile of scraps. The thread rack I ended up with is small, flat, and can either be hung on the wall to save space or taken down to be laid flat at a work space.
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Step 1: Supplies and Tools

-Scrap wood (thick enough to drill through)
-Wooden dowels
-Quilt batting

-Pencil or marker
-Staple gun
-Awl or a sharp tapered object

Do  you think using foam core or a ceiling tile as the base would work? Also wood skewers (like for a kabob) instead of the dowels? Thread isn't very heavy.
While I'm not certain about a ceiling tile, having never worked with one before, I would be wary that form core would be to thin, though you should be able to use two or more layers of it glued together just fine. I would definitely use glue to secure everything since such light materials won't provide the necessary tension to hold the spokes on their own. I don't see anything wrong with using skewers instead of dowels. You might have do some creative problem solving, but those materials should create a light and cost effective thread rack. The only real reason I could give for using wood and dowels (other than already having those materials) is while thread might not be heavy, time is and the stronger your materials, the longer your project will last.
An excellant foam to use is the pink foam used around outside walls of basements. This is for insulation purposes but is excellant. Get the 1 inch thick. It is so light weight yet strong and easy to work with.
I made a thread rack based on your instructable. Here is the photo. I sanded down some shorter dowel pieces for bobbin holders, seen below the spools. I added some hooks to hold scissors, seam ripper, carded notions or whatever. I didn't have any batting, but I had some soft material that was long, round and cylindrical. I added that at the bottom for needles, hammering it in with steel tacks (not thumbtacks, but not really nails). I used the staple gun for the fabric.

I had to buy the dowels but everything else I had around, including the silly rhinoceros fabric. I forgot to stagger my dowels, so it is a bit crowded but I figure I have enough of the skinny spools that it will still be useful. I had a drill press and set up a 45 degree guide as you mentioned. I couldn't get all the holes drilled that way, so I had to do some by hand. Those were not angled as consistently but it is not too noticeable. It is quicker to do by hand.

I had access to a belt sander which made rounding off and sanding the dowels easier. The biggest divergence from your design was I did not bother to 'dot' the fabric. I just put it on there (good instructions on how to get it tight!) and felt where the pre-drilled holes were and poked with an awl. I used glue on some and not on others.

So big thanks for getting me going on this -- I'd been wanting to do it and I liked how yours looked with the fabric & your re-use/re-purpose ethic is great.
At a shop I work in, there is a very simple thread rack. Just a shelf tilted to the right angle with dowels and nails for the thread spools.

However, I am going to use your idea as where I live now is temporary.

Covering is a good idea to keep dust off and thread from drying out. Easiest way to do that is go to a bakery and plastic cake covers, then make your spool holders to fit under the cover.
lorrwill3 years ago
My neighbors are going to hate me for trying this. (Live in an apartment.) But I have all the tools, scrap wood (from making my headboard) probably some doweling somewhere, wood glue, batting, fabric. Oy what a great instructable this is!
Arteira4 years ago
Excelent idea!!! Very easy!
b1russell5 years ago
Well, DUH!  This is exactly what I need, since I have so many spools of thread - to go along with the 34 boxes of fabric I've hoarded.  Unfortunately, I don't have time to make the thread rack, because I'm looking through all the boxes, bins, bags, and baskets for the thread that matches the fabric I'm working on next.  Oh, well - the usual solution will work just as well.  I'll just go buy another spool . . .

Seriously, I love the thread rack, probably also have all the tools and materials lying around somewhere, I just have to dig - and I do mean dig - through the three-car garage that has never seen a car in order to find everything!  Thanks for the how-to.
ShadowGirl5 years ago

Nicely done! I like the crafty addition of fabric and batting. Scrap wood is so easy to find, and if you want a fancy, uncovered wood block, check out your local reusable building center or ask around on  What I like most about your project is that the spool spacing can be easily adjusted to any spool size to optimize storage space. I also like tall spindles since I want enough space below each spool to hold two matching bobbins.  I can also see creating several spool holders, arranged on a wall to create a decorative as well as functional object.

wa7jos5 years ago
 You probably don't need so steep an angle on your holes.  I've built thread racks, and 10-15 degrees is plenty.

For the ones I built, I just used the board, sanded and stained - no covering required.  The dowels were only about 2" long and drilled 1/4 to 3/8" deep.
sincerelydisregard (author)  wa7jos5 years ago
It sounds like you made very nice thread racks. Personally I choose different features for mine like steeper angles to see the thread better, covering it for aesthetic reasons and for needle storage, and long dowels so I could double stack spools if I ran out of room. I tried to create an instructable that would not need to be followed exactly, but something that could be easily modified to the users needs and preferences.
TanyaL wa7jos5 years ago
The longer dowels are nice to add the matching bobbins to the thread spools.  No more looking for the matching bobbin if they are already stacked together.
carpespasm5 years ago
Something you might want to add to the hole drilling step: You can make them all exactly the same angle by taking a scrap block of wood, drilling your desired angle through it, then using it as a guide for drilling the peg holes.
sincerelydisregard (author)  carpespasm5 years ago
That is a really great tip. It might be nice to have a jig with different angles laying around. Thanks.
 Great idea!
jmr6505 years ago
This is a wonderful project but here are some thread care items:

Do not hang in sunlight, if you are an occasional user of thread, consider a cover (hinge a clear plastic container on top) thread will ge dirty and vintage thread needs extra care and actually does best in a refrigerator to retain moisture content and keep the thread from becoming brittle.
DasBus5 years ago
 Thank you for posting this!  I love it!
kissiltur5 years ago
what an excellent carpetted work bench! Lots of room, plenty of high shelves...

Seriously, though, I'd put some scrap wood under what you're drilling to stop yourself from drilling a hole through the carpet - not to mention getting saw dust pretty deep into the fibres.
sincerelydisregard (author)  kissiltur5 years ago
I actually just staged those photographs in my living room. The lighting was better there and I was more or less using the space to produce a nice image quality than using it as an actual workspace.
Understood. Apologies for making such a feeble joke.
bad_apples5 years ago
 Your thread rack is much nicer than the ones I've found at the craft stores.
It's nice that you can customize it for different spool sizes too.
Doctor What5 years ago
My spools (and needles) are scattered across my room, and it takes forever to find what I need to start a crafting project.  Great (and stylish) solution!
ChrysN5 years ago
Nice idea! My spools are crammed into a box, I need something like this.