Introduction: Coat Rack-Organizer Shelf

About: I am an artist/builder splitting time between northern Illinois and southern Indiana. Playing with my vast collection of junk brings me infinite satisfaction

While putting away scrap in my shop and thinking about the single board challenge, I spied a leftover 2x4x10 on the rack. Not beautiful. Slightly curved. Best hidden in a wall. Still. It would be fun to play with. So I stood around for a bit considering a few ideas and decided to mimic a Coat Rack-Organizer Shelf I had designed and made a while back using pallet wood. That one lives at our friends’ beach house happily holding dog leashes, sun screen, bug spray, swim goggles and the like. This new one will have similar duty at our place on the river.


1- 2 x 4 x 10
Wood glue
1” brad nails and nailer (or finish nails and hammer)
Tape measure
table saw (or band saw)
miter saw (or hand saw)
sand paper
paint or stain (optional)
Coat hooks
Metal file

Step 1: Milling the Board.

Knowing I would be ripping the 2x4 stock to ⅜” thick slats to maximize the lumber, I first crosscut the board into shorter, more manageable (straighter) sections before trimming off the milled edges at the table saw.

I clamped a guide on the table saw to help hold it tight to the fence as I ripped it. This job would have been better done at the band saw if I had had the correct width blade. 🙄 Bad planning.

Step 2: The Cut List.

Once the slats were ripped, I cut the parts using this cut list. It can easily be modified to your liking.

10- ⅜” x 3” x 23 ⅝” = Back
2- ⅜” x 3” x 31” = Top Shelf
2- ⅜” x 3” x 18” = Box Sides
2- ⅜” x 3” x 19 ¼” = Box Shelves
1- ⅜” x 3” x 6” = Shelf Divider

Step 3: Glue Up.

The glue up was nothing new. Wood glue and a bunch of clamps. Let it dry a few hours or overnight if you can. You may end up with a few burn marks or ridges from the milling process that need to be smoothed out. If you have a thickness planer or a drum sander, this will go faster. Lacking both, I had some hand planing and sanding to do. A bit time consuming, but it worked out ok. Finish up with a couple rounds of increasingly fine sandpaper on a palm sander or sanding block.

Tip: Painting or staining at this stage is advisable. It’s easier than waiting till it’s all together as there are no inside corners to noodle with. Leaving the wood natural is also an option. If you do leave it natural, consider applying a couple layers of clear finish to allow cleaning it more easily. This will guard against long term grime and discoloration. Whatever your choice, remember not to skip a light sand between layers for the smoothest finish.

Step 4: The Box Shelf.

Once the glue up is dry, trim the edges if necessary to ensure the back and top are square. A couple of my back boards skidded in the clamping process, so I had to trim 1/4” or so off the top and bottom edges.

Using wood glue and 1” brad nails in a pneumatic nailer, I built the box shelf and centered it on the back. If you’re nailing in finish nails, you will want to use thin trim nails and you may end up having to drill pilot holes. The 3/8” thickness will split easily.

Remember when I said my board was slightly curved? A day or so after removing the clamps, a couple seams pulled apart due to the torque of that curve. I tried re-clamping, but they wouldn’t close up tight. Ugh. I had to fill them. I guess I’ll be painting instead of staining. And, noodling with inside corners since I put it all together already. D’oh!

Step 5: The Top Shelf and Hooks.

Center the top and attach it with glue and 1” brads. I decided the 6” top I glued up seemed out of scale, so I trimmed it down an 1”, but you might like the wider top shelf. The final step of the build is to attach the hooks.

The number, type, and spacing of hooks is up to you. Keep in mind the boards are only 3/8” thick. Change out the screws for 1/2” and you will only need to file down the points on the back. If you stick with the provided screws, there will be a lot more filing. An angle grinder would come in handy in that case.

Mount the completed shelf to the wall with 2” screws and finish washers. Screw into framing studs if at all possible. If not, use heavy duty wall anchors for the sturdiest installation. The shelf is very lightweight itself, but keep in mind the weight of all you might store on it.

All done. Don’t forget to show it off. Everyone will be completely surprised to learn it started out as a lowly 2 x 4!

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