Introduction: Mighty Oak Fishing Pole Rack

Here's the second gift for my Dad's birthday. I've seen a few DIY for homemade fishing pole racks, and one on here:

I wanted something a little bit more fancy, durable, and high end. I wanted this to be a piece of furniture that can be displayed in the house, rather than something that will get tossed in the closet.

Dad has a ton of fishing poles, some outside in a lock box, others inside the closet getting tangled. I called my mom and asked if she knew of a spot we could put this. She said "just don't make it stick out from the wall more than 1 foot and don't make it wider than 3 feet." So that's what I went with. :)

I then went to my woodworking friends and said "HELP!" lol. I can build just about anything. I just have no clue how to measure anything properly and I don't have the tools to do a project like this in my garage, but my friends Tim and Molly do! hehe.

Side note: Even though I am an adult, I can sometimes act like a 12yr old kid. lol. It's going to take a lot to get through this tutorial without making many many jokes. lol.... wood, rack, pole, etc. See I warned ya!

Step 1: Supplies Used

I'm sure I missed something here.

Graph Paper


Tape Measure


Wood Used:

White Oak

Fingered White Oak

Red Oak

Scrap wood

Miter Saw

Electric Sander

Sandpaper to fit sander grits 60, 80, 100, and 120

Circular Saw

Electric Drill (I actually have that Ryobi set - it's nice, the saw is a bit small - but it's niiice)

Kreg mini jig for jointing parts together

Oak pocket hole plugs for filling in where the kreg jig left spots open

Regular attachments for the drill

countersink bits (my new fav drill bit!)

1 & 1/2" forstner bit (thanks to freddie555 for recommending this bit in another previous instructable I did.)

hole saw bits (1 & 1/2" to match the forstner bit)

Wood screws - I wish I could tell you the exact ones we used, but can't. I bought some and they were the wrong size. Ended up going thru a box of random wood screws to see what worked.

Jig Saw


Clamps - many and all sizes

wood glue

wood filler

Teak Oil finish


small sponge brush

small paint pan

wood burning kit


Closed Reel Fishing Pole

Open Reel Fishing Pole - had to have something to test that it worked!

I think that's all.... I hope so :)

Step 2: Pattern? or Blueprint? It All Depends on Who You Ask!!

Before we could do anything, buy anything, or determine how long this would take - we needed a general idea of what I wanted. Out with the graph paper and pencils! I went online and previewed a few that were already made and ones that I could purchase from the chain stores. I wanted something different and standout, but had to be structurally sound. Tip, we used a loaded fishing pole (rod, reel, and attached lure) to measure and get a visual picture of where the poles would rest on the rack. It also helped to see how far they would sit off the floor.) The main idea we came up with was something that could get a good amount of air flow (just in case a damp pole rested on it), and had an interesting piece of wood at the top as kind of like the "art piece." We also discussed the idea of cut outs on the sides of the legs to look like fish. (That didn't happen, I'll explain why later) I wanted this to hold more than 6 fishing poles, but needed to not stick out too far and be really really wide. Originally we discussed live edge wood, but ha! I'm not made of money. lol. (those started at like $800 for a tiny tiny piece.) I tried to talk Tim into actual drift wood, but he said that would not be a wise choice because 1) where would we get driftwood from in the size we need 2)it would take years to dry one out 3) when it drys out it won't be the same as what I first thought 4)to keep it structurally sound we need a solid piece of wood. 5) how to keep the bugs away from the finished product? - so I skipped that.

The photos are kind of the sketches we were thinking about. I think we went pretty close to our idea. I wish we had written out better detailed measurements, but we were kind of just like - alright idea in mind, next step! (That seems to happen when Tim and I work on a project together - it's done correct, just not documented well!)

Step 3: What Would a Wood Chuck Chuck If a Wood Chuck Could Chuck Wood?

A few years ago I bought Dad something very similar to this, except it held pool que's. Today it is still in use, but has a slight tilt to it and is a little wobbly. I wanted to avoid this, and also wanted to use some nicer wood and no MDF or Veneer's! (spent a whole year working on a project with MDF - yuck!)

We went to this huge place where they cut and mill their own wood. (see two photos of Tim picking out Oak) They had everything and anything anyone could ever want. (I think Tim is now planning to build his coffee table... lol.) After all was said and done I got some Red Oak, White Oak and some Fingered White Oak. My bill was over $330. If you want to go a cheaper route, go to your local hardware store. I bet you could do this project for under $100. I really wanted a nice Oak that had character. (actually went over to home depot - they've got a Red Oak there. It's not as pretty as what I got, but it could work if you are on a tight budget. They can even cut pieces for you too.)

From there we headed to the hardware store and picked up the rest of the parts we needed. Tim was happy because I bought him a couple new bits and saw blades.

Side note: don't buy three different kinds of wood for one project! lol. At least mine were all Oak. That's a bonus. The red oak turned out a little more pink than I would have liked and the White oak was really pretty. Should have gone with that and the white fingered oak. Oh well, live and learn.

Step 4: Blueprint or Pattern? the Argument Continues!

Even though we did this already once, we did this again after we purchased supplies. Ideas always change as major factors take play. (Money, not having what you want, you find something better, and/or the car ride home produces a whole new idea lol.) So we started again, however, not over. This time the idea for the top part of the unit changed. We still kept the same idea, just used the fancy white fingered oak to be our creative piece at the top and then made detailed slots for the tops of the fishing poles to slide into. You can kind of see that in the last two images.

Step 5: Pole Rest Middle and Lots of Holes!

After lumber and tools were gathered and purchased, plans were made, and measurements were taken, we went ahead and started the build! First we will work on the middle section. Used the fancy fingered white oak that was pre-cut 3 feet wide. We used two different Poles and Reels to make sure we had the correct sizes and the Reels had enough room to sit. We drew out 12 holes on the board measuring 1 & 1/2" so that we could slide a fishing pole handle through them. We placed them 6 in the front and 6 in the middle, leaving about an inch to an inch an a half gap in the back. Using a 1 & 1/2" hole saw bit for the drill we cut completely through the board, trying to be as clean as possible and not splinter the wood. Once those were done, we marked which side we wanted as the top and flipped over to the bottom. We then took three more 3 feet sections of the same wood and traced the holes. This way we were certain all holes lined up and the poles would sit correctly. We used a 1 & 1/2 Forstner bit to cut the holes out of the very top (tip top where the poles rest), and the middle (where the reels rest) and then used the to cut halfway thru the bottom piece so that the handles could rest on them.

Then took (I believe don't quote me on this) a 1x6 piece of Red Oak, used the circular saw to cut it's height down to three feet and glued it just under the front of the board (where there were no holes coming down.) We clamped that in place, then took another piece of that same red oak and made a skirt out underneath.

For the very top set of holes that the tips of the fishing poles rest in we needed a way to slide the fishing poles in, so we took a jig saw and cut out an arched pattern. We needed to be able to access the back as well as the front spots so the arched almost flower like pattern worked the best. Fair warning, this left the sides and bottom very weak structure wise. Be careful when cutting these out to not further mess up the integrity of piece.

Step 6: The Legs...grrr

I don't have really great photos of the legs being put together and of course have lost the measurements for the legs during cleanup - ugh failure! My apologies

What I can tell you is that we used Red Oak and measured where we would like the fishing poles to rest. The legs needed to secure the middle and bottom section of the stand, and had to support the entire weight of the project. We left left a half an inch gap between the two legs on each side. We wanted a space between each of the legs so that airflow could still pass thru the bottom shelf. Fishing poles are meant to be near water, so just in case you don't want them starting to smell up the place (more than they already do lol) You can see in the middle picture that we also added half a leg to the back for support.

Originally we were going to do cut outs of fish, but since this is so tall, we needed all the support we could get from these legs. Cutouts would have just caused the whole thing to topple over.

Step 7: Don't Fall Over! Please Please Please!

Using the same red oak that we used for the back legs we made. We cut about a 4 foot length and ran it up to the top board that was going to hold the top half of the fishing poles and the fancy decorative wood. We used the Kreg Jig to make holes in the back and filled them in with screws, wood glue, and Kreg Jig plugs. This is certainly a two person if not more... step. Use lots of clamps, and wood glue! We initially laid the piece down to attach and let everything set up, then decided it would be easier to screw everything in place while standing the whole fishing pole rack up. This is where the multiple hands came in handy (ha!). We attached them to the back of the base stand and then attached the top shelf to those out stretched boards. Keep in mind when you add that top shelf that if you do the fancy cut outs like we did, that shelf will lose some of it's strength due to so much of it being taken out. So hold it carefully.

I also want to note that when we screwed everything at the base of the stand, we didn't glue or use the kreg jig. I wanted to be able to remove the top section for fitting in my car to make it to it's final destination.

Sorry I don't have better pictures of this step. These next few steps went rather quickly.

Step 8: Added Bonus!

I had some spare wood laying around from our failure attempt to add detail work to the sides of the legs. Sooooo I added a bluegill on the top art piece! I laid the pieces out to best fit, and we glued them together and fit them in place with a nail gun and short finishing nails. I then took and drew the fish features with a pencil and then again with a sharpie. I used my Dremel to add detail, and cut out any parts I wanted shaped. I used wood filler to fix any holes or cracks, and then sanded the whole thing down. I then used my wood burning kit to add details and cover up some of the yellowing from the wood filler. When I was happy I covered it in teak oil and let it dry. I just did the front side. We attached it to the back of the top piece with some wood glue and a screw thru the back. (after it was completely done, I also realized I missed a smaller fin towards the front of the fish. ooops - we're going for looks not realism!)

Step 9: Sand, Clean Sand, Test, Stain, Stain Again, and Test!

We did a light sand over the whole thing, making sure to get the sand paper into the holes and groves so nothing would get snagged when it got placed in. BE EXTRA CAREFUL at the top with the fancy cuts. You don't want to break anything like we did and have to glue it back in place and yeah - not pretty. I took a damp rag to the whole thing and cleaned off all the dust. Now comes the first fun part.... testing! We had a couple fishing rods of various lengths and reels and tested them out! They worked! Everything was easy to move in and out, I was very happy and impressed! Then using a new rag and teak oil we stained the whole piece. We used teak oil because I wanted to preserve the look of the wood without adding color. You could probably do the same with a clear coat of polyurethane, but teak oil really soaks into the wood and protects it. Make sure to get into the holes and groves so they get covered and don't pool up an excess amount. I waited till it was completely dry, about 4 hours, and then went and did another coat of oil. We let the whole thing dry over night and then laid it on it's side to get the bottoms of the legs. Those were dry in about 6 hours. Total dry time about 34 ish hours. Just because we could, we tested the whole thing again. Lol. Hey we are pretty proud of ourselves for this one! :)

Step 10: Travel and Done!!

From here the whole thing is done! I had to drive 12 hours with this in my car, so I took the top half off (where we left the screws visible on the back so I could do this) and fit it into the backseat of my car and trunk. I wrapped all the ends in rags to save my seats and the stand. When I got there I put everything together and set it in place. This thing is kind of heavy in two parts, and heavy as one piece. (My Dad said it was more awkward then heavy).

My apologies on the in consistent set of directions. Like I've said I started this post several times and just got busy and working on other stuff in the meantime, but Dad loves it. Hopefully when I go up to visit in July I can get a picture of it in place... I forgot last time I was there. The only thing I would change is the length of the legs, because Dad has his family heirlooms in there - like my Grandfathers fishing pole. These are a little longer than the average fishing pole so they just brush the ceiling. lol. Otherwise it's a great piece of furniture to hold new or old fishing poles. (Fyi update finally got a pic of where Dad keeps it! :)

Shelving Contest 2016

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Shelving Contest 2016