Introduction: Mitten Rack

About: Twitter: @bobparks

Parents know there's nothing so crazy-making as a morning scramble for winter clothes.  Kids seem to leave mittens and gloves everywhere they go.  When you have ten minutes to get out the door, their gloves are always at the bottom of a backpack or at a friend's house.  Or worse -- you find three gloves, all lefties.  

This winter I built a rack that's cut down on some of the morning chaos.  It holds onto mittens/gloves neatly, and gives you a quick visual inventory of them.  So a parent can glance at it and say, "Find your gloves before you go to bed.  Start looking on the car floor."  

The mitten rack uses clothespins, string, and scrap wood, and it goes together in about 15 minutes.  


-- Clothespins are a standard item, so they're easy to replace, disassemble, or reassemble.  Because of wear and tear, we've lost two pins over the last six months, but it was easy to replace the broken parts.

-- At first I affixed the pins directly to the board, but when they are attached by strings it's easier for hands to grasp the pin and attach the mittens quickly.  And when you need the mittens, it's easy to reach out and snap them off.

-- The design is scalable to your family.  A short rack accommodates two adults, and a longer one would aid a larger clan.  

-- The project should take less than 15 minutes to complete. 


-- Wooden Clothespins.

-- Electric Drill.

-- Scrap Lumber.

-- Vintage Screws. 

-- String.

Step 1: Cut the Board

Look for an old piece of lumber a few feet long.  A scrap of one-by would be fine (in this example, I'm using fir tongue-and-groove).  The length depends on how many mittens you need to hang.  You can use the lumber as is, but I ripped it down so it's vaguely square in dimension.  In my case, this was to get rid of the tongues and the grooves.  

Step 2: Drill Holes in the Clothespins

I used a 5/64ths bit to drill the holes, but it's arbitrary.  A small hole looks cleaner in the finished product, but makes it harder to thread the string.  

Step 3: Drill Pilot Holes in the Rack

Drill small pilot holes where the screws will go. The mittens should be spaced about an inch from each end and four inches apart.  If they are too close, they will tangle.  

The screws should be good looking.  I lucked out with these all-copper, slotted, pan-headed screws from a flea market.  

Cut the string into lengths of about three- or four-inches.  Tie one end under the screw head and tighten the screw down.  Loop the other end through the small hole in the clothespin and tie a knot.  

Step 4: Review

My 11-year old son asked why I didn't combine the mitten rack with a coat rack.  I told him that designer friend I know saw it and also suggested I hang the clothespins directly from coat pegs so that it would serve both functions.  That *would* make things tidier, but once a coat is in place you would lose the ability to see which mittens are present or missing.  This is a similar visual strategy used with workshop boards which shadow tools so people know when a tool is missing.  In some trade schools, teachers do this to prevent loss or misplacement during busy classes.

My son insisted that you wouldn't cover the mittens with coats if you hung the rack above.  He said it would look neater, save space, and be more portable if you had to move it.  He drew the sketch (below) to press the point.  With that, I told him the damned charette was over, and that he had to go to his room.  

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