Simple Plate Display Stand




Introduction: Simple Plate Display Stand

My wife and I recently visited the Dominican Republic, and returned with quite a few souvenirs - among them, a set of five colourful decorative plates. We needed a way to display them, so I created some simple and easy to make display stands with some wood I had sitting around. They turned out well, so I decided to share them with the world!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

You can build this stand with materials you may have lying around, as I did, or you can go out and buy what you need. For my stands I used 1" (2.2cm) wide square mahogany (lying around, I promise!) and 5/16" poplar dowel. If done properly, you don't even need glue or fasteners!

I've mix and matched metric and inches here (Canadians tend to do that) so double-check each number.


25-32 cm long piece of 2.2cm (1") wide square stock
18-24cm long 5/16" diameter dowel


Drill press
5/16" drill bit
Miter saw (manual or powered)
Scroll saw or a coping saw or a 3/4" chisel
carpenter's square
a ruler
a hammer or mallet
a pencil

Step 2: Basic Dimensions

Some of the dimensions will depend on the width of the wood. The dimensions I've given here are for a 2.2cm wide piece of square stock, so you might need to change some numbers so everything fits together properly. Measure the width of the wood you've got with the carpenter's square before cutting anything to length.

The dimensions will also change depending on the diameter of the plate on display; I've listed three different sets of measurements here for a small, medium and large plate.

Small Plate

Square stock: 11.2cm (x2)
Long dowel: 10cm
Short dowel: 4cm (x2)

Medium Plate

Square stock: 13.2cm (x2)
Long dowel: 13cm
Short dowel: 4cm (x2)

Large Plate

Square stock: 15.2cm (x2)
Long dowel: 15cm
Short dowel: 4.5cm (x2)

Step 3: Marking the Cut Lines and Drill Holes

The two square pieces will have notches cut in them, so they can cross at one end. The notch will be as wide as the width of the piece of wood you've got, and half as deep. In my case, the notch will be 2.2cm wide and 1.1cm deep (since the wood is 2.2cm square).

For a nice balanced look, I placed the notch 2cm from the end. On the large stand, the notch is 3cm from the end for better support. Use a carpenter's square to make sure everything is squared up, otherwise it won't fit together properly. Also make sure that everything is precisely measured, or it won't fit. Take your time when you measure everything out for good results when you cut.

Each piece will have two holes drilled at opposite ends. At the "front" of the stand, the hole is placed at the center, 1.1cm from the sides and 1.1cm from the end. Mark this position using crosshairs.

The second hole is placed at the center of the notch, 1.1cm from the sides and 3.1cm from the end.

Step 4: Cut Out the Notch

The fastest way to do this is with a scroll saw. Start with the cuts down into the wood, making sure you follow the lines precisely. Then, cut across the bottom of the notch, again making sure to follow the line precisely.

You can also do this with a coping saw, but it's harder to get a perfect cut. It's also possible to use a coping saw or a dovetail saw to do the vertical cuts, then use a chisel to cut across the bottom. Make sure your chisel is nice and sharp to prevent splintering.

When both pieces are cut, they should fit together snugly. The two halves will stay together on their own, and will sit flat on a table. If you can't fit the two sides together then shave a very small amount of wood off the end of the notch. If the pieces don't lay flat, you may have to shave a bit off the bottom of the notch. A chisel is the best tool for this, but you could do it with a saw or lots of sanding.

Step 5: Drill the Holes

Start with the holes at the ends. Place a scrap piece of wood under the piece to prevent tearout, and clap it down if you're not impatient. Drill as accurately as possible so that the hole is centered as marked.

In order to get the holes through the notches to line up, they should be drilled at the same time (ie. with the two pieces assembled). Clamp the two halves onto a piece of scrap wood, centered below the bit. Use at least one clamp per piece, so that each one is independently drawn flat against the drill press table. Then, drill the hole!

Step 6: Sanding and Cleaning Up

The pieces I had lying around were a little rough, so they needed sanding on every face and edge. I started with a medium grit sandpaper (100 grit) then finished with 400 grit for a nice smooth finish. I also sanded the dowels.

If any pencil marks are visible, erase them now before final assembly.

Step 7: Final Assembly

The great thing about this design is that it holds together without screws, nails or glue. Well, if you cut everything properly, that is!

With another scrap piece of wood, use a hammer or mallet to drive the dowels into the two halves of the stand. It's easiest to do this on a concrete floor, but any hard, flat surface will do. The two smaller dowels go in the "front" holes, and the longer dowel goes through the "notch" hole. Dowels are sized very slightly larger than the matching drill bit size, so the fit will be nice and tight. The stand should hold together on its own.

If anything doesn't fit snugly, you can use carpenter's glue to make sure everything stay is one piece.

And that's just about it! If you'd like to paint or stain the stand, go right ahead! Match your decor! It's your choice.

Step 8: All Done!

These stands work great and look pretty good too. Feel free to change the size depending on the type of plate you want to display. For instance, the stand might need to be larger with a short rear dowel if you want to display a bowl. You can also change the angle at which the two halves are connected (say, different from the 90 degree angle used here), but it will be more difficult to measure and cut accurately.

Other tips:

Really heavy plates may require a thicker rear dowel (say, 3/8") in addition to an overall larger stand.

You can add rubber feet to the bottom of the stand to avoid damage to the surface it's resting on.

With a sander or saw, you could round out or curve the edges of the stand to change the look.

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    8 months ago

    Jeff-O. Thanks so much for sharing this!


    Question 4 years ago on Step 4

    What alternatives are there if I don't have a scroll saw? any hand saws that you would recommend?


    5 years ago

    Just need a plate stand for my girlfriend


    6 years ago

    great design. awesome use of scrap materials. my wife is a preschool teacher and needed 32 plate displays for hand painted plates her students are making for Christmas. cleaned a bunch of scrap outa my shop and had a good time. kudos


    13 years ago on Introduction

    I like! This could easily be adapted for other uses such as holding a flatscreen or painting. Good job.


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Sure could! You could also use it to hold open a book, like a recipe book while you're cooking.


    13 years ago on Introduction

    That looks great, your instructions are clear and you have really nice pictures!