Since we're into anime, the coat rack ended up being themed around a most-excellent anime series called Code Geass. However, when you're making something based on some existing series, one of my rules is that you should try to make it such that it's enjoyable for everyone, even if you don't know the series. It doesn't have to be blatantly obvious that this coat rack is based on Code Geass. Instead, you can make it your little secret that's hiding in plain sight, waiting for someone "on the inside" to be discovered :) With that said, enough with the introduction already; ikimashou!
Table of contents:
- Tools and materials
- Making the front panel
- Cutting the Geass symbol
- Making the back panel
- Making coat hooks
- Putting it all together
- Making wall mounts
- Finishing touches
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Long strip of wood (2m x 2.7cm x 1cm)
- Small sheet of MDF (40cm x 10cm x 8mm)
- 10 flat head screws (about 2cm long), to attach the coat-hanging hooks
- 8 dome head screws (about 1cm long), 6 to attach the wall mounts to the coat rack + 2 screws to serve as standoffs
- 2 dome head screws (about 2cm long), to attach the wall mounts to the wall
- Circular saw (or a hand saw)
- Backsaw + mitre box (The mitre box should at least be 10cm wide though. Otherwise, see this instructable to make your own variable-width mitre box.)
- Scroll saw (Alternatively, you can also try a jigsaw, fretsaw, coping saw or a bandsaw.)
- Wood glue + rags (to clean up squeeze out)
- Sandpaper (and optionally an orbital sander)
- Double-sided tape
- Spray adhesive (or a glue stick)
- Clear lacquer spray (matte)
- Spring/bar clamps
- Pencil/knife + carpenter's square
- To cut the red-black grid pattern (optional):
- Grid-cutting tool (see step 2 in this instructable to build one out of Lego)
- Utility knife
- No. 2 pencil and a red colouring pencil
- To make the wall mounts (optional):
- Small sheet of metal (12cm x 3cm)
- A metal bar-shaped object that's about 0.5cm thick (I ended up using a huge wrench..)
Step 2: Making the Front Panel
- Using the backsaw, cut 8 blocks (each 10 cm in length) from the long strip of wood. (see the first picture)
- Now saw each of these blocks in half using a backsaw and a mitre box. (See the second picture; your mitre box will need to have a width of at least 10cm though. I ended up making my own variable-width mitre box.)
- Each block is now cut into two thin strips, such that the wood pattern on one strip will mirror the other. In other words, the strips are bookmatched. You can use this and play around with arranging all the strips next to each other until you get a nice-looking pattern. (see the third picture) In case some of your strips just don't look good at all, you can always cut a couple extra ones (and use the scrappy ones as clamping blocks).
- Be sure to double-check that the sides of each wood strip are smooth. If not, do a little sanding first, because the glue won't work as well on rough surfaces.
- Grab a piece of cardboard and cut it to the front panel's size. (We're going to use this cardboard with double-sided tape to keep the wood strips stuck in the right position while the glue dries.)
- Add some double-sided tape to the cardboard.
- Stick your first wood strip onto the double-sided tape. (see the fourth picture)
- Add wood glue to the side of your second wood strip and firmly push it next to the first one.
Be sure to use plenty of glue. It's fine if it squeezes out; you can just wipe it right off with some rags.
- Repeat for all the other wood strips: Add wood glue to the side, and put it in position.
- In case you notice any tiny gaps/imperfections between the wood strips, you can mush in some saw dust (that you made when cutting the strips) and rub in some extra glue.
- Let it all dry (for a few hours). Once it's done, don't remove the cardboard just yet! It adds extra strength to the entire front panel, which will come in handy when cutting out the "Geass" symbol.
- Finally, use an orbital sander (or just some sandpaper) to go over the surface of the entire front panel and make sure that all wood strips are now flush. (see the fifth picture)
Step 3: Cutting the Geass Symbol
- First print the .pdf attached to this step. (The coat rack has a width of about 40cm, so you'll need two pages.)
- Cut the drawing for the front panel from the print.
- Glue this drawing on top of the front panel with some adhesive spray. (I used glue stick instead; see the first picture.)
- Use the scroll saw to roughly separate the 4 pieces that make up the front panel. (see the second picture)
- Now use the scroll saw to closely cut along the outline of each of the 4 pieces. (see the third picture) I do like to leave some small margin of error.. since neither me nor the saw are very good at scroll sawing. (Just remember it's bad to cut away too much, but there's no harm in cutting away too little.)
- Don't forget to cut the inside slots for the coat-hanging hooks. (In case you're not using a scroll saw, you can alternatively cut these slots by essentially drilling lots of holes, then cleaning it all up with a file.)
- Use files and some sandpaper to clean up the edges. Be careful not to use too much force around sharp corners; this is where the front panel is most fragile.
- Remove the glued-on drawing and clean the surface with sand paper. (see the fourth picture)
- Finally remove the cardboard and double-sided tape. (see the fifth picture) You'll want to go very, very slowly about this. That tape is pretty strong and you don't want to put too much force on your front panel.
- Be sure to print the plans at a 100% scale, not "scale to fit the page"! I should know.. I printed it right the first time.. then needed to make some adjustments.. and then managed to print it ever so slightly too small.. and I only realized way too late. So the coat rack I made actually is a bit smaller than planned.. :)
(It's also the reason why the middle coat hook has this hexagonal slot. I already drilled a pilot hole in the front panel to start cutting this slot, assuming the 100% scale, but it was in the wrong place in the slightly-smaller scale, so I had to get creative and hide this hole by cutting a bigger hexagonal hole :) )
- As discussed in the Tools and Materials section: There are several alternatives to using a scroll saw that might work as well, like a jigsaw, fretsaw, coping saw or bandsaw. Just try not to use too much force to avoid breaking the front panel. (If you do break it.. you can normally just glue it back together again and barely notice it was ever broken.)
- I learned after-the-fact that you can actually use glue stick to attach a drawing to wood without the tedious cleanup process: First apply a bunch of masking tape to cover your workpiece, then use glue stick to attach your drawing to the masking tape instead. Once you're done, you can easily peel off the masking tape.
- I initially stored my front panel pieces in the garage while it was getting a lot colder outside.. After a day or so, the wood became slightly warped. (see the seventh picture) I'm not sure wheter it's the changing temperature or perhaps humidity that caused the warping though.. In any case, from then on I stored the pieces in my bedroom with a few books on top (to add weight) and eventually the warping mostly disappeared.
Step 4: Making the Back Panel
- Lay down the pieces of the front panel onto your sheet of MDF.
- Mark the coat rack's width and height on the MDF with a pencil or a knife.
- Use a circular or hand saw to cut the MDF to the desired size.
- Use some sandpaper to clean up the edges.
- You might also want to give the edges at the back of the coat rack some extra sanding to create a bevel. This creates the appearance that the coat rack seems thinner than it actually is. (If that trick works for smartphones, it probably works for coat racks too.. :) )
- Lay down the pieces of the front panel onto the back panel again, and trace the outline of the front panel pieces with a pencil. (see the third picture)
- At this point we can draw the grid pattern on top of the back panel's surface. This process follows the exact same steps I used in another instructable about making wooden pixel art. Just follow steps 1-4 in that instructable to draw whatever pattern you like within the areas that aren't covered by the front panel.
Alternatively, you can of course also simply add a coat of paint to those areas .. or do nothing at all if your back panel is made of something prettier than MDF.
Step 5: Making Coat Hooks
- The print that you made back when cutting the Geass symbol also contains the outlines for 6 hooks. (You only need 5, but having a spare one can't hurt.) Cut this group of 6 hooks from the print.
- Use spray adhesive or a glue stick to attach the drawing of these hooks on the remainder of the long strip of wood (that you used to make the front panel).
- Cut the hooks using a backsaw where possible. (see the first picture) Use the scroll saw for the edges that are difficult to reach.
- Use files and sand paper to clean up. (You can lay all hooks next to each other to speed this up a bit; see the second picture.)
Step 6: Putting It All Together
- First make sure that the coat hooks fit into the rectangular slots of the front panel pieces. You may need to enlarge the holes a bit using a file, or trim the hooks down with a file or sand paper.
- We can now glue the front panel pieces onto the back panel, piece by piece. (see the first and second picture) While you should generally use plenty of glue, you should also try to avoid squeeze out glue in areas with the grid pattern .. but at the same time you should still ensure that the sharp corners of the front panel pieces do gets lots of glue.. as these parts are most fragile. (see the third picture) In short, you won't be able to completely avoid that some squeeze out in areas with the grid pattern. It's not much of a problem, it's just trickier to clean up the spilled glue. I wouldn't use a rag, as you'd smear the grid pattern's graphite all over the place .. and you wouldn't be able to reach all nooks and crannies either. Instead, I picked up the globs of spilled glue with the tip of a pencil.
- Use spring clamps to keep the front panel piece locked in place. You may also want to put a piece of scrap wood or cardboard underneath the clamps to avoid damaging the piece.
- Once the first piece has dried, continue with the next piece, and so on.
- From the front of the coat rack, draw two marks per slot to indicate where the screws of each hook should go.
- Drill a pilot hole for each mark. (see the fourth picture)
- Put a hook into one of the slots, keep it in position with one hand, and use the other hand to drill two pilot holes into the hook (from the back of the coat rack).
Be careful not to drill too far! (You can stick a bit of masking tape to your drill bit to mark how far you can go.)
- Now you can attach the hook to the coat rack with screws.
- Repeat for all remaining hooks.
- Go fetch some coats and hang them onto your coat rack as an initial strength test. (see the fifth picture) I know I couldn't wait to give them a try :)
- While you should generally always drill pilot holes, you should most definitely make them for this project. It's pretty much guaranteed that your coat hooks will split if you don't drill pilot holes! (see the sixth picture)
It makes a lot of sense really.. if you put a screw into something without creating a hole first, you're not removing any material from the wood; it's just being pushed to the side to make room for the screw.. until it can't squeeze any further and the wood has no other choice but to split.
When you're drilling a pilot hole, you are actually removing material, thus creating room without pushing on the rest of the wood. All the saw dust that's created by the drill bit's tip can simply get away by travelling up the spiral of the drill bit.
Step 7: Making Wall Mounts
For the sake of my sanity, I had to come up with a different solution that would hide these screws. I tried searching the local DIY store for some sort mounting hardware, but the best I could find were some flimsy hooks for hanging picture frames.. so I ended up making my own wall mounts, which was a fun detour. Here's how I did it:
- Use a pencil to copy the drawing of the first picture onto a small sheet of metal. (The sheet of metal I used actually was a cover of a 5,25" drive bay in my computer case. I'm sure you can find plenty of useful metal if you rummage around in that pile of old electronics you don't use any more..)
- Drill holes into the metal sheet where indicated. (See the third picture; be sure to use a drill bit suited for metal, like a HSS drill bit.)
- Use a hacksaw to cut along the wall mount's outlines. (see the fourth picture)
- Now comes the tricky part: bending the mounts into a U-shape:
- First draw two pencil lines that indicate where you want the bend to start and end. (see the fifth picture)
- Put the sheet in a vice, lined up to the bottom line. (see the sixth picture)
- Before you start mashing with a hammer, go get another helper sheet of metal. You want to hold down this helper sheet right behind the part you want to bend. (see the seventh picture) This helps ensure that your bend has a tight radius and that you don't start bending where you'd like to keep things flat.
- With the helper sheet in one hand, and a hammer in the other, start making a (roughly) 45 degree bend. Don't hurt yourself when bending at this small scale; you don't have to put all that much force on your hammer to make it work anyway. Also, be sure to double-check that you're about bend in the right direction! (.. not that I'd ever make a dumb mistake like that.. *looks away whistling*)
- Now open your vice, flip the mount upside down and line it up against the other line. Close the vice and make another 45 degree bend.
- To turn both 45 degree bends into 90 degree bends, we're now going to bend the mount around whatever metal bar-like object you can find that has about the right thickness (to fit between the legs of the U shape that we want). In my case, I happened to find a massive wrench. (see the tenth picture)
- Clamp your almost-bent mount to e.g. a workbench, together with the wrench. Grab your hammer and finish up your bend until you get the desired U shape. If needed, you can use the vice to make some final tweaks.
- Hold the mount in the desired position and use e.g. a small circular file to mark the position of each screw. (see picture twelve)
- Drill pilot holes in the marked positions.
- Slide three screws into the back of the wall mount. (see picture thirteen)
- Now attach the mount to the coat rack with a small screw driver. (see picture fourteen) Note that you'll have to alternate between turning each screw to make the wall mount drop down evenly.
- To ensure that the coat rang will hang parallel to the wall, drill two more pilot holes near the bottom of the back plate, and insert two screws that will serve as standoffs. (see picture fifteen)
- In case the metal bending didn't exactly work out the first time: don't worry, you can try again. If it's already in a U-shape, try to unbend it first with a hammer's claw. Once it's somewhat in a V-shape, put it in your vise to flatten the whole thing down again. Good as new! (I probably bent and unbent the same wall mount 10 times while trying to figure out how to get the right shape..)
- Since the coat rack is fairly thin, you have to be careful not to drill too far when making pilot holes. However, I noticed that if you keep your finger on the front side of the coat rack, you can actually feel the drill bit *just* in time. That is, you can feel the wood move ever-so-slightly before the drill bit would visibly poke through on the other side.. so that's when you know you should definitely stop drilling. Granted, you'll have to drill very slowly to make this trick work, but it did work for all 6 of my pilot holes.
- I only thought of this in hindsight, but I think you should also be able to skip the initial 45 degree bends on the vice, and try doing the entire bend using just the wrench clamped to the workbench.
- Another thing I only thought of afterwards would be to mount the coat rack using a French cleat instead of making these wall mounts. That would've been a lot easier and no screws would be visible either. Oh well, at least now I have a little bit of metal bending experience doing things the hard way :) If you're going to use a French cleat however, be sure to add a few screws to attach the two parts of the cleat to each other. Otherwise you might accidentally knock the coat rack off the wall because it's so lightweight.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
Almost ready now! The last thing that remains is to add some wood finish. Before you do, be sure to double-check that your front panel's surface is smooth. If not, do some more sanding. You also want to make sure that your red-black grid pattern still is looking good. If not, make another pass with your pencils to fill in any spots that you might have missed.
All good? Good! Now you may proceed to seal the deal with some wood finish. I chose to use a can of matte clear lacquer spray. I sprayed about 8 layers of lacquer onto the coat rack from different directions to ensure every nook and cranny is covered. Let it all dry and your coat rack is ready for prime time! Just insert a couple of screws into the wall; hook up the coat rack; sit back, relax and you're all done! Now if only I could remember where I left my coat..