I was cleaning out my room and managed to come across a lot of left over scraps from old projects that I have saved over the years with the intent of using them later. Usually, this means I organize the scraps and stash them somewhere to be forgotten until my room needs to be cleaned again. This time though I was simultaneously trying (and failing) to organize my thread, wishing I would cave and buy the expensive thread rack I never let myself get at the craft store. Very, very luckily it dawned on me that all the supplies I needed to make one were sitting right there in my pile of scraps. The thread rack I ended up with is small, flat, and can either be hung on the wall to save space or taken down to be laid flat at a work space.
Step 1: Supplies and Tools
-Scrap wood (thick enough to drill through)
-Pencil or marker
-Awl or a sharp tapered object
Step 2: Measuring and Marking
If you are comfortable with eying where you want to drill, you probably can skip this step, but it makes life a lot easier if you don't.
First thing you want to do is to measure how much wood you have and mark out a grid. Try and center your grid so that all your marks will be centered as well. My grid was a half inch by a half inch.
Then you want to use the grid to mark where you want to drill holes for the dowels. I spaced three rows at an inch and a fourth for small spools of thread and four rows at an inch and a half for standard size spools. Remember to consider the same spacing in all directions. I chose to have different spacing in order to fit all the different spools I own as well as fit more spokes onto my thread rack.
It you want to hold larger spools, use the diameter of your larger spools as your spacing between marks. If you don't plan on upholstering your thread rack, you can still easily sand the grid marks off.
Step 3: Drilling
When I went through my tools I didn't have a drill bit the same size as my wooden dowels, but I did have one slightly smaller and sandpaper so I could easily make it work with only a few extra steps. Despite whether or not you have the right drill bit, you will want to drill at roughly a forty-five degree angle. In my case I also wiggled the drill, rounding out the hole into a funnel shape. carpespasm suggested creating a jig to get the same angle every time by drilling the desired angle into a piece of scrap wood to line up all your holes.
Even if you do have the right size drill bit for the job, you might want to consider rounding the top of the holes if you also are going to upholster your thread rack in order to leave a little room for fabric and batting.
If your wood can handle it, I suggest drilling all the way through to the other side. This could be helpful later, and even if it's not, overall it really can't hurt. I decided to drill all the way through when I thought I might need wood glue to secure the dowels and would not be able to apply it on the top with the upholstery. While I did not end up needing wood glue, it was helpful when I was puncturing the fabric to insert the dowels as I needed to be able to push my tool all the way through to work properly.
Step 4: Sawing and Sanding
I had a craft package of wooden dowels which I taped together with scotch tape in groups of four or five and cut them down to roughly four inches.
You will want to sand the rough ends. I sanded one end to a taper and the other end flat. Even if you had the right sized drill bit you still might want to sand an end to a taper especially if you are going to upholster your thread rack. To test if you need to do this, try to fit the dowel into one of your holes. It should be a tight fit and not able to move loosely in any direction. If it is too loose, you will need wood or industrial strength glue to attach the dowels.
If you aren't covering your thread rack, you also will want to sand your grid lines and any rough edges on the holes you drilled at this time.
Step 5: Upholstering and Marking Your Fabric
This is entirely a it take or leave it step; if you don't want to upholster your thread rack, skip to the next step. Personally, I think covering the thread rack gives it a nice finished look that doubles as needle storage.
Cut your fabric larger than your wood and your batting to the same dimensions as your wood.
You will want to calculate how much fabric you will need to cover your thread rack. You can eyeball this easily, but if the thread rack you're making is fairly large, it might be helpful to use this equation. Find the dimensions of your sides (x) and edges (y) and plug them into x+2y+2(at least 3/4 in)
ex: a board 9.5in by 11in by .75in
Lay the fabric on your board and mark all the corners and where the holes are with a pencil. If you are going to use especially thick batting, you also might want to mark where the holes are on your batting so that you can pre-punch the holes.
Layer your batting and fabric on top of your board and turn it over. If you want a little security, you can apply a little adhesive so the batting and fabric don't shift, but it isn't necessary.
When stapling the fabric to the wood, start in the center of one side and work out, pulling the fabric tight from that center staple. Do the same thing on the parallel side, pulling everything tighter. Fold over or cut off the extra fabric in the corners and do the same thing to the last two sides.
Step 6: Attaching the Dowels and Finishing Touches
If you have upholstered the thread rack you are going to need to puncture the fabric secure the dowels. The reason we didn't do this previously when the fabric was loose is because even though we marked where the holes are, the marks will have shifted slightly after the fabric was stretched. The holes do not need to be so large for the dowel to easily pass through, think around 3/4ths the diameter of the dowel, though it really doesn't need to be exact.
You can make these holes very easily with an awl, unfortunately for me, I had misplaced mine at the time and had to improvise with a needle tool (the kind you use with clay) and the drill. An awl is very easy to use and absolutely the best way to make holes in fabric to attach eyelets, but really any sharp tapered object like a large nail or a knitting needle should work just as well. It works by pushing the fabric's weave instead of cutting into the fabric in order to reduce fraying. If you have something like this, all you have to do is use it to push through the fabric.
Next, line up the tapered end of the dowel with the hole and hammer, and it in until it is snug and doesn't move. If it wobbles and isn't staying put and hammering it in harder doesn't work, try using wood glue.
If you really don't have anything like an awl, you can try it down and dirty with a large needle and a drill like I did. Start with puncturing the fabric with a needle. Change the drill bit to a much smaller size and very, very carefully drill into the fabric, while holding the fabric as taut as you can with your fingers.
After you get all the dowels in place you can staple a sturdy ribbon to the back or attach a picture wire so you can hang it on the wall. Load up all your thread, and Ta Da! You're done.
Here are some other ideas you might want to consider while making your thread rack:
-Use pencil stubs as dowels
-Paint or stain your rack instead
-Leave room for an area to put a thicker layer of batting to make a built in pin cushion