Textured Cedar Coatrack




About: Analog maker dabbling in digital manufacture

Most coat racks hold only a modest number of coats, and if you're a family or entertain or both you end up hanging a lot of coats on top of each other or on the floor. Not ideal. Design specs for this one were wood ("like cedar, that will match the house"), lots of hooks, horizontal but multiple rows OK. I designed the one pictured with pencil and paper and by reference to the materials I had taking up room in my garage, and made it one weekend.

Step 1: Design

Making things out of solid wood is nice but can end up being expensive. The strength of this one comes from being based on plywood, but is entirely skinned with cedar. Each hook is glued and screwed to the plywood board from behind, and then the texture was added by ripping thin strips of cedar fence boards to different thicknesses. The look is a blend of traditional (solid wood) and minimalist design (simple, repeated elements without decoration).

Step 2: Materials and Tools

You'll need plywood, cedar fence boards, wood glue, drywall screws (2" and 3").

There is lots of ripping in this project so access to a bench saw or table saw is important. A miter saw is also highly recommended. Tape measure. Router. Brad nailer.

Step 3: Measure

I decided to make this coat rack in the golden ratio, which is what I often turn to if something needs to be rectangular. The space I had available was 4' (1200 mm) wide, so leaving some gaps I went for dimensions of 39 3/8" × 63 3/4" (1000 × 1618 mm). Because the plan was to cover all of the plywood with cedar, I subtracted 3/4" (18 mm) from both sides. I wasn't sure exactly how wide an even number of board widths would be by the time I made all the glue joints, so I cut it a little wide for trimming later.

I made the plywood thicker by adding 4" (100 mm) wide strips around the outside using wood glue and brad nails, and added a French cleat about 1/3 the way down from the top. That takes care of hanging the coat rack securely.

I then marked 45° lines to layout the positions for the hooks. I drew one from the top left corner, and one from the bottom right corner, then used that spacing to lay out the remaining lines. This layout was chosen arbitrarily - they could easily be horizontal or any configuration you liked the look of.

Step 4: Cut Hooks

I first ripped a board down the middle and cut one of the resulting boards into diamonds using a miter angle of 45 degrees. I did this with fixed stops for exact reproducibility, and avoided any pieces with knots in them.

I then made a jig to allow me to rip the diamond in half using the miter gauge on the table saw. I didn't take any measurements here, I was just going for a hook shape and to cut the diamond exactly in half. Note that shape in the third picture - it's not a triangle. This was intentional, to make sure there was plenty of bulk at the tip of the hook. Note also that grain direction is correct for maximum strength.

Step 5: Tidy Up Hook

I used a round-over bit and my router table to tidy up the hook, and lightly sanded each hook. The half width length of cedar fence board provided 40 hooks, which turned out to be more than enough (I only needed 32 as it turned out).

Step 6: Edge

Plywood is a great structural material - it's strong and dimensionally stable - but its aesthetic is generally less appealing than solid wood, so the first thing I did was make a cedar edge. I ripped a piece of cedar board 1" wide and brad nailed it it to the side of the plywood (I used a brad nailer for this, but small nails would be fine too, or clamping and relying solely on the glue. Don't have clamps? Check out my instructable on improvised woodworking clamps).

Step 7: Attach Hooks and Strips

The rest of the build is a (very!) repetitive but straightforward assembly task. Each hook is glued and then attached using a drywall screw from behind.

I ripped boards into strips of different thicknesses: 1/8" (3 mm), 1/4" (6 mm), 3/8" (9 mm) and 1/2" (12 mm). You can work out how many strips you need by dividing the width of the coat rack by the width of each board.

I roughly cut a strip at a point that there was enough length above and below the hook. The strip above got cut at about 40 degrees from vertical, and butted it against the hook. The strip below got cut at about 60 degrees from vertical (I just eyeballed this, because you can't set the mitre saw that far). It needs to be acute enough that when butted against the hook there is no gap (see third photo above). The strips were glued and pinned to the plywood back with a brad nailer. I put one hook every 4 strips, and offset the hooks so there was never more than one hook per strip (that would leave you making difficult, super-precise miter cuts at both ends of a strip - not recommended! Strips were laid down randomly, I just made sure never to put two strips of the same thickness next to each other.

Step 8: The Final Strip

As I approached the end, I measured how many strips would get me as close to 1000 mm as possible and trimmed the plywood accordingly. The final strip is a full-depth one to cover the plywood edge, just like the first.

Step 9: Trim

I cut the whole rack to length with a circular saw at top and bottom.

Step 10: Finish

The whole rack got polyurethaned, because we wanted the finish to be hard-wearing and waterproof. Three generous coats.

Step 11: Hang

Hanging the rack securely is easy because of the French cleat. Work out where you want the rack to go, find the studs and screw the French cleat into the wall with some deck screws. I unluckily missed spanning two studs so had to use some drywall anchors as well as screws. Pop the rack onto the French cleat and you're done.

Step 12: Done!

Fill the rack with jackets, hats, dog leashes, whatever. Even though there are tons of hooks, we found it still filled up pretty fast...

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    11 Discussions

    I have always wanted a multiple coat rack because we usually hang more than just coats at the entryway. Bags, umbrellas, as well as hats also need their own hooks. With the multiple hooks, every single item can get organised and hung up neatly for easy retrieval later.


    18 days ago

    Really great design. Thank you for sharing.


    26 days ago

    I wonder if you could use old piano keys for the hooks?

    1 reply

    Reply 26 days ago

    I'm sure you could if you happened to have some just lying around...

    Elaina M

    4 weeks ago

    That's gorgeous - and super functional !!! What a great idea for project to tackle over the weekend :)

    1 reply
    makendoElaina M

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Thanks - and absolutely. Good luck with the build if you decide to try it.


    4 weeks ago

    You said "Strips are then angle cut to accommodate the hook". What does that mean?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Thanks for letting me know this is confusing; I will try to explain here and add further details to the step. After placement of the hook, if you just butt the strip against the hook without cutting it at the same angle as the hook, it will leave an ugly gap (not such a big deal for the top side of the hook - it will be mostly covered).


    4 weeks ago

    Great job! I love how you managed to increase the capacity of the coatrack without using more space on the sides. And it even looks like an artpiece with no coats hanging from it. You got my vote!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Thanks! It usually just looks like a giant mound of coats in our house, but I was pretty pleased with how it looked on the wall for sure.