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Using nothing but scrap materials, I made a modern coat rack that looks super nice! I didn’t want big coat hooks sticking out, so I figured out a cool mechanism that gives this piece some modern character. Come see how I did it so you can make one too!

  1. Arrange Scrap Wood
  2. Cut the Brass Hangers
  3. Stealthily Assemble the Pieces

1. Arrange Scrap Wood

For this project, I challenged myself to make something functional and nice looking out of scrap material. Yes, I have scrap walnut and brass. If you buy expensive pieces of hardwoods or metals, keep the offcuts and scrap pieces. I know people who have successful businesses that sell pen making blanks made from left over scrap. It is more useful than you think. But nonetheless, I cut the scrap pieces of walnut into uniform 5 inch (12.5 cm) long pieces all the same thickness. I arranged the dark wood into groups of five and tried to mix the different tones in a nice looking way. The plan is to place a wedge of brass in between the walnut groups so that they can be folded up vertically or pulled down at an angle.

To make the hinged brass pieces, I want to place a dowel through the brass wedge like an axel and have it stick into either side of the walnut groups. I’ll rely on the shape of the brass to stop against the wall when pulled down and friction between the walnut to keep it held upright when folded away. This arrangement will totally work, but will present a construction challenge later on. Next, let’s figure out the shape of those brass wedges.

2. Cut the Brass Hangers

This modern coat rack is modern because it is simple, clean, and has a mechanism to fold the hangers up and out of the way rather than having them sticking out all the time. I didn’t want someone to walk by the coat, or towel, rack and snag their arm. To make the fold-away hanger, I first got out some paper. I want to make a template first so I don’t ruin the brass scraps I had. Practicing on paper or cardboard is way easier (and cheaper) than working on your final piece of material. I first placed the pivot hole where the dowel will act as an axel. Next, I set the paper against the wooden groups so I knew where the back and the front limits actually are.

With the templates completed, I could draw and cut out the wedged shape for the pull-down hanger and the wedge for the rear stop. Once happy with the amount of travel, I traced the paper template onto my brass pieces and cut them out using my woodworking tools. I am constantly reassured by using templates. When you problem solve as much as I do, it is a handy practice that pays off when iterating your designs. Now that I have the three brass hangers cut and polished, I can begin assembly!

3. Stealthily Assemble the Pieces

This modern coat rack has to be clean and sleek, so I have to assemble the pieces in a way that doesn’t show hardware or hangers. To make this happen, I have to join all of the walnut groups together and make keyhole hangers in the back so it sits flush on the wall. First, to join all of the separate walnut groups together, I cut a dado horizontally on the back and glued in a strip of walnut. To ensure that you wouldn’t see the walnut strip from the side, I first cut off the two end scraps and glued them back in place, hiding the dado.

Now that I had a seamless block of walnut and brass that worked exactly as intended, I had to make a way for it to sit flush against the wall. The clean and sleek look would be ruined if I simply screwed some hangers on the back and it sat off the wall. A simple way to achieve this look is to cut keyholes into the back of your project. There is a special router bit, called a keyhole bit, that cuts a hole with the cutter head and the shank cuts a thinner channel. This way, a screw or nail’s head can pass into the channel and get captured. I worked carefully and slowly to ensure that the two keyholes were level across the back of the coat rack. If these two keyholes are not evenly spaced vertically, the coat rack will be crooked on the wall.

Sleek, Sophisticated Scraps

I’m really happy with the new modern coat rack. The fold-down mechanism works perfectly and looks amazing as a highlight material. The brass really pops next to the walnut. I’m happy that you can’t see any hardware of fasteners and it looks like I bought it from a fancy store that I’d never shop in. We ended up placing the coat rack in our entry way rather than in our bathroom as intended because it fit that space better. But you could totally use this design in a bathroom, jut be sure to apply finish to the brass so it doesn’t discolor over time. If you had some ideas along the way about how you would make this, please let us know! I hope that you are inspired to make something sleek and cool from scrap material for your home.