Dearest readers, I’ve been asked once again to share instructions on how to construct a clothes drying rack that was pictured in a previous post. So Sarah S., since you were the latest reader to request information, this one’s for you! Now you can make your drying rack, and you just got an honorable mention in my post! It’s your lucky day. This is an after-the-fact post, but I hope anyone who’s interested can still find these instructions sufficient enough to build one of these fantabulous racks for yourself.
If you have a small laundry room, you will find this item is a must-have. Mine replaced an ugly retractable clothes line in my laundry room, and it’s so much more efficient. I spotted something similar in a couple different high-end catalogs, and decided there’s no freaking way I’m paying that kind of money for something for my laundry room. No sir-ee. But I really wanted one, so I put on my DIY hat, and off I went. The one I made is actually a combination of two different ones I’d seen. Here’s some photos of the finished project.
First, you’ll need to come up with a wooden drying rack. I’d had mine for years, but I’m assuming you could buy one at just about any department store. A wooden one would be best since you’ll have to drill through it. I actually had two racks, and was going to make two of these, but accidentally ran over one of the drying racks with my car during construction. (I wondered what that cracking sound was.) So much for a workshop in the garage.
So the first step is to lay your rack on a flat surface in the folded position so you can see what size to make the surrounding box. My rack measures 3.5” deep, so I made my side panels 4.5” deep. Five inches would probably have been better. So I would recommend making the depth of your box and inch and a half taller than your rack in it’s folded state.
The rack itself is 30” wide so I want the inside of my box to measure 30.5”. This leaves a quarter-inch of free space on each side for free movement.
You can see in this photo the space between the outside of the rack and the inside of the box, so the rack can slide open easily. This is the quarter of an inch free space I referred to.
The rack is 21.25” tall, so I made the inside space of my box 22.5” so I have an inch clearance on the bottom, and about .25” clearance on the top. I suppose I could have split the space evenly, but it doesn’t matter as long as there is clearance on both ends.
I used some scrap wood that used to be shelving to construct the box, and I liked the idea of the rounded edges. This wood was left over from another project, and was purchased at my local Habitat for Humanity warehouse. I think the rounded edges makes for a less “home-made” look. We want ours to look like the ones in the fancy-schmancy catalogs, right? So I cut my four side boards to the appropriate lengths, and nailed them together using simple butt joints. No miters or anything crazy.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a butt joint. Just one board butted up against the other. Thus the name.
I used wood glue, and finishing nails (nails with very small heads on them) so I can countersink them, and make them disappear. I always pre-drill my holes for my nails because I stink with a hammer. Not sure why I struggle with that, but usually on the last hit of the hammer, the nail inevitably bends over, and becomes imbedded into the wood. Then I turn into a raging inferno of craziness. Not a pretty site. Needless to say, I just take an extra moment to pre-drill, and it’s added years to my life. It’s also easier to keep your two boards from shifting while you’re nailing if your nails have a pre-drilled path to follow. It’s like a nail on auto-pilot. Love it.
So now we have a free-standing box with no back. I hope you can picture that.
I used bead board paneling for the back of my project. I had this leftover from another project, but it can be purchased in 4′ by 4′ sections at your local home improvement store. Menards for me here in Central Illinois.
This next step is completely optional. I routed a groove in the back side of my box so that my bead board paneling would fit down inside the box, flush with the back so it won’t show from the side. Sort of like how a piece of glass fits down inside a picture frame.
If you aren’t a routerer (this is a completely made up word meaning “person who routes with a router”), don’t despair. You can just cut a sheet of bead board to fit the back, and simply nail it on. If you don’t want the bead board panel to show from the side, you can buy a piece of quarter-round trim, and attach it to hide the panel. I would use small nails with a decent sized head on them to nail the bead board to the back of the box. Even upholstery tacks would probably work for this. In hindsight, routing the groove in the back was probably not necessary in my case since my laundry room is small, and you don’t really get a good view of the drying rack from the side. Oh well. Time spent puttering is therapy for me, and is never wasted.
Now comes the tricky part. You’ll need to decide exactly where to drill the holes for attaching your rack to the box. If you put them too close to the back where your bead board panel sits, your rack won’t be able to open. It would be helpful to have a second person to help you hold and move the rack open and shut in order to decide where to drill. I roughed it, and decided by myself, but I must confess, I started to sweat as I was drilling my holes. Placement is important. My holes were drilled aproximately 1.5 inches from the top, and from the back of the box.
Note: You’ll want to make sure you don’t install your rack upside down. You’ll want the notched sides of the arms that hold your rack open when it stands normally, to be pointed down at the floor. If you install it backwards, you’ll have the top piece flopping open. Not too many things worse in life than a floppy, upside down drying rack.
You’ll want to drill your hole from the inside of the box as opposed to the outside, drilling through the leg of your rack first, continuing through the side of the box and out the other side.
If you’re nervous about where to drill your holes, and are sweating like I was, you could try using a tiny drill bit at first. Then stick a toothpick, a small finishing nail, a skewer or a wire though the hole to see if it’s going to function correctly. After everything seems peachy, then you can re-drill with a drill bit just a smidge larger than your bolt. And remember, if you miss-drill, all is not lost. You can fill the holes, let dry and drill again. If at first you don’t succeed…
I attached the rack to the box with a bolt that was long enough to go through the box, and the leg of the rack, allowing enough extra length to accommodate a lock nut. I put a washer in between the box and the rack leg.
To give a more professional look, I caulked around all my joints, and everywhere that the bead board panel meets my side pieces on the interior of the box.
Now that you know your rack functions properly, you can remove the bolt, disassemble your project, and prime and paint.
I painted my rack with exterior paint since it would be in contact with wet clothing. I do wish, however, that I had spray painted this crazy thing—at least the rack part, instead of brushing it. Spindles aren’t very fun to paint by hand.
I don’t have any of the hardware left that I used to hang my project on the wall, but what I used was similar to the pieces in the following picture, only nicer, and meant for hanging items on a wall. But this gives you the idea.
I put a screw through the bottom hole into the back of my box, leaving the second hole sticking out above the box. I used that second hole to screw into a stud in the wall. Mine is high enough that I can’t see the screw and bracket sticking out the top, but I painted it my wall color anyway, just so it wouldn’t show if Shaq were to stop by to do some laundry.
I know this final step seems late in the game, but I added these support pieces after installation so I could see where the unattached legs naturally sit inside the box.
I fully extended my rack and marked where the bottom legs rested. I cut a block of wood to fit in that spot, and glued it to the beadboard (I used caulk) so when I put a heavy, wet comforter on it, the rack has extra support. This rack will hold a wet, queen sized comforter, believe it or not!
So there you have it! A drying rack made all by yourself on the cheap. Now you can dry your clothes without taking up valuable floor space, and your laundry room looks like a picture from Pottery Barn. Enjoy!
This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.