Make a Cool Vintage Yardstick Coat Rack

Are you like me? Do you find yourself “collecting” weird things, almost subconsciously, with no apparent purpose other than, well, you’re attracted to them? That’s what happened to me with vintage yardsticks.

One day I had one, and the next day I turned around and had [cough, cough] a hundred. Some with amazing typography from the early 1900’s, others with warm wood tones, and still others with lettering in various colors. Definitely irresistible.

But then they started flopping all over the place, tripping me up in my workroom. So I pulled a bunch of them out and laid them on my workbench and they spoke to me. “Make me into a cool vintage yardstick coat rack,” they said. And so I did.

side view of vintage coat rackThis project involved two power tools–that’s two more than usual for me.

Materials for Vintage Yardstick Coat Rack

vintage yardsticks and brass hooks Here’s where it all started, with a too-big collection of yardsticks and six vintage brass hooks that I dug up.

vintage brass hooksAnd then I scrounged 12 screws that fit the holes, not all matching, but close enough.

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Step 1: Cut the Braces

pieces of yardstickPower tool #1: a miter saw. I knew I needed braces on the back to hold the yardsticks together and since I didn’t have anything the right size, I decided to use some newer yardsticks cut into 4″ pieces (slightly smaller than the width of the three yardsticks I chose when lying side-by-side).

I wanted six braces that could hold the depth of the screws I chose so I doubled up on the braces. In other words, I cut twelve 4″ pieces to hold the six hooks.

Step 2: Glue the Yardsticks Together

elmers wood glue Lay the vintage yardsticks out on a counter or workbench and apply a bead of glue along the top edge of the bottom yardstick. Press the middle yardstick next to it and then apply a bead of glue along the top of this middle yardstick and press the top yardstick in place.

Wipe off any excess glue. Clamp them together if you have appropriately sized clamps and allow them the glue to dry.

Step 3: Attach the Braces

two braces on back of yardstick coat rackBefore I could attach the braces to the back or hooks to the front, I had to measure out the spacing. With that accomplished, I could lay out my 4″ braces in the right spots and begin gluing them in place.

Because I knew I would have some glue squeezing out the “front,” I wanted to secure the braces in place so I could turn the rack over and wipe away the excess glue. For this reason, I decided to nail them in place with two small finishing nails in each.

This step is trickier than it sounds because the glue wants to slide your braces all over the place, but you need them to stay in their proper place or you will have trouble later, which I did.

brace on back of yardstick rackAs you’ll notice, I don’t get too perfectionistic about everything–it’s a rustic piece after all and I don’t think every expects perfect.

Step 4: Drill Pilot Holes for the Hooks

drilled holesPower tool #2: an electric drill. After tacking the braces down with the nails, I turned the rack over to the front and proceeded to drill some pilot holes where I would be screwing my hooks in place.

You have to make sure that your holes are lining up with your braces otherwise you have sharp screw ends just hanging out in the back. Because of the sliding braces problem, that I mentioned above, I had to make a few minor adjustments to the placement of my hooks, but it all worked out in the end.

Step 5: (Not shown) Attach sawtooth hooks to the back of the rack with nails and glue scrabble tiles onto the lower yardstick. This last step will help the rack to hang flush with the wall.

The Completed Vintage Yardstick Coat Rack

vintage yardstick coat rackThey look pretty evenly spaced, right?

vintage yardstick coat rackPlenty of hooks to hang your outdoor wear on.

yardstick coat rackIt’s a handsome piece that I think will get a lot of conversations going.

yardstick coat rackUnfortunately, my house doesn’t have a space big enough to hold a 36″ coat rack, so it will accompany me to the Shaker craft fair come November.

But I have plans to make an 18″ rack sometime soon, so that may be a keeper. I hope you enjoyed today’s project, using what some people consider old “junk” to create something that’s both attractive and a little bit fun, too.

UPDATE: This project sold for $32.00 at the Shaker Craft Fair that I participate in each November-December.

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learn how to make a fantastic farmhouse style coat rack using vintage yardsticks!

make a vintage yardstick coat rack

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  1. Cool coatrack. I often look at rulers and yardsticks at sales and enjoy reading the graphics, imaging the history behind the advertiser.

    1. I hear you–they’re little time capsules with great graphics, 4-digit phone numbers, and insights to old-fashioned companies 🙂

  2. Very cool Diana! I love old yardsticks too. I don’t find them too often but I have a small collection going.


  3. Now, I just love that coat rack! I’ve been saving my yardsticks for some time now….
    And what a cool production coming – sure makes it enticing to have one. ;P

  4. That looks great! Hubby collects yard sticks from lumber yards and hardware stores. I don’t think he’d let me do this with his though…better get my own…lol

  5. Diana, I can’t believe you have collected A HUNDRED yardsticks!! How much time did it take you to reach that numberf? I don’t see them that often, but then, you go junking more often than I do, I’m sure.

    I love the coat rack. It just looks beyond cool. Gosh, I have to get out more and find some yardsticks. I own two and I can hardly ever find them, so it stands to reason that I need some more, right? Plus, I need to make one of those coat racks. I wonder who would like it for Christmas?

    1. Well, truth be told, Naomi, it’s a little under a hundred (I rounded up!), but it’s quite a large collection, for sure. I’ve been saving them for about 4 years. I used to just sell them one by one, but I knew I wanted to do something with them, so I’m glad I hung onto them for a while. I’m going to start selling the better quality (and local) ones, though. Glad you like the rack and here’s hoping you find a stash of yardsticks of your very own 🙂

  6. You did an awesome job. I think I’d use scrap lumber underneath so I didn’t “waste” a potential craft supply! My favorite one was 4′ long and duct taped to my static duster for my cathedral ceiling; I broke it and haven’t gotten over it yet!

  7. Love, love, your coat rack & pinned it! Yes, I DO find myself constantly gathering weird stuff 😉 Thanks for sharing @Vintage Charm!

    1. Thanks, Cecilia! I appreciate the pin 🙂 {Oh, and thanks for commiserating with me, it can be lonely hoarding alone…}

  8. Love the repurpose of yardsticks into a coat rack. Heaven knows I have plenty of yardsticks to make something similar for my office.

  9. Diana, once again you have created a winner. This would also be a great decor piece for a sewing room or over your husbands work bench. Would make a very cool Father’s Day present!
    I love vintage coat rack hooks and buy them every time I find them. My sister can’t keep the brass ones in her Etsy shop. My favorite are the old black metal schoolroom coat rack hooks. I found 8 of them last year at a garage sale for 25¢ and am waiting on the perfect vintage wood piece to make a coat rack. I have a large assortment of hooks varying in style. I need to get my bootie in gear and make something! You truly inspire me! Thanks for sharing all your fun vintage finds! I look forward to your emails!!


    1. I love those old schoolroom hooks, too, Jeri. I stumbled on quite a nice stash last year, but just used the last four to complete a project I haven’t posted about yet. Thank you for your sweet, sweet comments–my head is swelling, but you made my day 🙂

  10. Yardsticks call my name too. My biggest regret and lesson – if you see them at a yard sale, scoop them up at once. There was a pile of them (probably about 20-25 yardsticks) for TEN CENTS each. I wanted to see everything else at this yard sale and didn’t want to carry them. My loss – someone else grabbed them and I kicked myself several times when I saw her walking with them. I did get some awesome buys at this yard sale but it’s been two years and I still miss those yardsticks!

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