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.
Materials for Vintage Yardstick Coat Rack
Here’s where it all started, with a too-big collection of yardsticks and six vintage brass hooks that I dug up.
And then I scrounged 12 screws that fit the holes, not all matching, but close enough.
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- (3) Vintage yardsticks (or try this alternative–sand and stain to age)
- Saw (I used a mitre saw)
- Wood glue
- (6) Vintage hooks (or try these alternatives)
- Sawtooth hangers
- (3-4) Scrabble tiles
Step 1: Cut the Braces
Power 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
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
Before 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.
As 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
Power 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
They look pretty evenly spaced, right?
Plenty of hooks to hang your outdoor wear on.
It’s a handsome piece that I think will get a lot of conversations going.
Unfortunately, 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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