So my brother and his fiance both came in for Christmas, and I wanted to give them a different sort of present. Even though they are both dapper dressers, there are only so many scarves a guy can wear. I remembered that a couple of years ago, my brother posted this image on his Pinterest page:
At the time, the rack was available on Etsy, but the price was well over $200, and I just couldn’t swing it. This year, when I went to have a look, the product was no longer available, and a quick search of Cantilever and Press didn’t leave me much hope for finding this product in my price range. There were a couple of mimics on Etsy, but unfortunately, they were just nowhere near the original. Now I’m not advocating ripping off someone’s ideas, and I certainly wouldn’t do this to profit from it, but I was dead set on making this as Matt and Christopher’s Christmas present. When my neighbor put out a really clean pallet the week after Thanksgiving, I decided I was all in. The boyfriend helped pry off the boards I would need, but the rest of the project was all me.
First, I knocked out the stubborn wood nails and sanded down the pieces I planned to use. Then I eyeballed the original image and the space next to my front door to get an idea for size – 2 feet by 6 inches, if you’re curious. I measured (Measure twice! Cut once!), made my marks and began sawing. Yes, with a hand saw. Not that tough once you get into it.
When I finished, I made sure my edges weren’t too warped to work with and sanded some more before putting a very light coat of Minwax Special Walnut on, then sanding again. I didn’t want a super dark stain, but I did want the frame to look aged.
Putting the frame together was the toughest part. If I ever do this again, I’d likely use wood glue first, but after a lot of stop and starts and a few obscenities thrown in, I went to the expert, aka my neighbor across the street. He has every tool known to man, so I brought my project over and asked for help. He handed over a Riyobi impact drill, one I definitely want. That sucker has some power. I drilled starter holes, two at each joint, then drilled my screws in. Some people build frames with nails, but since this is intended to bear weight, I used screws.
You can see below that I already cut my branches. Big mistake. Even though I measured twice, once the box was actually together, there was a slight deviation in the measurement. More on that in a minute.
I had collected branches for a few weeks, attempting to dry them out and make sure they were bug free. Then I just used my large clippers to make a clean cut along my measurements, though this sounds easier than it is, as they are not straight. Therefore, you have to measure carefully to get the angles right. Sometimes it worked beautifully, sometimes not. The trick for the “rack” part of this is finding branches that have additional branches sturdy enough to bear weight as well. Plus, placing the branches inside the box is tricky. You want the “hook” to stick out enough to be useful, but you also want to make sure it’s inside the box enough to, again, be sturdy. Here, I’m just playing with placement:
I drilled starter holes and screwed these branches in for durability and strength. It’s tricky, but you can eyeball pretty easily. For the additional “filler” branches, I just used nails.
Unfortunately, as you can see below, some of the nails were visible once I’d started. Cue Angry Jenn. If I’m going to make something, I want it to look professional, especially if it’s a gift. And those nails were glaring at me. So I went back to Home Depot to look at trim. But the beauty of this project is its raw nature. Box it up too much, and it’s just not the same. So I called my aunt who is a true artist when it comes to woodworking, and we brainstormed. But when I got home, I remembered…I had moss. Lots of it. So I pulled out some moss and my glue gun and went to town covering the places where the nails showed.
And bingo. No nails show. It still looks natural, and to be honest, the moss is barely noticeable. Win, win.
Once I finished, I sprayed four coats of Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurathane to seal the wood. I really doused the branches themselves as I had sanded the “hooks” and wanted to make sure they were as sturdy as possible.
Last, I added two hangers on the back and wiped everything down before hunting for a box big enough to house my gift.
In the end, I was really pleased with the way it turned out, and it was so worth it to see the shock on my brother’s face when he realized I had made this myself. I absolutely love giving gifts, but giving someone a gift you’ve made that they’ve wanted is just a fantastic feeling. I hope they enjoy it for years to come.
Did you make any gifts for Christmas this year? This was so fun, I’m already trying to figure out what other gifts I can make.
P.S. Minwax in no way asked or paid for me to mention their products, I was just really pleased with the cost and quality of both the stain and poly.