Homemade Coat Rack

A designer makes a coat rack from an old porch post.
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Photo: Lisa Docter; Illustration: Rob Leanna 

Architectural designer Lisa Docter grew up making things from scraps, whether a “fort” in the north woods of Michigan or furniture for her doll house. When she bought a former dairy farm in Wisconsin to open a farm-to-fork restaurant, she rummaged through the property’s old barns for furnishings. Coming upon original porch posts in a dusty corner, she had an idea: With a strong base added and a few heavy-duty coat hooks, each could become a coat rack for customers’ winter gear.

Coat rack

The finished coat rack has salvaged hooks and new bracket feet made from barn wood.

CLEANUP

Detergent and a stiff brush cleaned off dirt and raccoon mess; then posts were sanded with 00 steel wool, leaving finish and patina intact. The found posts had rotted top and bottom, so they were cut down to 6', the perfect height. Lisa found a wood finial for the top, attaching it with a dowel joint and wood glue.

BRACKET FEET

Coat hanger

Templates for bracket feet (12"x14")
were drawn on cardboard. Feet were cut with a scroll saw from 1 3⁄4"-thick barn planks. (Cast-iron brackets could be used instead.) Exposed edges were shaped and finished with an ogee router bit. Feet were glued and screwed (through pilot holes) to the post with 2 1⁄2" screws.

Pine bases slightly wider than the brackets (1 1⁄4" x 2 1⁄4") add stability. The extra width forms an aesthetically pleasing reveal. A double-length base was attached to two opposing brackets (secured with dado or groove cuts), then glued and screwed into the post. Two shorter bases were similarly attached. Countersunk screws avoid scratching the floor. Furniture glides or sliders added to the outside ends of the bases level the assembly and avoid scratches. Borrowing a Japanese woodworking method to age new wood, Lisa slightly scorched it with a blowtorch.

FINISHED WITH HOOKS

The pair of iron swing-out coat hooks came from a salvage store. They are attached with 1 1⁄2" Phillips-head wood screws. Orange-oil finish blended components and added a slight sheen. 

Leggy variant

Floating ogee legs used with a shorter post are a variant on the solid base. Porch columns or posts, even a stair newel, may be adapted for the project, as long as the coat rack is about 72" tall. 

Old posts and columns

Cast-off porch and stair parts are common at salvage yards—if not in your old barn.

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