How to Build a Simple Wooden Coat Rack in Cherry

wall rack in cherry with iron hooks
Wall Rack in Cherry with Iron Hooks

Would you like a quick project you can knock out over a weekend?  Or maybe produce something for Mrs. Woodworker to justify all those tools?

We recently received a second woodworking commission for one of these pieces so I thought I’d open source the instructions into the ether for you. You should be able to knock one of these out in a few hours before applying the finish.

First of all, why cherry? As you can see from the picture, cherry gives you a nice unique reddish hue and the grain really pops once the finish is applied. In addition, it’s very easy to work with. It’s harder than pine on the Janka hardness test, but not so hard that it is difficult to mill.

raw cherry board woodworking
Raw Board

First, plane the board to the desired thickness.  You can have the hardwood dealer do this when you purchase the board, do it with a hand plane, or better yet use a bench top planer, like my trusty Porter Cable (see picture).  In this case, the board was partially planed when I bought it from Woodcraft, but there is still some work to do as you can see from the scruffiness (technical term) on the right hand side of the picture.  Planers generate a ton of shavings, so I recommend doing this step outside.  In addition, most planers create something called snipe at either end which is an ever-so-slight indentation.  I recommend leaving the board with a couple extra inches at either end so this can be cut away in a later step.

squaring a board woodworking
Squaring up the board

Second, square up the sides by using your table saw or Festool Tracksaw to make one clean edge (see picture).  Then mark off a parallel edge on the opposite side and cut.  If you’d like some more intel on the Festool gear pictured in this post, please check out our post on tools.




squaring the end of a board
Squaring off the ends

Next cut the board to length, by cutting from both ends.  This will cut away the snipe mentioned earlier.  Make sure the ends are square.  If you have a sliding compound miter saw like the one pictured, they typically have a laser which will aid in this.  Otherwise, a carpenter’s square will do for drawing a square line perpendicular to the long edge.

keyhole router bit woodworking
Keyhole Cuts

Next make two keyhole cuts (you can pick up keyhole router bits at Woodcraft) in the back in order to hang the piece flush to the wall.  I like to make my keyhole cuts at least 2 inches long to account for the screws not being exactly 32 inches apart in the studs.  This way you can slightly adjust the piece from side to side without any risk of it coming off the wall.  Also, set the depth to 8mm so you get a nice 3mm lip for the screw head to pull against when the piece is hanging on the wall.  This will make it very secure.  I recommend making the keyhole cuts first before routing the edges, because they are the most difficult cuts in the entire process.  If you make a mistake with the keyhole cuts you’ll have to start all over again so it’s best to do the most difficult procedures first so you are not wasting effort if you need to start over again.

round over router bit
The Magic of a Quarter Inch Round Over Bit

Next rout the short edges, then the ends, then the long edges in that order.  The reason is that you’re likely to get some minor tear out when routing the end grain.  When you rout the long edges this will clean up any tear out from the ends.  I recommend a 1/4″ round over bit for the edges which give a very streamlined look.  If you get too fancy with the edge routing, it draws the eye away from the grain of the piece.



placing metal hooks woodworking
Hook Placement

Next drill the holes for the hooks by spacing the hooks equally across the face of the piece.  In this picture you can see the placement.  Be sure to also center them vertically.  In this picture you can see the client chose gold colored hooks to match the hardware on their door which will be located close to this wall rack.  Contrast that look to the photo of another client’s piece at the top of this post.

hand sanding edges woodworking
Hand Sanding the Edges

Sand the piece using increasing sandpaper grits.  I like to use an 80, 120, 180 combination.  Start with sanding the edges by hand using a sanding block in order to preserve the sharp edges from your routing.  Then sand the large faces using a random orbit sander, if you have one.  Random orbit sanders do a good job preventing visible sanding lines.  If you don’t have a random orbit sander, hand sanding will do, it just takes a bit longer.


oil & urethane finish General Finishes
A Fine Oil & Urethane Finish

Next, add the finish.  I recommend a clear finish, like General Finishes Arm-R-Seal which you can find at Woodcraft.  The Wood Whisperer has a five step wipe-on process we’ve adopted which creates a brilliant finish.  I highly recommend TWW’s finishing DVD which is available on his website.



To add the finish, follow this five step process:

Step 1:  flood the piece with finish then wipe off after a few minutes
Step 2:  carefully wipe on the second coat.  Let dry.  Sand with 320 by hand after finish is dry
Step 3:  wipe on third coat.  Let dry.  Sand with 600 grit by hand
Step 4:  wipe on fourth coat.  Let dry.  Sand with 600 grit by hand
Step 5:  wipe on fifth coat

There you have it.  This is a quick project that is an ideal candidate to impress your client or The Wife.