Oval-Rings Quilt Rack

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This article is from Issue 63 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Create a special display for your family heirlooms.

Overall dimensions: 60"w × 5"d × 17"h

Show off a trio of beautiful handcrafted quilts with this clever wall-hung design. Three neighboring wood ovals attach to a stepped support bar to provide broad viewing of the colorful quilt patterns when hung. A top shelf with its plate groove provides room for an added decorative touch.

I chose pocket-hole and flathead screws to join the rack parts. I also built the oval rings with double layers of segments that are offset and face-glued together. A quarter-oval pattern helps you make the plywood template that is used to lay out and flush-trim the ovals to final shape. Surface-mounted metal fasteners let you securely hang the ovals on the rack and easily remove them to change quilts.

Make the rack parts first

1 Referring to the Cut List, mill enough flatsawn and quartersawn oak for the back (A), brackets (B), shelf (C), and ovals support (D). Note in Figure 1 that the ovals support is a face-lamination made from two 3⁄4"-thick pieces of flatsawn oak.

2 Cut the back (A), brackets (B), and shelf (C) to size. Face-glue two oversized flatsawn boards together for the ovals support (D). Trim the lamination to 5" wide to allow for drilling. Crosscut one end square, and set it aside.

3 Adhere the brackets (B) together with double-faced tape, flushing the edges and ends. Now, bandsaw the 1⁄2" radius shown in Figure 1, cutting just outside the line. Disc-sand the curved edges to the line. Separate the parts.

4 Using a 1⁄8" round-over bit at the router table, rout round-overs on the outside front and bottom edges of the brackets (B). Switch to a decorative profile bit of your choice (I used a Roman ogee bit), and rout the ends and front edge of the shelf (C).

Using a pocket-hole jig at the workbench, 
bore holes in the quilt rack back.
Jigsaw out the waste of the ovals support, cutting towards the holes. Use a rafter square to guide the saw along the crosscut cutlines.

5 Switch to a handheld router equipped with a 1⁄2"-diameter core box bit and an edge guide. Clamp the shelf (C) to the edge of your workbench, and rout a 1⁄4"-deep plate groove centered 11⁄4" in from the back edge and stopped 3" from the ends.

6 Lay out and drill the pocket holes in the back face of the back (A), as shown in Photo A.

I drilled three equally spaced holes for securing the brackets (B) first, and drilled the pocket holes for securing the shelf (C), spacing them approximately 8" apart. I also drilled countersunk holes at this time for securing the ovals support (D) to the back.

7 Retrieve the lamination for the ovals support (D), and lay out its shape, referring to Figure 2 and working from the square end. At the drill press, drill the holes where marked using a 1" Forstner bit.

8 Jigsaw the ovals support (D) to shape, cutting just outside the lines, as shown in Photo B. Use a wood-cutting blade with at least 14 teeth per inch. Sand the sawn edges smooth (I used random-orbit and spindle sanders).

Rout the mortise to the thickness of the table leaf hardware; trim to the layout lines with a sharp chisel.
Use a block to flush the hardware with the edge of the oval support; drive the mounting screws.

9 Clamp the ovals support (D) to the bench. With the oval-hanging table-leaf hardware and Figure 1 as guides, lay out the three mortises where shown (I used a marking knife for this). With a trim router and straight bit, rout the mortises, staying just within the layout lines. Clean up the mortises with a chisel (Photo C).

10 Place the table-leaf hardware in the mortises, mark and drill the pilot holes, and then screw just one of the two mating leaves in place, as shown in Photo D. (The opposing leaves will be surface-mounted to the ovals later.)

Drill centered pilot holes into the top edges of the brackets, and then drive the screws.

Assemble the rack

1 At the bench using pocket-hole screws, fasten the back (A) to the brackets (B), flushing the top edges. Measure the distance between the brackets, and crosscut the ovals support (D) at the unsquared end to that length. Drill a pocket hole at the narrow end of the ovals support on the bottom face. Drill two pocket holes on the bottom face of the wide end. Now, clamp the ovals support between the brackets and flush with the back’s bottom edge. Fasten the part in place, screwing through the back with flathead screws and into the brackets with pocket-hole screws. Plug and flush the pocket holes with pocket-hole plugs at this time.

2 Center the shelf (C) on the rack assembly, flushing the back edge with the back (A). Mark the hole locations on the ends of the shelf, ensuring they are centered on the brackets (B). At the drill press, drill counterbored holes in the shelf. Clamp the shelf against the rack assembly. Now, drive the pocket screws through the back and into the shelf. Remove the clamps, and use the counterbored holes in the shelf to drill pilot holes in the brackets, as shown in Photo E. Now, drive the flathead screws through the top and into the brackets.

3 Apply glue in the counterbored holes in the shelf (C). Then tap in the oak plugs, being sure to orient their grain with the shelf’s grain. Flush-trim the plugs using a block plane going with the grain.

With the stop in place, miter-cut the segments to final size, maintaining the sequence order.

Now, make the ovals

Note: Each oval is made up of two layers, or rings, of oak that are face-glued, with the front or “show” layer quartersawn red oak and the rear layer flatsawn red oak. (I used flatsawn here to save on costs, though making the rings completely out of quartersawn stock may be more effective at combating wood movement.) Each layer, or ring, consists of eight segments, with the grain following the circular contour of the shape. When you laminate layer on layer, offset the joints of the front layer from those of the rear layer for maximum strength. I used two 3⁄4 × 8 × 96" boards for each ring. After planing, assembling, and sanding, the double-layered ovals should measure 11⁄4" thick.

1 Mill enough 3⁄4" stock for three ovals (E). Plane the boards to 11⁄16" and then rip them to 61⁄2" wide.

2 Make a cut mark every 12" along one edge of all of the boards (six in all). Also, mark the eight segments to come off each board in sequence. This ensures the best grain match at assembly time. Now cut the eight approximately 12"-long pieces from the board, and stack them in the order cut. Do the same with the other five boards, and set these stacks aside.

3 Set up your mitersaw for a 221⁄2° cut to the left. Cut a scrap piece to verify the accuracy of the angle. Then, angle-cut the right-hand ends of the ring segments, again, keeping the stacks in order.

4 Swing the mitersaw blade to 221⁄2° right, and check the cut with scrap. Set up a stop to cut the left-hand ends of the segments at 111⁄2" from toe to toe (the pointy ends of the resulting trapezoid). Keeping the same edge of the segments against the fence, as in Step 3, cut the segments to final size (Photo F). Maintain the same segment stacks as before.

After applying glue, align the centered segment marks of the quartersawn ring with the joints of the flatsawn ring for maximum strength in the assembled ring blank.

5 Working on a flat surface, dry-fit the eight sequential segments from the same board to determine if the parts join without any miter gaps. If they do, glue up the segments end to end into a ring, using a strap or hose clamp for tight joints all around. If a gap exists, see “Righting a Ring” in the sidebar at left. Repeat the segment-joining process to make all six rings.

6 Sand the rings dead flat on both faces. (If you own a drum sander, use it to flatten the rings and speed the work.) Ideally, the sanded thickness of the rings should end up at 5⁄8".

7 Mark the center on the outside edges of the front (quartersawn ring) segments. Apply glue to one face of a flatsawn ring, and place the quartersawn ring on top of it, aligning its marks with the joints of the flatsawn ring (Photo G). Add clamps for a firm bond. Repeat to form the three oval ring blanks.

With the template guiding off of the bit’s bearing, flush-trim edges of the oak oval. Brace the oval against the starter pin when first contacting the bit.

8 Make four copies of the quarter oval pattern (Figure 3).

Cut out the patterns, and spray-adhere them to a 1⁄2" plywood panel, aligning their ends to form an oval shape. Bandsaw and scrollsaw the oval template, cutting just outside the lines. Sand to the lines with disc and spindle sanders to remove the saw marks.

9 Adhere the template on the quartersawn face of a ring blank, aligning the pattern joint lines with the corresponding segment joints. Trace the template on the blank (Figure 4). Remove the template. Bandsaw the oak blank to shape, cutting on the waste side. Cut the other ring blanks.

10 Reattach the template to a ring blank with double-faced tape, aligning it with the traced oval. Install a flush-trim bit in your table-mounted router. Now, for safety and better control, brace the oval against a starter pin when first contacting the bit to prevent kickback. Proceed flush-trimming the oval, as shown in Photo H. Feed the work slowly at short grain joint locations when rounding the edges to avoid tear-out. Now rout the remaining two blanks.

11 Install a 1⁄2" round-over bit, and rout the rear (flatsawn) edges of the three ovals in several passes. Switch to a table edge bit, and rout the ovate profile on the front (quartersawn) edges of the ovals. Note: be sure to drop the speed down to around 12,000 with the wider bit. If you don’t own a variable-speed router for your router table, use the 1⁄2" round-over bit on both front and back edges.

Finish and hang the quilt rack

1 Referencing the location of the table leaf hardware in Figure 1, drill the needed pilot holes and surface-mount the table leaf mating hardware parts on the three ovals (E) with screws. Test their fit with the hardware on the ovals support. Remove the hardware.

2 Decide where you want to mount the quilt rack on the wall. Then locate the studs, and measure and mark the screw locations on the front face of the rack’s back (A), between the shelf (C) and the ovals support (D), so they’re centered over the studs. Drill the counterbored screw holes for the oak buttons.

3 Finish-sand the rack and ovals through 220-grit, and then apply a stain. (I used General Finishes Danish Teak Oil Stain.) Let dry, and then apply a clear finish. (I used three coats of General Finishes Polyurethane Satin and sanded lightly between coats). Let dry.

4 Re-install the hardware, and screw the rack to the wall. Hide the screws with stained oak buttons. Place a quilt in each oval, and hang the ovals on the rack. Splay the quilts so they pleasingly overlap one another, and add a few decorative items on the shelf. Voilá!

Righting a Ring

If a gap exists during the ring dry-fit, glue-join two sets of four sequential segments using dowel spacers, as shown in Photo 1. Wipe up any squeeze-out with clean moistened rags.

Next, prepare a makeshift sled to true the half rings, starting with a piece of scrap plywood that measures at least 14 × 24". One 24" edge should be straight. Set the tablesaw fence at 13" and guiding off the straight edge, cut the opposite edge parallel to the guide edge. The plywood serves to secure and guide the ring halves for truing. Adhere a half ring to the plywood with the half ring ends just proud of the plywood’s edge. If the miter angles are accurate, very little stock removal is required to make the ring halves. Make the cut as shown in Photo 2. Now, glue-join the mating half rings to form a whole ring.

Apply glue to the ends of the joining segments of the ring halves (three joints for each ring half), and, using 1" dowel spacers between the halves, tighten the hose clamp.
Adhere a half ring to a piece of plywood with the half ring ends just proud of the plywood’s edge. With the plywood against the fence, trim the half ring ends.

About Our Designer/Builder

An accomplished woodworker from Lubeck, West Virginia, Bill Sands is a regular contributor to Woodcraft Magazine, having built several projects. In addition, he teaches woodworking classes at the Parkersburg Woodcraft store.


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