Decorative Coat Rack from Found Objects

Just about everyone needs a coat rack in the foyer, by the mudroom, or in the workshop. Get creative and have some fun making your own! Finding and repurposing interesting old doorknobs, plumbing fixtures or tools is just part of the fun. See the reference section at the end of this blog for ideas on where to find them.

STEP 1 – Find board for the base

The first order of business when making a coat rack is to find a board to use as the base. Find something with lots of character, not just a pretty board, for an eclectic look. Clean up the board with water and a stiff brush, and let it dry. 

 STEP 2 – Mill and attach shelf

A nice addition to your coat rack might be a shelf. First check for nails and safely remove any found metal. True up the edge of your board with a straightedge and circular saw.

Alternatively, you could use the Kreg Rip-Cut Circular Saw Guide with a narrow reference board as a straightedge.

For the coat rack demonstrated here, the top shelf measures 2-1/2ʺ wide with a 2ʺ overhanging on each end. We ripped the top face leaving a 1/4ʺ wide x 1/4ʺ high lip on the front edge. This will keep objects from slipping off the shelf. To attach the shelf, you could use finish nails straight through the top.

For a stronger, more concealed joint, consider using a Kreg Jig like the R3 or the Mini.  For our project, we fastened the shelf to the top edge of the board using pocket holes made with a Kreg jig.

STEP 3 – Collect hangers for a decorative look

A variety of inexpensive items can be used for coat hooks. See a list of idea starters at the end of this blog. For our coat rack, we used some interesting doorknobs and escutcheon plates found during one visit to a local flea market.

The knobs and plates were disassembled, cleaned and then shot with a light coat of Watco Spray Lacquer in Semi-Gloss. The lacquer will stabilize any loose paint and cover any rust or dirt that might remain. Now you are ready to apply any color Milk Paintstain or finish of your choice.

STEP 4 – Prepare board with desired finish

The boards used in our demo project had a lot of rustic character that we wanted to keep. We lightly sanded the surface and burnished the edges to reduce the chance of splinters. We used a low angle block plane with the grain to ease the rough edges a bit.

One crack traveled near where we planned to drill a hole, so we stabilized it with Nexabond 2500 Instant Wood Glue. You could also use Titebond Thin CA Glue or Super Glue. We worked the glue into the crack using a palette knife and clamped it for 30 minutes.

The shelf was from a different species of wood and was significantly lighter in color than the base wood. We applied a few coats of Dark Oak Briwax to even out the color of the shelf and applied Clear Briwax to the other board. After drying, we buffed with a soft cloth. This left a nice sheen to the surface but retained the rustic rough-hewn look.

STEP 5 – Arrange and space knobs

Position the knobs in an attractive pattern. We used two long lock plates on either end and accented some of the other knobs with Keyhole Escutcheons. A bit of black paint behind the keyholes finished the look.

STEP 6 – Attach knobs

The knobs need to be secure and sturdy enough to hold the heaviest item that you plan to hang. For most of the knobs, we used carriage bolts set flush through the back and used 5-minute epoxy to set these in place. Dowels, screws and epoxy can help hold your knobs in place. The adhesive will help fill any gaps or voids and bond the “unlike” materials for a strong hold. Mark for knobs with a ruler or squaredrill the holes, and install the knob’s mounting hardware from the back.

Step 7 – Install mounting hardware to hang unit

Depending on the size of your coat rack, you’ll want at least two hangers on the back, spaced 16″ apart. Keyhole brackets were placed at 16ʺ on center at the back of our main board to allow mounting on washer head screws into studs. These hangers can be moved to accommodate your specific install. We recommend positioning the piece where you want it on the wall and then finding the studs. Transfer the stud positions onto the piece, and install.  If you opt to screw the coat rack directly to the studs, hide the mounting screws under hardware or button head caps.

Now you’re ready to hang up and use your new decorative coat rack!

Where do I get materials?


A suitable platform for your creativity can be diverse:

  • Rough-sawn lumber from your local Woodcraft store
  • Old interior window trim
  • Parts of discarded furniture
  • Live edge lumber
  • Yardsticks
  • Driftwood
  • Old saws
  • Fence pickets
  • Pallets
  • Old bats/hockey sticks/skis
  • Old wooden levels
  • Old drawer fronts/narrow cabinet doors
  • Old shutters

Coat Hooks

“Coat Hooks” can be equally creative:

  • Doorknobs and escutcheon plates
  • Plumbing fixtures/knobs
  • Old smoking pipes
  • Twigs
  • Electrical knobs/insulators
  • Old keys
  • Auto window cranks
  • Tops of old trophies
  • Golf club heads
  • Old tools/wrenches/hammers/mallets/clamps/plane or chisel trowels/handsaw handles
  • Old cabinet knobs


These materials can be found in several places:

  • Flea markets
  • Yard sales
  • Auctions
  • Junk shops
  • Burn piles (ask politely and don’t trespass!)
  • Curbside trash
  • Collapsed sheds (use caution!)

Using found objects in unexpected ways can garner some really interesting results. See what you can gather up, then create your own decorative coat rack that is both functional and eye-catching. Let Woodcraft help you – we hope you’ll be inspired! 

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