Build a simple wall-mounted laundry rack to dry your delicates in style

Build a simple wall-mounted laundry rack to dry your delicates in style

If you have a lot clothes that don’t dry well in the dryer it can be difficult to know where to hang your fresh washed bathing suits and gym clothes. My family used to hang damp clothes from the wire shelf above their washers, but that’s not what we want. It’s ugly and doesn’t work very well. Half the time, the clothes either fall into a pile or slip between the machines.

If space is limited, a wall-mounted folding laundry rack with a small shelf on the top is our solution. The contraption is essentially a large frame with a smaller one inside. It’s hinged. You can remove the inner frame at an angle to dry your clothes. After your clothes are dry take them down and push the drying frame back in place. It will remain there until you need it again.

This is a fairly simple build, but there are many places where things could go wrong if they’re not taken care of. I built mine using a mix of poplar pine and some scrap , wood, but you can use any wood you like. Poplar is the best wood to use if you plan on painting yours. It’s not quite as expensive as maple or oak, but it paints well and resists stains.

The laundry hanger has been in place for approximately a month and has already made a significant improvement to the appearance and function of the laundry room.

Warning: DIY projects can be dangerous, even for the most experienced makers. Make sure you have all the safety gear necessary and know how to use it properly before you start this project or any other one on our site. You should have safety glasses, a facemask and/or ear protection. You must be able to safely and correctly use power tools. Don’t attempt this project if you don’t know how to use them correctly or do not feel comfortable with the information.

Stats

  • Time: 4 to 6 hours
  • Cost: $50 to $75
  • Difficulty: moderate

Materials

How to build a wall-mounted drying rack

1. The lumber should be cut to rough dimensions. This is one of those projects that you will get better results if you mill your lumber to rough dimensions. Cut your board to a rough length. This should be about 1 inch longer than the final dimensions. You may be able to optimize your choice of wood differently, but I reached this point with one 29-inch board for the long sides of the outside frame, one 27-inch board for all sides of the inside frame, one 23-inch board for the remaining pieces of the outside frame, and a 25-inch board for the upper shelf.

If you aren’t sure of the next steps, I put together a full, detailed guide on how to properly mill and joint wood. You will need to join one side and edge, then plane the other side, and then cut the pieces to the final width using your table saw. You should have nine perfectly milled boards

  • 2 (23-by-1.5-inch) boards for the top and bottom of the outside frame
  • 2 (29-by-1.5-inch) boards for the left and right sides of the outside frame
  • 2 (20-by-1-inch) boards for the top and bottom of the inside frame
  • 2 (27-by-1-inch) boards for the left and right sides of the inside frame
  • 1 (25-by-4-inch) board for the top shelf

2. The miters should be cut. This step will also allow you to trim the boards to their final lengths. There are several ways to cut the 45-degree angles, and one of the most common is with a miter saw. Simply adjust the angle of your tool to 45 degrees, and trim the ends of each board to length. I, however, prefer to use my table saw and a crosscut sled, with the blade set to 45 degrees. For this to work, you’ll either need to set your blade to 45 degrees and cut a new blade channel in your existing crosscut sled, or build a second sled specifically for miters, which is what I did.

Before you start cutting, use a digital angle gauge to confirm that your blade is set to 45 degrees. It may not seem like much, but 44.8 degrees can leave some pretty big gaps between pieces, even if you do manage to force your frames square.

Pay attention to the directions of the angles. To make the second cut, you will need to flip each board over. If the ends of your board are not parallel, you have a problem.

After you have done your miters, dry-fit the frames to ensure everything fits as you expect.

  • Pro tip: Glue the outside frame together before cutting the miters for the inside frame. This will allow you to double-check the interior dimensions. In my case, I didn’t account for the wood I removed during milling. The gap between the frames would have been approximately a quarter-inch wider than I had planned if I had cut all the miters simultaneously.

3. Drill holes for dowels in the inner frame. Attach the dowels to the inner frame. The holes in the sides of the frame must be perfectly aligned to ensure that the dowels are parallel and the frame is square. This is easiest if you drill them simultaneously.

Use painter’s tape for securing the long sides of the inner frame together. Place the outside edges of each piece against each other, and place the shortest edge of each board in front. Next, measure the spacing between the dowels. I spread mine 4 inches apart and 3 in from each end of my board. This spacing seems to work well with most clothes that we dry.

[Related: How to wash your clothes without wearing them out]

Once the boards have been taped and the holes marked, you can drill through the boards with a 3/8-inch bit. A drill press is the best tool for this task. To drill the holes, place one of the shorter edges on the table. The other hole should be facing up. You can also use a regular drill if you don’t own a drill press. However, make sure to drill straight through the boards and not at an angle. You can make a simple jig to help the alignment.

4. Glue the frames. Corner clamps are the best way to do this. Apply a thin layer glue to each mitered end and then secure the two pieces together. Adjust the clamp so that the clamp’s outer corners are flush with the clamp’s seam. This makes it easier to attach the dowels to the inner frame before glueing it up.

If you don’t own corner clamps, painter’s tape is an option. Lay the pieces of each frame, with the outer edges facing upwards and the connecting ends in a long line. Next, stretch a 2- to 3-inch piece of painter’s tape across each joint. Flip the four boards over so that the outer edges face down and the miter joints face upwards. Apply glue to each miter joint.

Now, roll the entire line, starting at one end, so that all four boards make a square. Use painter’s tape to secure the final joint. If you’d like to see how this works in practice, I used this tape method to glue up the pieces of a coffin-shaped wedding card box.

Use a brad nailer for added stability. Drive two nails into each joint.

  • Pro tip: Before gluing, put painter’s tape along the inside corner of each board, right next to the angle of the miter. This will catch any glue that escapes when the boards are joined. It will make sanding and cleaning much easier.

5. Install the dowels into the inner frame. If you have not already, cut the dowels and attach them to the inner frame. I cut mine about an extra inch than necessary so that they stick out half an inch from the sides. Apply glue to each end of the dowels and push them through the holes.

Use a damp paper towel to remove glue residue.

Drive a single brad nail through each side of the frame to ensure stability.

Once the dowels have been secured and the glue has dried, you can use a flush-cut to trim all dowels so that they are even with the outside edge of the frame.

6. Install top and bottom nails strips on the outer frame. At this time, there is no way to secure the frame to a wall. Install a nailer strip at both the top and bottom to solve this problem.

Cut two strips of 1/4-inch plywood to the same width as the outer frame. Mine were 3 inches wide and 22 inches long. These strips should be brad-nailed to the back frame, flush with its bottom and top. The frame should have approximately 2 inches of nailer strips visible.

(Optional) 7. Route any decorative trim elements. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your frames square with right angles everywhere. If you want to avoid the blocky look, it is time to add decorative elements. I used a router with a roundover bit at the inner edge of the outer frame. This gave the inner frame a gentler profile and a gradual inward slope.

(Optional) 8. Install the shelf on top of the outer frame. If you want a shelf to go on top of your laundry hanger’s handle, do it now. Attach the shelf to your frame using glue and brad nails. Secure it with clamps until the glue dries.

9. Sand everything smooth. Time to pay the sandman. Sanding is what makes a product professional-looking and one that is marred by saw marks, blemishes, and other imperfections. You’ll never see them again, trust me. For flat surfaces, use an orbital sander and hand-sand decorative trim as necessary. Start with 120-grit paper, and then move to 150- and 220-grit to finish.

Don’t forget to sand your dowels.

10. Drill holes for the hinges. I’m not going lie, I struggle with hinges. They always end up slightly out of alignment so if you know of a foolproof way to do it, please let us know.

[Related: Build your own door and ascend to a higher level of DIY]

As a pro tip, tape the hinges to the bottom of the inner frames. Next, drill pilot holes through the tape for each hinge so that you can see exactly where it aligns in one frame.

Next, position the frame inside of the outer frame. The outer frame should be traced along the front and edges of each hinge. Next, place the hinge on the outer frame. Drill the pilot holes.

This method is quite accurate and I’ll continue to do it that way until I find another.

11. Install the magnets. These magnets will keep the inner frame in an upright position after it’s closed. There are many other ways to latch it in place, but magnets are my favorite because they aren’t too visible and easy to use.

Drill a small hole in the top corner of the inner frame’s back. Next, drill a shallow hole in the top nail strip. The two holes should align once the inner frame has been closed.

A shallow hole in a piece of wood on a DIY laundry drying rack, where a magnet will eventually go to hold the folding inner frame closed.
A shallow hole is all you need to lay the magnet in place. Jean Levasseur

Finally, glue super glue to attach the magnets in the holes. Make sure that the magnets face each other when the hole is closed.

12. Finish the job. Whatever finish you choose, put it on according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I used white spray paint. It took two coats, then a third coat.

13. The rack can be hung on your wall. Install the outer frame first. Locate and mark the wall studs and place the frame against them. Mark the studs with a pencil. Next, drill holes using a countersink bit. Next, attach the outer frame to your wall. Use a drywall anchor and only one stud if you have one stud. Even if the rack must be in a less than ideal location, make sure you hit one of the studs.

Once the outer frame has been lifted, you can install the inner one. This is best done with two people. Install the hinges in the bottom of the inner frames. Next, place the inner frame on top of the outer frame. The hinges should be screwed in place by the second person.

If your inner frame is slightly out-of-alignment, loosen one hinge and shim the hinge with thin pieces made of scrap wood. Next, tighten the hinge onto the shims. This will push the top edge of the inner frame away form the hinge you shimmed. If you shim left hinge, the frame will lean towards the right.

You can attach the inner frame to the wall before hanging the outer one, but it is easier to attach it to the wall with the dowels than to hang the hinges later. It will be easier to hang the inner frame if you do it yourself.

14. Attach the chain by cutting it. Finally, decide how far you want the laundry hanger to fold out into the room. To match the length of your chain, use wire cutters. The chain should run from inside the upper corner of an outer frame to inside the upper corner of an inner frame. Screw the hooks in the correct places. You can use very small screws if the hooks are not in the way.

Now is the time to wash your laundry and hang up a few items to dry. Maybe not. You can go away and make something else while they dry. Then, come back later to enjoy the fact that your bathing suits are dry.

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