Have you always lusted over antique plate racks? Yeah. Me too. But I always seemed to be too cheap or too late to buy one. So I made one instead and you can too. I think. I mean I don't really know your skills all that well, but if you can drill and glue you'll do fine.
O.K. If you're interested but scared let me calm you down. This is a reproduction antique plate rack. That means it's supposed to look rustic. That means, you can make mistakes, cut your angles wrong, break off a dowel by accident - and it'll only add to the charm of it.
So don't worry about it. We're not building a walk in closet for J Lo here people, we're making a clunky wood plate rack.
But it'll be pretty. Don't worry. Calm down.
For the past 3 years I've spotted a multitude of plate and platter racks at antique shows but they either aren't for sale or they've already been sold. Either way the vendor goes home with a black eye and an unfortunate memory of me. I go home without a plate rack.
Please understand I don't curl up my fist and punch the vendors, I mean we're all civilized here. I'm at an antique show, not a cage match. I hit them with a wood rolling pin.
A few years ago I finally decided to just make an "antique" plate rack. It's a couple of pieces of wood and some dowels. How hard can it be?
Turns out, not very hard at all.
And now that I've figured out the measurements and everything, it'll be even easier for you.
Put your unflattering but you feel cute in them anyways overalls on, it's plate rack making time.
Table of Contents
DIY Plate Rack
You can make this antique plate rack to be any size you want. It can be wider for platters or shorter if you just want it to hold a few dishes.
- Wood dowels ( cut to 6" lengths, each approximately ⅜" in diameter )
- 2, 24" lengths of 1" x 1" wood
- 2, 3" lengths of 1" x 1" wood
- Wood glue
- ¼" dowel pins (¼" refers to the diameter)
- Drill bits
→ QUICK REFERENCE ←
- Cut dowels to 6"
- Cut 1x1s to length (2@24" and 2@3")
- Drill holes every 2" down the centre of your long pieces of 1x1
- Lay drilled long pieces down and attach short pieces to inside to create a box shape
- You can attach the short ends by using wood dowel pins or just glue, screw and clamp.
- To finish the rack, using wood glue, insert 6" dowels into all of the holes.
If you already understand how this is made really all you need to know is that your dowel holes need to be 2" apart to properly support a plate or display a platter. For everyone else ... these are the steps.
- Cut your dowels to length. To speed this process up, I tied several together with an elastic band on both ends and cut through them. I got my dowels at the Dollar store in the craft section.
- Cut your 1"x1" to length. I suggested 24" but you can make your plate rack whatever length you want.
- Starting 1" in from the end, mark the centre of the wood rails every 2" with a Sharpie. This is where you dowel holes will be drilled.
- Drill straight through the wood rails at the Sharpie marks using a drill bit the same size as your dowels. In my case it was a ⅜ths of an inch drill bit for my ⅜ths of an inch dowels.
- Change to a ¼" drill bit for your dowel pins and drill through the ends of your shorter wood pieces. Don't drill all the way through. Just go in 1" or so.
- Drill corresponding ¼" holes in your long strips of wood and check to see everything lines up and fits.
- Assemble your plate rack by gluing and clamping the ends together and inserting the dowels into the holes. There's no need to glue the plate dowels into place. That way, if you happen to have a really large platter you want to hold, you can just pull out two dowels to make a larger space.
- Stain your dowels to match your wood if you like. Since I was using strips of old barnboard and brand new dowels, I stained my dowels with my DIY barnboard stain made out of steel wool soaked in vinegar. It doesn't stain the wood, but instead creates a chemical reaction which instantly darkens it.
You can also just screw the ends in with 1 ½" screws from the outside of your rails into the end piece but you'll have a screw head showing from the outside of your plate rack.
To minimize the look of the screw head, countersink the screw which will create a small pocket. Mix some sawdust together with wood glue and fill the pocket. Once dried it'll resemble wood and camouflage the screw head.
You can see an example of that in my DIY egg rack post.
This Photo Shows it All
All of those intricate steps makes this project seem really hard, so if that's the case for you and you're more of a visual learner, this photo pretty much sums it up.
If you understand this photo, you should be able to tackle this without even using the instructions.
You're done. You now have a plate rack.
Using a Drill Press
This is where I tell you that you should get a drill press if you have room for one. Just a little one. You don't *need* one for this DIY but it does make your work faster and more accurate.
- a drill press guarantees all your holes will go straight down and not at a weird angle.
- a drill press is incredibly easy to use.
- you'll use a drill press more than you think you will.
If you're using a drill press don't forget to clamp some sort of fence to the plate. You'll use it as a guide to make sure all your holes are aligned perfectly.
See? That's all there is to it. It's fun really. I mean, for me it's fun. Our definitions of fun might be slightly different.
The only thing that's left is filling it up.
I made my plate rack REALLY big. Because I'm hoping to be able to use it on the lower shelf of my new antique hardware store cabinet. I also made 2 of them because I wanted the plates to go from one end of the cabinet shelf to the other, but one long plate rack wouldn't have fit into the space.
Length of entire piece - Anything you want.
Width of entire piece - 5"
Space between dowels - 2" from centre
Length of dowels - 6" but you can make them as short as 4" if you like.
- cookie racks
- spools of ribbon (make your dowels further apart for big spools)
- pot lids
If you happen to come over ...
and you like my plate rack ... (and wood rolling pins)
They're not for sale. But I have a pair of overalls that are.
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