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Portable Clothes Rack for Events, Camping, and Gold Key (Wood Garment Rack)

An easy-to-make, wooden clothes rack!

When Queen AnneMarie mentioned She’d like to have a clothes rack in Her royalty rooms during Her reign, Gregor and I came up with an idea of a wooden break-down A-frame rack made of simple materials. We made it for less than $40 in less than an hour, and it works great!

In addition to holding royal garb, we use it at SCA events for holding gold key (loaner garb) for newcomers, we used it to hold clothes (and provide some privacy) in a crowded cabin at Gulf Wars, and we use it in our pavilion at Pennsic. You could also use it as a frame for some sort of privacy screen.

September 2014 Update: We’ve made several of these clothes racks now. The reign is long over, and we now use them at Pennsic in our pavilions as well as for holding Gold Key loaner garb at our local events. The key is making sure the holes into which you put the dowels are as snug as possible. The sturdiest one we made was of whitewood (poplar), while the pine versions seems to want to shift around a bit. None of them are intended for a lot of heavy stuff — this is just a simple, lightweight solution that was originally meant to hold just two garments (the King’s and the Queen’s). In practice, though, I load ours up at Pennsic with a LOT of clothing — it leans a bit to one side under the enormous weight of our garb (I’m a costumer), but otherwise stands and keeps our stuff up off the ground. Here’s a picture of it in use last year at Pennsic:

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Anyone can make this with a few tools and a quick trip to your local home improvement store. Here’s what you need to make your own clothes rack:

Materials and Tools:

Materials and tools needed to make your own clothes rack

4 (four) – 1″ x 3″ x 6′ Poplar boards (avoid pine or softer woods) – $6.75 each

2 (two) – 3/4″ x 48″ Poplar dowels – $3 each

1 (one) – 1 1/8″ x 48″ Poplar dowel – $4 each

1 (one) – 4′ length of rope

Saw, drill with a 7/8″ bit and a  1 1/4″ bit, pencil, and ruler

(optional) stain, primer, paint, and/or varnish




1. With your pencil, mark a 15° angle at the end of each of your four 6′ boards and use your saw to cut them. (The angles are to allow the legs of the rack to rest level on the floor. You can change this angle a bit — a larger angle will mean a wider base, a smaller angle will mean a narrower base.)

Step 1: Cut angles at bottoms of all four boards

2. Make a mark about 4″ up from the bottom of each board, centered. Using your 7/8″ drill bit, drill holes at the spots you marked. (This is where your bottom dowels will enter.)

Step 2: Drill a 7/8″ hole four inches up from the bottom of each board.

3. Flip your boards over to the other end (the top) and make a mark about 2″ down from the top of each board, centered. Drill one hole in each board using the 1 1/4″ drill bit. (This is where your top dowel will enter.)

Step 3: Drill a 1 1/4 hole 2″ from the top of each board.

4. Now assemble your rack by placing cris-crossing the tops of two boards and putting the larger dowel through both holes, then repeat with the other two boards on the other end of the dowel. Now slide the smaller dowels into the holes at the bottom of the legs. (You may need to tap the dowels and/or boards to get them all to slide through the holes — you want it to be pretty snug for stability.)

Step 4: Assemble your rack!

5. Tie your rope between the two smaller dowels. (This keeps the rack from spreading apart.)

That’s it! You can use the rope to keep the boards bundled together when it’s broken down. You can stain or paint your clothes rack. I’ll admit I haven’t bothered to do it yet, but it still works and looks great.

The rack breaks down for easy transport

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6 Comments to “Portable Clothes Rack for Events, Camping, and Gold Key (Wood Garment Rack)”

  1. GREAT idea!!!! I may have to do this myself!!!!

  2. Thanks so much for the instructions! I’ve been trying to think of a way to put a clothes hanger in my extremely small tent, but this is perfect. I’m in the middle of making one of these for myself. 🙂

  3. I really want at least one of these for Pennsic. I got so tired of fishing my clothes out of a duffel bag.

  4. Thanks for the great foundation idea. I actually converted your clothes rack to be a display art prints. Check out the results at: https://www.facebook.com/chesapeakecreative

  5. Hi there, i made a similar design based on your instructions. I thought it was sturdy enough with out the bottom dowl.

    See pics. Thanks for your post.


    • Genoveva von Lübeck

      Great! I tried to view your version at the link you left, but none of those photos look like they have a clothes rack in it! Which one is it?

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