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Build a Birch tree coat rack

High winds often leave broken branches scattered amongst the leaves at this time of year. But with a little creativity you can take those broken limbs and turn them into a great birch tree coat rack! There's nothing better than bringing a little of the outdoors inside.

What you need to start:

  • Birch tree branch offcuts, 1.5″ diameter min. for the points of connection
  • 1” x 6” boards to create the frame (recommended: clear pine if you want to paint it)
  • 2″ wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper (various grits #120 – 320)
  • Paint or stain of choice
  • Polyurethane (satin finish)
  • Staples or brad nails
  • Drill and impact driver
  • Saw (hand or power)
  • Stapler or nailer
  • Branch pruner
  • Clamps (6″, 12″ and 24″)

Directions:

To start, find at least 10 very dry, decent branches with diameter no smaller than 1.5″ and no larger than 2.5″. 

Tip: Make sure your branches aren’t fresh – the dryer the better.

Before you start cutting anything, you’ll first have to figure out how long and how tall this coat rack can be. Once you’ve decided on your size, take the 1x6 boards and cut to the desired lengths to make your frame. Two long boards for the length – two shorter boards for the sides.

Tip: Cut one extra short piece to use as a template for the branches – this piece will give you the perfect marking device to make sure each branch is the same length and cut on the same angle.

Now it’s time to assemble your frame. Don’t complete the whole frame – assemble it with the base and two sides. It’s easier to install the branches with the top off. Once the three pieces are attached, paint, stain or clear coat your frame (including the fourth side which is not yet attached), before the branches are in place. Note: sand the areas where the branches will go, otherwise the wood glue won’t adhere to sealed wood.

Next come the branches. Take your branches and pick away any loose debris or unsightly pieces you don’t want. You’ll need a fairly thick central base, with a smaller branch growing off the base – the smaller branch will serve as your “hook” for hanging coats.

Using your template, lay the branches down, clamp them in place and cut with your saw to match the templates’ height. Cut or prune “hooks” to an appropriate length, too. Using all of your cut branches, arrange them on the partially assembled frame. Use your eye for the spacing, branches are irregular so it’s not a perfect science – it’s all about the look.

When your branches are arranged, add wood glue to the bottom of each branch – then pin them in place with the nailer or stapler. With all the branches now glued and pinned in place, add glue to the tops of the branches and fix your top board into place. Now pin the tops in, as you did for the bottoms and let dry. To really secure it, wait an hour and then come back and pre-drill holes into the branches (top and bottom) and then put a screw into each end of every branch for added strength.

Tip: Add a clear coat to seal the cut ends of the small branches that are still exposed – it keeps the wood fresher looking and prevents further splitting.