Introduction: Wooden Entryway Shoe Rack
When we get home to our apartment we like to take our shoes off at the front door, but it was starting to look messy. When I looked online there are some great shoe rack innovations, but nothing that would fit our space well, or that had the correct aesthetic. I needed a shoe rack that;
- Fit the space (there is only 200mm between the couch and where we walk in the door).
- Is easy to get shoes in and out of.
- Fit in with other fittings and furniture in the unit - we mainly have IKEA furniture, and we have light brown wooden cupboards, flooring, and the custom shoji screen I made in European Beech.
- Is made of wood (knowing that I would receive assistance with the build from Perth Wood School).
- Is sturdy, well built and will last a long time.
You can use these instructions to build this shoe organiser, or modify the dimensions and wood type to work well in your space. Alternatively, you can see how the different components were made, and take inspiration that way! The project takes a while (research and planning approx: 15 hrs, building approx 50 hours - over a 5 mth period), but will be worth it if you love handmade wooden furniture.
- Woodworking Bench
- Table Saw
- Surface Planer (Jointer)
- Planer Thicknesser
- Band Saw
- Drill Press
- Wood Lathe
- Turning tool (gouge)
- Compact Flush-Trim Router Bit (I think 1/2 in. dia. flush trimmer with a 1/2 in. shank was used - I am still learning how to use routers, and got assistance with setting it up).
- Biscuit Joiner
- #20 biscuits (56mm x 23mm x4mm) x approx 44(for 4 'panels')
- drill bit (for a 6.5mm screw)
- coutersink drill bit
- Nail gun (cordless framing nailer)
- Angled Nails for nailer - approximately 80 x 25mm
- Electric Orbital Sander
- Eye protection (safety glasses)
- Hearing protection (ear muffs)
- Safety footwear (steel cap boots)
- Dust mask
- Fitted, high strength disposable gloves
- Woodworking Clamps x10 large
- x4 medium
- Metal Spring Clamps x9
- Retractable Ruler
- Centre Punch Tool
- Woodworking Square (Ruler)
- Center Finder
- Pencil and eraser
- Paper - A3 and notepad
- European Beech wood (or similar);
- Rough - approx. 6 x 2500mm x150mm x 20mm (due to the wood available I started with 6 x 2540 x150 x30)
- Rough - approx. 1 x 1000mm x 200mm x 20mm (for curved ends)
- Spare wood block (such as European Beech) that will stabilise the curve: 2 x 180mm H x 205mm W x 30mm T.
- Cherry Wood;
- Rough - approx. 360mm L x 205mm Wx 25mm T (for tops of curved ends)
- Rough - approx. 205mm H x 105mm W x 55mm T (for legs)
- Plywood - European Beech (for angled pieces);
- 9 pieces at approximately 205mm H x 234mm W x 5mm T
- 9 pieces at 94mm H x 230mm W x 5mm T
- Plywood - any wood (for spacers);
- 950mm(or 2 pieces x 240mm, 2 pieces x 235mm) x 200mm x 3mm
- 200ml Woodworking glue - quality, fast-drying, for interior use
- Cardboard - scrap - equivalent of 2 boxes
- 500ml tin of Hardwax oil - high quality, non toxic, colourless
- 3 x Sanding sheets (for electric orbital sander) - 80 grit, 120 grit & 180 grit
- 4 x Sanding sheets - (for lathe and hand-sanding) - 80 grit, 120 grit, 180 grit, and 240 grit
- 1 x 400 grit Wet & Sandpaper - 1 sheet or small roll.
- 1 x Sanding block (this can be made by cutting a bit of spare wood into a rectangular block)
- 1 x Sandpaper piece- wet and dry - 400 grit
- 1 x Sanding Block
- 8 x Screws - 65mm (plus spares)
- Masking Tape (small amount)
- Rags (clean)
- Small waterproof container
- 8 x 38mm floor protector pads - round
Step 1: Initial Ideas
Start planning by evaluating your space, your needs and wants, and give time to research and brainstorm ideas;
- Think about ideally how many and what type of shoes the stand will hold, where it is best located, measure the minimum and maximum possible size your shoe stand can be.*
- Consider more about the space that might inform the design, for example, the light in the room and the style of other furniture nearby.
- Brainstorm ideas - there are many ways to do this, including writing out keywords that come to mind and sketch out ideas. Aim to be flexible (thinking about what might work, but don't start deleting or editing ideas too early - that comes later). For example, as you can see by my sketches - most of these ideas didn't make it all the way to the final design - but as I kept going, I was able to refine my ideas.
- Research what is available commercially (other shoe stands, particularly ones that fit your type of space/room/function). Keep a few pictures as reference, look at materials that have been used, think about how it was constructed. I did approximately 2 pages on using Google Docs - collecting images and snippets of information for my own reference.
*Please see the introduction for the main criteria I used for this project.
Step 2: Refine Design (inc. Make Models/Prototypes)
Now is the time to evaluate your ideas, there are many ways to do this, the way I did it was to;
- Choose the best 3 ideas, based on how well they meet your the functional and asthetic needs, and how realistic it will be that you can achieve the build (including access to resources, cost, and expertise).
- Experiment with sizes, shapes, colours (and materials).
- Chose the best of the 3 and refine further.
- Create a draft plan (with measurements).
- Create cardboard prototypes (and test in space);
- do a 1:10 model
- consider buliding a 1:1 model (or part-of).
Step 3: Further Refinement
Make final decisions about the shoe rack design, including shape and measurements:
- Finalise shape and draw out measurements.
- Consider different wood options; think about workability, colours, textures and finishes.
Step 4: Source Wood
Source wood for the project* from a Timber supplier:
- *See 'Supplies' for the wood required for this project - adjust amounts, measurements and types of wood, based on your design.
- Select wood pieces based on their quality, including colour, wood grain, straightness, and consistency (lack of chips/damage).
Step 5: Smooth, Flatten and Cut Boards
Prepare the wood for the Rectangular Box (including dividers):
- Smooth one flat surface into each piece of wood with a Surface Planer (Jointer).
- Reduce the thickness of the rough wood and smooth wood using a Thickness Planer. Use the flat surface that you created in each piece as a reference surface while passing it through the thicknesser. The final thickness of each piece of wood should be 15mm.
Cut wood to size on the Table Saw to be able to make 200mm wide panels:
- For this project, the initial wood pieces were 150mm wide, so I cut 50mm wide pieces that I used to glue together in the next step to make 200mm wide pieces.
- This is done using Rip cuts, which are square, straight cuts made in the direction of the wood grain, usually using a Table Saw. Make sure this is done with an experienced woodworker so that the cuts are done safety and accurately.
- The final wood pieces should be rectanguar pieces of wood that are 'square' (have 90 degree angles).
Step 6: Biscuit Joinery (inc. Gluing)
Put the 4 'panels' together to make up the main rectangular frame (front, back, sides, bottom), as well as the internal dividers and 'shelves':
- Lay the pieces out and work out which sides will need to be glued together to make the 200mm wide panels.
- Mark out with a light pencil where the slots are going to be cut (approximately 250mm apart).
- Adjust the biscuit joiner for #20 biscuits, and the slot height to the center of the wood (7.5mm from the base for the 15mm thick wood) by adjusting the fence up and down.
- Stabilise the wood piece by clamping it to the woodworking table.
- Cut the slots using the biscuit joiner, keeping it as horizonal as possible.
- Do a 'dry run' (test that the pieces fit together, the biscuit joints are working, without any glue). Make adjustments to the biscuit joints as needed, for example, cleaning out the slots of excess wood, if the wood pieces are not fitting together easily. This is an important step and should not be skipped - it is easier to fix problems at this stage!
- Add a small amount of glue in each hole and a small amount all the way around the edges (top and bottom of holes).
- Add in the biscuits into each hole.
- Stick the pieces together, clamp together (approximately 12 clamps per piece), making sure the wood is as square as possible.
Step 7: Cutting - for Rectangular Outer Box
Once the wood pieces from Step 7 are dry, its time to cut the wood pieces to the precise size needed for the rectangular outer box:
- Bottom: 1 x 2310mm x 200mm x 15mm (Length x Width x Thickness)
- (Long) Sides: 2 x 2,280mm x 185mm x15mm (Length x Width x Thickness)
For each piece:
- Set up the Table Saw to be able to cut the wood to the correct width ('ripping wood'). Make sure this is done with an experienced woodworker so that the cuts are done safety and accurately.
- Use the Table Saw to cut the end off the pieces so they are square.
- Mark out the length needed with a pencil.
- Line up the Table Saw to cut each piece to the correct length, using the pencil mark as a guide.
Step 8: Cutting: Inner Dividers
Using the Table Saw, cut the wood pieces to size to make up the inner divider pieces:
- Cutting plan for the dividers: 8 x 185mm x 170mm x15mm (L x W x T)
- Cutting plan for the (short) sides: 2 x 200 x 185mm x15mm (L x W x T)
Step 9: Rectanguar Box - Test Assemble
Do a test assembly of the rectangular box (long sides, short sides and dividers on the bottom piece), and make sure it all fits together correctly. If there was any errors with cutting - now is the time to make the adjustments on the Table Saw. For example, with this build, one of the long sides was 1mm too long, so I trimmed both long sides again on the Table Saw so that they lined up nicely.
Step 10: Sanding Rectangular Box Pieces
Sand the components of the Rectangular Box:
- Use an electric sander to smooth the surfaces of the rectangular box (and dividers).
- Start with 80 grit sandpaper, then 120 grit, then 180 grit - with the aim of reducing the machine marks but keeping as much of the thickness (15mm) of the wood as possible (be careful not to over sand).
- Check the surface with your hand, making sure all areas are smooth, correct as needed.
Step 11: Assemble Rectangular Box
Put the rectangular box together:
- Using clamps, hold the long and short sides and base together.
- Using a nail gun and a small amount wood glue, attach the sides together.
- Turn the rectangular box upside down, then attach the base with a small amount of glue and nails approximately every 150mm along the edges.
- Double check that all nails have gone in correctly (if any have come out the side of the wood - remove very carefully, avoiding tearing the wood). I had one nail that had to be removed (see photo).
Step 12: Assemble Dividers
Now it's time to assemble the dividers and fix them in place:
- This shoe rack has 9 sections to put shoes into - the 2 sections at the end are to be 240mm wide, the remaining 7 sections are to be 235mm.
- Cut some spacers out of plywood using the Table Saw to use as a reference when assembling the dividers.
- Cutting guide:
- 2 pieces x 240mm x 200mm x 3mm*
- 2 pieces x 235mm x200mm x 3mm* (*the thickness of the spacer can vary)
- Using the spacers, and a T-square make pencil marks where the nails need to go (for each divider, I used 4 nails - 2 on the long sides and 2 on the base).
- Using the nail gun, attach the dividers at the marked points (double check that each divider is sitting square - use the spacers to assist).
Step 13: Cutting: Angled Pieces (shoe Holders)
The next step is to make up the nine angled pieces that the pairs of shoes will sit on:
- Source suitable sized plywood (in European Beech or similar)) to be able to cut these piece to size using a Table Saw;
- 9 pieces at approximately 205mm H x 234mm (to 238mm) W x 5mm T*
- 9 pieces at 94mm H x 230mm W x 5mm T (these will sit hidden at the base behind the angled pieces).
- *These measurements depend on how even your gaps between the dividers are - my gaps ended up being slight different in some of the compartments - so I had to shave a bit of the width off some of my pieces of plywood.
- Inside each of the 9 compartments, with a pencil, lightly mark out 70mm from the back on both the left and right sides - this is where the bottom of the angled piece will sit.
- Do a dry run with the angled pieces - place the smaller pieces into the base of each of the 9 compartments, at the front. Place the larger pieces on an angle so that the top of each piece touches the front of the shoe stand (see photo).
Step 14: Assemble Angled Pieces
Now it's time to glue the angled pieces into each of the 9 compartments, using the smaller pieces as a way to hold them into place:
- Do 1 compartment at a time.
- Glue the smaller piece onto the base at the front (wipe away any excess glue).
- Add glue to the bottom and the top edges of the larger pieces and glue on an angle (wipe away any excess glue).
- Use a Spring Clamp to hold the angled piece into its correct position while drying.
- Repeat for all 9 compartments.
Step 15: Curved Ends - Prepare Wood
Source and Prepare the European Beech wood that will make up most of the curved ends of the shoe rack:
- Source a rough piece of European Beach (in good condition) - approx. 1 x 1000mm x 200mm x 20mm (This will make the two curved ends).*
- *in the photo there are two pieces of wood - only 1 piece is required (the piece on the left) - the other piece on the right is someone else's woodworking project.
- Smooth one flat surface of the wooden board with a Surface Planer (Jointer).
- Reduce the thickness of the rough wood, and make it smooth using a Thickness Planer. Use the flat surface that you created in each piece as a reference surface while passing it through the thicknesser. The final thickness of the wooden board should be 15mm (smooth both sides evenly).
- Using the Table Saw, trim the wood to size, so that it has a square edge and is 180mm wide (this leaves space for a 20mm thick piece of curved shape Cherry Wood to be placed at the ends, on top, as decorative end pieces).
Step 16: Curved Ends - Kerf Cutting
Use the process of 'Kerf Cutting' to curve the wood:
- The two curved ends will be made out of this one piece of wood using a process called Kerf Bending*. This is the process of cutting a number of slots into wood to allow it to bend. *This is quite a skilled process, so I relied on an experienced woodworker at Perth Wood School to assist with this part.
- Firstly, test on scrap pieces of wood to determine the best spacing and depth of cut for the grooves (you might need to adjust the saw height a few times to work out the correct position).
- Cut the grooves into the final piece using the pencil marks as reference. We ended up marking out spaces 8mm apart, and a cut depth of 13mm, leaving 2mm thickness at the ends.
- Cut the piece in half and also cut off the ends, so you have two pieces at 450mm long (that will make up the two curved edges).
Step 17: Curved Ends - Glue/Assembly
Glue together the curved ends - using a piece of spare hard wood (ideally Beech wood) to stabilise the ends:
- Cut two pieces of spare hard wood that will stabilise the curve: 2 x 180mm H x 166 W x 50mm T.
- Use heat and moisture to assist bending the wood (while preventing the wood from cracking). Carefully spray water onto the flat surface of the wood, then using an iron on a low setting with steam, add heat onto the wood for 1 minute, and bend the wood into shape. For more information about this process, Google 'Steam Bending' or 'Bending Wood'.
- Create one curved end at a time.
- Have at least 6 medium woodworking clamps ready.
- Add woodglue to the ends of the inside part of the curve, and the ends of the wooden rectangular blocks.
- Attach the clamps carefully to hold the wood in a curved shape while drying. Double check alignment and adjust as necessary, so that the curved surface and wood block are aligned.
- Leave to dry overnight (follow wood glue drying instructions).
Step 18: Curved Ends - Create Tops
Create the top of the curved ends:
- Start with a piece of rough Cherry Wood* to make the tops for the curved ends (to add a bit of colour variation and interest in the piece - the legs will also be made of Cherry Wood).
- Put the Cherry Wood through the Jointer and Thickness Planer (the same process as in Step 5, except the end thickness needs to be 20mm).
- Cut the Cherry Wood on the Table Saw. *The Rough Cherry Wood needs to be approx. 360mm L x 205mm Wx 25mm T (to create 2 pieces).
- Cut the Cherry Wood in half, with a square edge, so you have two pieces (one for each top).
- With a pencil, trace the shape of the 2 curved tops onto the Cherry Wood, using the curved base as a reference.
- Using a Band Saw, cut out the shape of the 2 tops, leaving a few mm's (this will be neated up with a compact router -see Step 20).
Step 19: Curved Ends - Glue on Tops
Glue the two Cherry Wood top pieces onto the curved base piecse:
- Add wood glue to the edges of the underside of the top curved piece.
- Carefully align the straight edge of the curved top piece with the straight edge of the base curved piece.
- Clamp in place - double checking alignment and adjusting as needed.
- Repeat with the other curved end, then leave to dry.
Step 20: Curved Ends - Make Flush
Use a Compact Router to make the curved ends flush (so that the Cherry Wood curved top and the Beech Wood curved base are perfectly aligned):
- Set up a Compact Router. I am still learnig the basics of Routers, and had assistance with setting the router up - I think a Flush-Trim Router Bit was used -1/2 inch diameter flush trimmer with a 1/2 inch shank.
- Make sure the metal bit on the router bit sits on the Beech Wood curved base - use this as a guide to trim the Cherry wood top, until both surfaces are flush.
- If there are burn marks - sand these off with 80 grit sandpaper. (Avoid burn marks as much as possible by keeping the router bit moving).
Step 21: Attach Curved Ends to Rectanglar Box
Attach the curved ends to the rectangular box using wood glue and clamps:
- Add glue to joining faces.
- Adjust the clamps until the curved end is flush with the rectangular box (I had to sand a bit afterwards, as my rectangular box was slightly wider than the curved ends).
- Leave to dry (follow wood glue drying instructions).
Step 22: Make the Legs - Part 1 (Woodturning)
Now it's time to make the eight legs out of Cherry Wood. Start by Woodturning the rough Cherry Wood:
- Cut a piece of Cherry Wood (205mm H x 105mm W x 55mm T), into 2 pieces, lengthways.
- Use the Centre Finder to find the center of the wood pieces, and mark with a pencil.
- Set up one wood piece on the lathe *get assistance with this if you are new to it, as I did - follow safety instructions.
- Use the Turning tool (gouge) to carefully and evenly remove wood along the length of the piece, to create a 50mm cylinder shape (this will be sanded in the next step- so leave a little extra wood to sand off).
- Repeat with the second piece.
Step 23: Make the Legs - Part 2 (sand)
Sand the two wood pieces to create 50mm diameter smooth cyclinders:
- Use a lathe to improve the efficiency of the sanding process. Set the lathe up in a well ventilated area and wear a dusk mask, as a fair amount of sawdust will be created.
- Use a sanding block with sanding paper (80 grit,120 grit, 180 grit, then 240 grit), spin the lathe at slow-med speed, carefully removing excess wood to achieve a smooth and consistent cyclinder that is 50mm diameter.
- Repeat for the 2nd cylinder.
Step 24: Make the Legs - Part 3 (Cut to Size)
Cut the 2 wood cylinders, so that you end up with 8 correctly sized legs:
- Set up the Table Saw and cut the cylinders - this requires skill and experience *get assistance if you are new to cutting cylinders* - David from Perth Wood School did the cutting for this part!
- Cut the cylinders so that you end up with 8 x 50mm tall, 50mm diamter legs.
Step 25: Make the Legs - Part 4 (Prepare for Attachment)
Prepare the pilot holes in the 8 legs:
- Start by marking out the centre of the base of the 8 legs with a pencil (using a Centre Finder).
- Use a hammer and Centre Punch Tool to mark out the centre point on the base of the legs.
- Use a Drill Press to drill all the way through the centre of the legs. Safely hold the legs in place when doing this.
- Drill in the Countersink Hole in all 8 legs at the base.
Step 26: Make the Legs - Part 5 (Shape Bottom)
This step is to create a subtle rounded corner on the base of each leg:
- Rotate drill clockwise (slowly) - drill into leg, to just before the end.
- Use the electric sander to sand the bottom edge off the base of the legs. Hold the leg at an angle, in a similar position for each leg to keep the final curved look consistent.
- Repeat for all 8 legs.
Step 27: Attach the Legs
Prepare the Rectangular Box, and attach the 8 legs:
- Mark out with a pencil where the 8 legs will attach to the base of the rectangular box. I put 2 at either end in line with the outer edges of the rectangular box, then the other 2 in line with the 3rd divider in, and the same on the other side (see photos).
- Mark out these 8 points using a Centre Punch Tool to give a reference for drilling.
- Put masking tape around the drill bit so that you will only be drilling a 15mm hole into the rectangular box.
- Drill a 15mm deep hole into the 8 points (on the rectangular box).
- Attach the 8 legs to the rectangular box in their designated spot using the drill and 65mm screws.
Step 28: Evaluate and Check
Well done for getting this far! Evaluate your project now - is everything well put together and aligned? This is the time to do a final sand.
Step 29: Polish Wood
Apply your choice of wood polish according to the products instructions:
- If using hardwax oil, as I did for this project, apply 3 layers (do the bottom face first, let it dry, turn over and do the top, then repeat this 3 times). Use a clean rag to apply the oil, wipe off any excess immediately, to avoid drips occuring.
- Allow adequate drying time before sanding and applying the next coat.
- In between each coat, do a very light sand with 400 grit Wet and Dry Sandpaper - add a tiny bit of water to the sandpaper, dab onto a rag to get rid of excess water, then sand. Wipe off any sawdust with a clean rag.
Step 30: Test, Use and Enjoy :)
Congratulations! You now have a beautiful and functional shoe rack!
- Add floor protectors if required - I used 8 x 38mm floor protector pads - round.
- Put in postion and load up your shoes! Enjoy!
Finalist in the
Anything Goes Contest