A Coat Tree

I hadn’t even really begun to unpack my tools when I felt the overwhelming need to make something. We were out shopping for containers to replace all of the rotting cardboard boxes my shop was packed up in when I came across this cheesy plastic coated aluminum coat tree:

I realized at that moment that I wanted a coat tree, but I wanted to make it myself. This one was maybe five feet tall and very wobbly. Still, I liked the style of the hooks (branches) and the fact that the top two sections were able to rotate. The ability to rotate was key because I knew I wanted to put it in a rather tight corner of a room.

I knew I could do much better than this and probably for less money.
Goal 1: I wanted to make it it taller, at least six feet tall.
Goal 2: I wanted more hooks (branches) which could be accomplished by making it taller but I wanted a lot more hooks so the branches would have to start lower on the tree and I would put them on all four sides rather than just two.
Goal 3: Because their would be more branches it would need to be much sturdier with a more stable base.

TBH, I did roughly sketch out some ideas but really, beyond those goals, I didn’t have a plan as to how I was going to make this thing. I kind of just made it up as I went along. There is at least one major change I would make to the build process that I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t think of in the first place but I’ll go into that later.

I decided to go with 3/4″ MDF and some 1/2″ metal rod for the trunk of the tree. MDF is heavy and is relatively easy to route out. After some rough calculations I realized I could get all three section out from a single 2’x4′ sheet of the stuff. I cut it into 2-1/4″ strips then laminated the three sections together.

This is where putting a little more thought into planning this build would have helped. I really should have laminated these section around the steel rod, rather than trying to drill holes for the rods.

It turned out that no matter how well I set up my drill press I was unable to drill the shafts for the rods straight enough to keep the section perfectly aligned.

Next I created some patterns for the branches/coat hooks. I wanted three different sizes and at least different two shapes for the two larger sizes. The smallest one, which was for hats would only work with a single hook.

Now on to the base. I was tempted to laminated a bunch of 2″ thick stuff to make a thick base around 12″-14″ in diameter but I didn’t think it fit with the overall design of the project. I also don’t like the round shape for a stand base they topple too easily.
to be honest I’m not sure how I came up with the idea but I decided to make a base with double interlocking dado joints (a total of four joints) that fit snugly around the “trunk” of the coat tree.

I realized this wasn’t enough tho. I was pretty sure these cheap studs would twist and bow if I didn’t reinforce them.

I have been using it for several months now. I am really happy with how it turned out. Being able to rotate the top sections makes it really easy to access all of the hooks while it’s in a tight corner.