Saturday, November 17, 2012

After Hurricane Sandy: Valve Handle Coat Rack

Sometime, events going on around us subconsciously effect where we go creatively.  The first chance I had to get back into the workshop happened to be the week Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast.

I think that's part of why I couldn't bring myself to blog for a couple of weeks.  Although I didn't personally know anyone affected by the storm, my heart still goes out to all the people who have been.  It didn't seem right to be so comfortable when others were, and still are, struggling just to get through each day.

I found that during my self-imposed blogosphere silence, I really took time to reflect.  I was keenly aware of everything I could do without power.  We've grown so used to convenient, quick, and easy but there is something to be said about the satisfaction of using hand tools.  It forces you to slow down.  I discovered I enjoyed the quietness, the pace and sense of accomplishment.

While the hurricane was on my mind, I also realize that one of the main focuses of the workshop remodel had to do with controlling water.  It makes so much sense to me now, as I was re-organizing my workshop, that I was drawn to my collection of shut off valve handles.  And that's how the inspiration began....

I've had this one green and white fence board for who knows how long.  I just love, love, love, old chipped paint!  It's a sickness, really.  I hoard it until just the right project comes along.  When the fence board was about four feet long, I had attached shelf brackets to the bottom for feet and vintage towel racks (you know the ones that have about four swinging arms) on each side of the top and it served as a craft show display rack for my sister's knitted scarves.

I cut off the ends that had the holes from it's former life and ended up with about a 36" plaque.  I had already sanded and waxed the board so this was going to be a  pretty quick project.

Before working on the front of the coat rack, I mounted two keyhole hangers on the back side.  Keyhole hangers can be found in the same area of the hardware store that you would find "D" rings. I like the keyhole hanger for this project because it will keep the plaque flat against the wall and sturdy.

 I sorted through my collection of valve handles and found five (I like odd numbers) that were similar in size.  The two larger ones had square holes so I was going to need a washer.

I remembered that I had a stash of long dark screws and rubber washers that I used to use to install iron drapery hardware back in my decorating days.

The long screws would be great because they would allow some distance between the board and the handle.

A rubber washer on each side keep the handle in place at the end but I don't really want to have the screw be my post.

My plan for this rack is actually to use as a display piece for aprons at Pomar Junction Vineyard and Winery where I help with the retail merchandising.  A little offset will give me room for a couple of aprons on each handle.

Since I'm working with a "water" theme, I decided copper pipe was the perfect solution.  As I was cleaning out my husband's "pipe crib" during the remodel, I had come across several lengths of copper pipe that he liked to keep around for repairs.  I asked if he would mind if I raided his stash every now and then for a project.  Who knew it would be so soon.

Cutting copper pipe is very easy with this manually operated pipe cutting tool.  Simply place the pipe in the tool and tighten by turning the knob at the end of the tool; right-y tight-y, left-y loose-y.

The top of the tool has a roller and the blade sits tight on the opposite side of the pipe.  Just roll the tool around the pipe; and as you can see, there is a score mark.  When it gets easy to turn, tighten the knob at the bottom and continue rolling and turning until the piece breaks free.

I cut the copper pipe to a length that would still leave enough screw length to go all the way through the thickness of the wood without popping out the back.

If you plan to hang a lot of weight on this rack, it's probably a better idea to drill a nut-size recessed hole from the back and use a nut and bolt rather than a screw.  However, this finished rack feels pretty strong.

In the spirit of not using power tools for this project, I mark the placement of the handles with an awl.  This gives me plenty of pilot hole since I'm using a screw and want it to be as tight as possible.

For this project, even if I wanted to use power tools, hand tightening is better.

A perfect fit, and I love the look!

As tempted as I was to keep this rack for myself to hold my workshop aprons.....

It looks perfect in Pomar Junction's old farmhouse tasting room.


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