Imagine a functional piece of furniture: not only is it beautiful, but it magically expands like a sunflower blossoming, or a kaleidoscope unfolding…
Here it is – a Star Shaped Clothes Drying Rack.
It folds into a tiny footprint for easy storage. It expands to 4.5 feet tall and wide with more usable space than any drying racks we have seen.
The best part? This gorgeous clothes rack takes only $18 to make with two easily accessible materials: plywood and dowels, and very simple tools.
There will be a free plan for you to download at the end!
Watch this drying rack in action here-
You might know how much I love geometry from this project inspired by the sacred geometry of Notre Dame rose windows: an old glass tabletop turned into a stained glass mosaic wall light.
Here are my sources of inspirations for this drying rack. Amish people have designed a similar clothes horse you can purchase for $150 at Lehmans. UK designer Aaron Dunkerton created the star shaped clothes horse which is in the process of production. I will add a link here once it is for sale. ( Sources 1 | 2 ) I modified the designs a bit to eliminate some dowels that are closely overlapping.
Materials and tools: ( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
- 4′ x 2′ sheet of 1/4 inch thick PureBond Birch Plywood
- (13) 3/8” diameter pine wood dowels at 48″ long, also from Homedepot, less than $1 each
- Because wood expands when wet, it’s a good idea to paint or seal the piece with non-toxic exterior grade paints or sealers such as this wonderful EcoSafe Wood Sealer, which lasts a very long time with one application.
- Circular saw or jig saw , drilland 3/8” drill bit, optional: miter saw. ( Disclosure: I received the above tools as a gift from the awesome people at Ryobi tools. Thank you Ryobi! )
Before we start, let us bust the myth that all the DIY projects you see here and on the web turned out perfect on the first try. NO, they did not.
Friday, research trip to Homedepot:
“Is this project even feasible? It’s probably going to just fail completely…” 30 minutes of wandering later, “Yes, I think I can make them with 3/8” dowels and 1x2s!”
Saturday morning, dragging hubby with me to Homedepot:
“I figured out all the materials! Need your help, those 1x2s are 8 feet long!”
AFTER cutting 48 pieces of 1x2s, I realized how bulky and HEAVY they would be. “Abandon it? Continue?”
Saturday afternoon, back to Homedepot after realizing I forgot to get one extra dowel:
Another 10 minute of wandering, light bulb came on: “Plywood! Why did I not think of PLYWOOD!” Sheepishly: “Honey, would you might helping me cut 48 strips of plywood? We still got Sunday tomorrow…” Wink wink. Did I tell you hubby is amazing?!?
So here we are. I still have a pile of 1x2s to figure out a project for. Out of these trials and errors, our drying rack is born. It is light weight, sturdy, and simple enough to cut with tools that most people have.
Cut plywood into (48) strips of 16” long by 1” wide. Table saw is best for this, but you can cut these nicely with the help of a saw guide attached to a circular saw or jig saw.
Mark center of three 3/8” holes on each plywood strip as shown in the dimensions below. It is VERY important to be as accurate as possible in this step.
The more accurate you are, the more smoothly the whole structure expands and folds when everything comes together.
Since we do not have a drill press YET, we clamped a few pieces together to reduce the amount of marking and drilling. A drill guide can help the drill stay vertical through the holes.
The dowels will fit tightly into the holes. This will hold the plywood strips in place, while allowing them to rotate easily.
Cut (12) 3/8” x 48” long dowels in half into 24” long pieces. Cut (1) 3/8” x 48” long dowel into (12) 1.5” sections.
Sand all the cut pieces. Now we are ready to assemble!
Assemble (2) plywood strips with (1) 1.5” long dowel through the middle holes.
This will be our basic Module A. You will end up with (24) Module As.
Take (2) modules, mirror them as shown in diagram: yellow strips inside, pink strips outside. IMPORTANT: rotate the outside strip so the longer section between the middle and end holes are all pointing the same direction.
Connect the inside strips with (2) 12” long dowels, through corresponding holes.
Make (12) of these. We will name them Module B.
Start with one Module B, add the next one by snapping the (pink) outer strips onto the dowels connecting the inner strips, always keeping the longer section between the middle and end holes pointing the same direction.
When you reach the last one, it is time to test your star-shaped clothes drying rack.
It is truly a magical moment when the 12-pointed star takes its shape. Snap the last outer strips onto the corresponding dowels to hold the star in place. Pop them off to collapse the structure.
Now we have a drying rack that will make clothes drying so much fun!
It measures 4’6” tall and wide. In the photo below, my husband’s shirt size is men’s extra-large, and mine is women’s small – just to help you get a sense of how much the drying rack can hold, which is quite a lot.
Are you ready to build one? Go for it, it is so worth the effort!
I made a set of free plans with 7 important tips, variations and improvements for you, which you can download below:
If you take the time to be as accurate as possible in each little step, you will amaze yourself with what you can build with just a few simple tools and materials!
Love geometry? This pendant lamp also expands magically, and you can make one from paper grocery bags!
A couple of useful and beautiful things to build for the home – Pallet wood crates with a super easy image transfer method