Make Your Own Art Drying Rack

Is your studio covered in prints and artworks laid out to dry? This post explains how I made my own art drying rack to regain the floor space and work surfaces for other things.

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Print or Art Drying Rack made from wood and dowel rods suitable for an art or printmaking studio
The finished Print Drying Rack

I would never have thought when I set up my website that I would end up writing a DIY home project article – but never say never…

How I Ended up Making an Art Drying Rack

I am a printmaker which means after each print run I end up with lots of paper covered in ink that needs to dry. I have been using newsprint spread all over my studio floor and have been laying prints on top of it. This has made walking across my studio rather hazardous. and stopped me working on any projects that needed more than a foot step worth of room around my work table. Pulling my chair out without disturbing prints drying was becoming quite a skill.

Drying Racks Online

There are a some amazing art drying rack options available to buy online, but many do not ship to New Zealand, and for others the shipping costs were higher than cost of the product itself. If you live in North America or Europe these options might be more affordable. I’m posting them below as I do really like some of them. They just weren’t an option for me where I live.

This one looks so practical as it can be set up in several ways.

I like the idea of this being on wheels and could hide under a table when not in use.

This is another great concept, but my door opens against a wall which would mean squashed art!

An affordable option if you only have a few things to dry at a time. You can buy extra shelves for these to make a taller rack.

This rack can fit 50 pieces at once – so great for large editions.

These might be a super affordable solution if you are stacking canvas panels (not so good for paper though!).

How to Build Your Own Wall-Mounted Art Drying Rack

If none of the above options work for you, or you just like to cover your studio floor in wood dust, then read on. Please note that I am not a DIY expert and so my drying rack has it’s own rustic charm that can only come from someone learning as they go. You undertake this project at your own risk, and you may need to make some adjustments to fit the exact materials you choose to use. I made my rack rods 3cm apart as I am only drying paper, but if you are drying boards or canvas panels, you will need to make the gap wider.

Materials and Tools

Some of these things I had around the house already, but everything else I managed to order online during the Corona Virus Lockdown:

  • Electric Drill

  • 7mm Drill Bit for Wood (approx 1/4″)

  • 30 x Wooden Dowels (7mm x 30cm , 1/4″ x 12″) and 4 x dowels (3mm x 30cm)

  • Hammer

  • Wood Glue

  • Sandpaper Block

  • Drawstring Cord for Hanging

  • Two Strips of Wood (mine were 48cm x 4cm x 1cm)

Other Things You Might Need:

  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Block/Bench to drill on
  • Drop cloth

Step By Step Instructions

Print or Art Drying Rack made from wood and dowel rods suitable for an art or printmaking studio - Step 1 Measure and Mark the wood.

1. Measure and Mark

Measure 3cm intervals down the centre of each of your two strips of wood (The holes you can see were already there so I worked around them).

Print or Art Drying Rack made from wood and dowel rods suitable for an art or printmaking studio - Step 2 Drill holes

2. Drill

Drill holes approximately 7mm diameter at each of the marks right through the wood strips (the diameter of hole should match the size of dowel your are using).

Print or Art Drying Rack made from wood and dowel rods suitable for an art or printmaking studio - Step 3 Sand

3. Sand

Sand any rough edges, particularly around the edges of the holes you have just drilled.

Print or Art Drying Rack made from wood and dowel rods suitable for an art or printmaking studio - Step 4 - Glue Rods

4. Glue Rods

Put a dab of wood glue on the end of each rod and use the hammer to gently tap them into each hole starting from the second to top hole (leave the top hole on each strip of wood empty for the hanging string).

Print or Art Drying Rack made from wood and dowel rods suitable for an art or printmaking studio - Step 5 Weigh Rods to dry

5. Weigh Rods Until Dry

Once you have done this for both strips of wood, lay them on the edge of a table and weigh them down with something flat and heavy so that your dowel rods dry as straight and flat as possible (mine aren’t perfect but will do the job).

Print or Art Drying Rack made from wood and dowel rods suitable for an art or printmaking studio. Step 6 - Drill for cross frame

6. Drill for Cross Frame

Drill matching holes on sides of strips which will be to insert rods to make a rectangle frame that connects the wood strips together. I used a thinner dowel rod for this (3mm) and so drilled 3mm holes, but a 7mm rod would probably be stronger if this is important to you.

Print or Art Drying Rack made from wood and dowel rods suitable for an art or printmaking studio. Step 7 - Glue the cross Frame

7. Glue the Cross Frame

Decide how far apart you want the two strips of wood to be. You can test this out by resting your standard paper or board between a shelf and moving them until you find the distance that works best (For me it was 14cm). Cut rods slightly longer to allow for ends going in the holes you have drilled (I made mine 15cm). Put some wood glue into the holes before inserting the rods. Measure that the gap is the same top and bottom and leave to dry.

Print or Art Drying Rack made from wood and dowel rods suitable for an art or printmaking studio. Step 7 - add the hanging cord

7. Add Hanging Cord

Thread the drawstring through the top hole on each strip and tie a knot in behind. It is now ready to hang in your studio.

Things I learned along the way

  • The diameter of the hole that you drill should match the size of dowel that you are using or be even a little bigger. In hindsight I think it would be better for the dowels to fit in a little loosely and then be secured with wood glue as I think the dowels would then sit a little straighter when drying. My dowel rods fitted very snugly, but they are not perfectly aligned.
  • To get the holes perfectly aligned you may need a template or carefully pre-drill every hole with a smaller drill bit first.
  • Making a drying rack that hangs on a hook rather than attached to the wall gives you flexibility to put it away when you don’t need it, or move it around your studio, or even take it along to workshops. How great is that?!
  • I hope you found this article useful. If you would like to follow me on my artistic adventures you can find me on Facebook, Instagram or you can subscribe to my newsletter.

21 thoughts on “Make Your Own Art Drying Rack”

    1. You’re right πŸ™‚ It works so well and is super easy to make once you have the materials – I am going to have to make at least one more rack myself as when I am making greeting cards I often exceed this rack’s capacity.

        1. Best wishes Judy – Perhaps you could adapt the idea somehow? I did think about hanging my rack on the back of the door, but realised that if someone opened the door too enthusiastically there would be a disaster!

  1. GENIUS!!!! Here’s a hint. When you drill the holes, place the boards on top of each other and then holes will always align perfectly. I have all the stuff to make one of these and it has gone to the top of the list for tomorrow! Thank you!!!!!

    1. Best wishes with your project Alison – I made a second rack a few months back and used Jen’s tip – worked a treat πŸ™‚

  2. Barbara Backer-Gray

    Wonderful idea! I have an additional thought. If you use a hanger as the thing to hang the contraption from, and you don’t attach the two pieces of wood that have the dowels in them, but instead put a hook in the top of each one, you can hang them from the hanger and make the whole thing wider or narrower depending on your project.

    1. Hi Barbara – That’s a great idea! It would be great to be able to adjust the spacings if you were doing a variety of print sizes. You could also make the cross dowels go all the way through the pieces of wood so that they could then slide in and out. I love that my drying rack has inspired even more creativity. Kind regards, Margaret

  3. Brilliant idea. May I ask your permission to copy your idea. It will be for my young granddaughters who love painting.
    Thank you

    1. Margaret White

      What a great idea! I would love for you to build a draying rack for your granddaughters – It would be a great way to keep their art tidy while it is drying.

    1. Hi Leah, That would be a great idea for racks with large dowel that can hold the weight of a baking tray. For lighter weight dowel just a sheet of stiff card works a treat for holding a piece of paper. Kind regards, Margaret

  4. Hello Margaret, I am silkscreen printing on cotton tote bags (like shopping bags, they are 40 cm wide). The bags are heavy duty so I’m wondering how I should alter this idea so that the rack could hold between 15 and 20 tote bags at a time? Or would you try and build something a little different? I haven’t been able to find anything that has big enough gaps to stack the bags without them touching. Thank you πŸ™‚

    1. Margaret White

      Hi Lorna, great question – and those bags sound like a super exciting project! Yes, you would definitely need to adapt this design, as the fabric bags would weigh a lot more than the paper I am drying on mine. So thicker dowel into thicker pieces of wood would definitely be needed. My other thought would be using some sort of system that hangs the bags vertically (rather than the horizontal racks of this design). A ladder type design hung from the ceiling that you could raise up and down on a pulley (much like one of those old-fashioned clothes drying racks) could be a possibility. Best wishes with your project!

      1. Margaret, thank you so much. I think your suggestion for an old school pulley would work really well. I really appreciate your response. This will be fun!

  5. To ensure accurate alignment you can clamp the two pieces of wood together, and then drill thru both pieces at the same time.

    1. Hi Dianne,
      Yes, that would be the best way if you have some good strong wood clamps. Of course making sure that you are drilling at 90 degrees to the wood – The angle of your drill hole is the angle the dowelling will eventually come out at, so this is a very important step.
      Happy creating!

  6. Great ideas… I might play with a hanging one to keep the cats from adding their own accents on my work. And a mini table top one for smaller projects

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