I live on a farm, and except for hours of sleep and dollars earned, “things” seem to increase with farm life— chores, pets, tools, vehicles, and keys, to name a few. So, when our overloaded key rack fell from the wall, we decided to make another key plaque. It might be a good project for family time over the holidays.
Key racks are easy to make and don’t require elegant routing and high-dollar wood. Our original rack (shown also) was a family project made decades ago entirely without power tools. Dad shaped, sanded, stained, and varnished the plaque. Mom carefully detailed the edge of the soft pine with a linoleum gouge, tapped in brass brads to attach a piece of copper sheeting, and punched nails holes to make a design. Our young son helped with everything. Today, the imperfections are viewed as character rather than errors!
We could not find thin sheets of copper or brass to match the original, so we opted for a simpler design. The new model was built with power tools and materials already on hand–even the brass horse-head hook has been in the family for years. We did buy a box of hangers.
- Wood plank (approximately 1 by 12 by 5 inches)
- Stain and varnish
- Hangers and brass brads
- Large decorative hook
- Table saw
- Power drill/bit
- Paint brush and clean rag
1. Start with a one-by-six and cut a long rectangle with the table saw using the fence/guide to ensure a straight cut. Our plank has the wood grain running lengthwise on a 12 by 5 inch rectangle. A leftover from an earlier project, our plank was a stained and varnished one-by-eight getting scuffed in the scrap pile. We cut it down to make fresh, crisp edges.
2. Set the table saw blade to a 45-degree angle and bevel the four upper edges. If you prefer a fancier edge detail, use a router and bit to achieve the desired profile.
3. Sand the edges with a sanding block and the face with an orbital/finishing sander. We buffed the stained and varnished face of our plank lightly to remove the scuffs.
4. Stain and varnish the wood to the color and gloss level desired, allowing drying time per manufacturer’s directions. Our garage yielded a near-empty can of matching stain for our key rack. We varnished with polyurethane satin finish.
5. Mark positions for key hooks. Using a very small drill bit on a power driver, make pilot holes for hooks and nails on the key rack’s front, and for a picture hanger on its back.
6. Nail the picture hanger on the back first, while protecting the face of the plaque with a soft cloth. Turn the plaque over. Insert and hand-tighten the smaller brass hooks aligned upward to hold the keys. Center the large brass horse-head hook with brass brads.
7. Mount the finished key rack on the wall.