How to make a DIY hanging drying rack

Drying racks have a lighter impact on the environment (and your power bills) than a tumble dryer, and a hanging rack could be the answer if you’re short on space. Mounted on a pulley system, it can be lowered to hang your clothes, then raised to take advantage of warm air at ceiling height. If you can’t get hold of 30-40mm wide leather, use 25mm-wide jute or polyester webbing instead, or even recycle some old leather belts!

Bunnings magazine, June 2020

Tools and materials

1.2m length 43mm-diameter Tasmanian oak dowel

180- and 240-grit abrasive paper

25mm Zenith brass double pulley

25mm Zenith brass single pulley

3.2mm, 3.5mm and 6.5mm drill bits

40mm black countersunk timber screws

4mm para cord in Black (we used about 9m)

50mm black countersunk timber screws

600mm pine batten or similar (we used 89mm x 19mm DAR pine)

7mm tarpaulin eyelets

8G countersink bit

Clean cloth

Clear water-based satin-finish varnish

Combination square

Drill with driver bit


Measuring tape and pencil

Philips head screwdriver bit

Quick-grip clamps

Safety equipment

Synthetic narrow paintbrush

Three 2.4m lengths 25mm-diameter Tasmanian oak dowel

Timber adhesive

Two 30mm x 700mm leather strips (available at craft stores)

Two 32mm saddle clips

Two 6mm quick-link triangles

Two 89mm x 7.6mm ceiling hooks

Utility knife

1. Cut the sides and rails

To cut the side pieces, mark halfway along the 43mm dowel, cutting with a handsaw for two equal lengths of 600mm. To cut the rails, mark the 25mm dowel lengths in half and cut with a handsaw to make five 1.2m lengths (the sixth length is a spare). Alternatively, have the dowel cut in store but double-check the lengths are exact. Sand all dowel with 180-grit abrasive paper. Tip: To sand, wrap a piece of sandpaper once around the dowel, hold gently with one hand and push the dowel back and forth through the sandpaper with the other hand.

How to make a DIY hanging drying rack

2. Drill the side pieces

Position one side piece on the 600mm pine batten, securing with two saddle clips and screws. Measure and mark the dowel at 50mm, 125mm, 300mm, 425mm and 550mm. Use a 3.2mm bit to drill 20mm-deep holes at each mark. Repeat with remaining side piece, leaving it secured in the saddle clips. Sand over the holes. Tip: Check the drill is set to ‘drilling’ when using drill bits and ‘driving’ when using a driver for screws – you could have two drills set up to avoid changing the bits and settings.

How to make a DIY hanging drying rack

3. Drill the rails

Clamp a 25mm dowel rail over the work surface edge. Mark 50mm from the end, drill through with a 3.2mm bit. Change to an 8G countersink bit and drill to taper the hole so the screw head sits below the surface. Repeat for remaining rails and sand over the holes.

How to make a DIY hanging drying rack

4. Fit the rails to one side piece

Working on one rail at a time, drive a 50mm screw through the hole so the tip protrudes about 3mm, position the screw into the hole of the side piece and secure. Repeat with the remaining rails.

How to make a DIY hanging drying rack

5. Finish securing the rails

Position the remaining side piece under the rails so they are straight and evenly spaced. Mark each of the rails 50mm from the ends. Hold firmly and drill through each rail and 20mm into the side piece with a 3.2mm bit. Use the countersinking bit to taper the holes, sand smooth, then secure from the top with 50mm screws.

6. Varnish the rack

Use a combination square to mark the centres of the two side piece ends, then use a 3.5mm bit to drill 40mm-deep holes. Wipe the rack with a clean cloth and apply a coat of varnish using a synthetic paintbrush. When dry, lightly sand rails with 240-grit abrasive paper (avoid the screws) then wipe down and apply another coat of varnish. Leave to dry.

How to make a DIY hanging drying rack

7. Fit the leather straps

To attach the straps, mark 21.5mm from the ends and drill through with a 6.5mm bit. Place an eyelet into the hole, position it against the end of a side piece and secure into the pre-drilled hole with a 40mm screw. Repeat with the other ends. Use a utility knife to round the corners, then attach a quick-link triangle on each strap.

How to make a DIY hanging drying rack

8. Thread the cord and hang your rack!

Install ceiling hooks 1100mm apart, then hang the pulleys off these hooks. Thread about 5m of para cord through the double pulley first, then the single pulley and down to the quick-link. Tie off using a hangman’s knot. Thread a second length of para cord about 3.9m through the double pulley only and tie off onto the other quick-link. Tie both ends of cord together and secure to a cleat on the wall. Note: The length of rope used depends on the height of your ceiling and how low you want your rack to hang.

Safety tips: Before drilling into walls or ceiling, use a studfinder to check for wiring and pipework. Turn off the power while working. Secure the ceiling hooks into a stable joist or rafter and leave a minimum clearance of 350mm to raise and lower the rack.

Photography: James Moffatt

How to make a DIY hanging drying rack

Want to do more with your laundry?

Check out our D.I.Y. Advice to organise and style your laundry.

More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
Top of the content