I Can Do That: Pegged Shoe Rack

In this “I Can Do That” column, we introduce the use of pegs instead of hardware to hold the project together.

This simple shoe rack uses five pieces of 2″ x 2″ x 36″ poplar (which is actually 1 1/2″ square) for the uprights, feet and rails; six 5/8″ x 48″ poplar dowels for the crossbars; and one 3/8″ x 48″ poplar dowel for the pegs.

A good lesson when working with dowels is that not all of them are created equal. Before you start, measure your dowel diameters then select the drill bit to match the smallest one. (Although I bought 5/8″ dowels, three of them were actually closer to 9/16″.)

Drill straight. As you drill through the foot into the bottom of the upright, keep your drill level.

Drill straight. As you drill through the foot into the bottom of the upright, keep your drill level.

First, cut the crossbars to length. I decided on a 36″ span, long enough to hold five pairs of women’s dress shoes. With six dowels to cut to the same length, measure and mark one, then set up a stop-block on the miter-saw fence and cut each to 38″. The additional 2″ is to seat the dowels 1″ at both ends in the uprights.

While at the miter saw, cut your two 12″ feet and two 5″ rails – again, with a stop-block. Then, pencil a line on the right-hand side of your fence at 2 1/2″, and cut 16 2 1/2″ pegs from the 3/8″ dowel (only 12 are needed, but extra is never bad). Holding the dowel in place against the fence on the left side and cutting these short pieces to the right side of the blade keeps your hands safely away from the blade. Once your pegs are cut, slightly taper one end on each a bit to make them easier to drive into place. An old-fashioned pencil sharpener on its largest setting works well for this task.

The uprights are 36″ in length so no cutting is needed on these.

<strong>Final alignment.</strong> The last step is to clamp the rails in place, drill, add glue then seat the pegs.

Final alignment. The last step is to clamp the rails in place, drill, add glue then seat the pegs.

Next, align the two feet and clamp them together to lay out the locations of the four uprights and the dowels to join them. First, measure 2″ from either end and use a combination square to mark a line across both pieces; then measure 1 1/2″ from those marks and strike another line across both pieces. Mark a diagonal line from corner to corner of the resulting squares on each foot. I eyeballed the placement (along the diagonal line) for each of the four 3/8″ pegs that are driven through each foot to seat into the bottom ends of the uprights.

One thought on “I Can Do That: Pegged Shoe Rack

  1. jim childress

    Megan,
    I am an intermediate woodworker, and this looks like a fine project to cut down to fit our bedroom closet. The house is an old (1935 Model Sear’s Mail-order) house built by a carpenter/plumber from The Bud Company in Phila, PA from the plans of a friend at work during WW II. We have made very few changes during our stay in the last 33 years, but this will help me organize our shoe collection.
    Thank you,
    Jim Childress
    1330 Bernard Ave.
    Willow Grove, PA.

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