I recently completed this easy project and thought I would share the steps I took to make it.
I’ve had a handful of railroad spikes for a while, and finally decided I should use them to make a coat rack. I started by removing the rust from the spikes. I soaked them in plain white vinegar overnight. After pulling them out and giving a light scrub with a wire brush, they looked like this.
There were still bits of rust on them, so after another nights soak, I scrubbed again and rinsed with water. Here they are with all the rust removed.
The vinegar leaves a dull yellowish hue to the metal, and there was a bit of flash rusting as well, so I did a final shine under a wire wheel on the grinder and gave a light coating of WD-40. Here’s a before and after of a spike as found and one after I cleaned it up.
It took a while, since I don’t quite live near the ocean, but finally I found a piece of driftwood that would be great to use for the project.
I pondered whether or not to put any kind of finish on the wood. After testing a spot on the back, I decided to just leave it natural. I drilled holes where I wanted the spike to go, and squared up the holes with a chisel, making sure to stay parallel to the top edge of the driftwood.
Next, I jointed the back side so that it would lay flush against the wall, as well as to reduce the thickness of the piece by 3/4 inch or so. I didn’t want to have to drill through the driftwood to hang it on the wall, so I chiseled out a cavity to put the french cleat hardware in.
I don’t currently own a router or router plane, so I made a “poor man’s router plane” following a method I saw on a Paul Sellers video. Basically just a scrap piece of wood with an angled hole drilled through, and a chisel jammed in the hole. It worked pretty well.
To mount the spikes, I cut them short with a hacksaw, and hammered them into the mortices with a bit of two-part epoxy for some extra insurance.
All in all, it was a really simple, inexpensive project that resulted in an attractive and useful item for my home. The french cleat is incredibly strong, and I’m confident that it will hold as much weight as I can hang on it.
Here it is on the wall…
-- Marc -- Worcester, MA