Inexpensive Home-Made Print Drying Rack

One thing a printmaker needs is a safe place to dry prints. Over the years I have cobbled together various methods, most involving string and pegs, but they were always precarious, awkward to use and no good for larger print runs. I didn’t want to pay the money for a professional wire drying rack and, as I want to be able to dry around 60 A3 size prints at time, this would be both cumbersome and expensive.

I have just finished making a print drying rack that I am very happy with for around £100. It is sturdy, easy to use, holds around 120 prints and can be taken down and stored when not being used.

Home-made print drying rack Home-made print drying rack

It’s basically made of 3 pieces of wood supported by lightweight metal joist hangers, which are attached to a modified clothes rail at either end. You could attach the joist hangers and wood directly to your walls, but I already had the ikea clothes rails (from a previous home-made drying rack attempt) and my walls were too far apart!

Here are detailed instructions for making the above, if you are so inclined. Quantities of pegs/length of wood, etc can be adapted to your specific situation (how many prints you need to dry & how much space you have). It is easily modified and adapted.

You will need:

2 x Ikea Rigga clothes rails, 3 x lengths of planed softwood joists 47mm x 75mm cross-section and 4.2m long, 2 x lengths planed softwood 20mm thick x 140mm wide by 1085mm long (i used pine skirting boards), 6 lightweight metal joist hangers (from a builders merchant) to fit the cross section of long wood joists, 4 x M6 x 60mm long roofing bolts and nuts, 40 No8 x 20mm long round head wood screws, 240 round wire nails, 40mm long (the right size to go through the hole in your pegs and with a head bigger than the hole in the peg), 240 pegs (the soft grip ones are best as they don’t leave an indentation on your paper).

equipment for print rack bolts and screws joist hanger pegs

Tools needed:

Saw, Drill, HSS drill bits (4mm & 6mm), Screwdriver, Hammer, Pencil, Set square, long ruler & adjustable spanner, brad (pointed metal spike).

What to do:

Step 1: Make the holes in the Ikea clothes rails – this is to attach the  20x140x1085mm wood using the the M6 bolts. Mark the point where the bolt will go through the uprights of the clothes rail. Use a brad and a hammer to make a dent here. Then use a 4mm HSS drill bit to drill through the upright, so it comes out the other side, making sure to keep it straight! Then re-drill the hole with a 6mm HSS drill bit to accommodate the bolt. Repeat for other side.

Step 2: Mark the position of the bolt hole on the 20x140x1085mm wood by holding it in place and marking it with the brad from the back. Drill through the wood at both ends with 6mm drill bit. Now attach the wood plank to the clothes rail with the M6 bolts and tighten.

wood bolted to clothes rail upright

Step 3: Mark the centre of the wood on the clothes rail and screw one joist hanger onto the wood in the centre. Screw on another joist hanger each side of the centre one. The distance apart will depend on the size of prints you want to hang. Mine were approximately 320mm apart. Repeat for both clothes rails.

joist hangers on wood

Step 4: Place the long lengths of wood in the joist hangers and mark up the position of the pegs along their length.

wood placed in joist hangers

I spaced my pegs 70mm apart and staggered the pegs on each side of the parallels so the prints didn’t fight for space at the centre. Remember that the part of the pegs that will grip the prints must hang down below the wood. Use the set square to keep lines straight.

marking up the position of the pegs

Step 5: Nail in the pegs to the wood through the centre hole. Don’t nail them in too tight – they should be able to swivel round. I took the wood out of the joist hangers and laid it on the floor for this bit.

Step 6: Replace the wood back in the joist hangers and secure the 2 outer lengths through the side of the joist hanger with a screw in each of the 4 corners. This ties it all together and stops the wood coming out of the joist hangers if you ever trip over the clothes rails!

When not in use, remove the lengths of wood from the joist hangers and lay them on the floor along a wall.

home made print drying rack

finished home-made print drying rack