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Umbrella holder


This is a quick and easy weekend project. Actually you can build this in about an hour, but you will need a few days to allow for finishing.

Here is the situation...

Our mudroom is on the small side, and our family is on the large side. So the mudroom is pretty full with our washer/dryer/sink, as well as umpteen boots and coats. As such, storage space is in VERY tight supply.

The umbrellas have lived behind the door basically forever. And yes, they fall down regularly and get in the way. I've wanted to build or buy some sort of device to restrain them for ages, but have never had the time or the inspiration.

Well the time had come, and inspiration owes a lot to perspiration, so I sat down with sketchup and forced myself to design something that would fit the space and fit the problem.

The space, as you see from the above photo, is the little gap found behind the door. At the hinge there is about 3-1/2" of space between the door and the wall. Further out that narrows to about 3" at the doorstop. That is not a lot of room to work with. A fancy mission style umbrella stand... well that just was out of the question. It had to be skinny, and it had to work with those tall golf umbrellas that we had.

Virtual Prototype #1... (Actually I shouldn't call this #1, as I considered a few other things first before I drew this one, but nevermind that.) There is a hole for each umbrella. My first idea was just a tall block with holes. But then I wondered about dripping, so I put in a gap with a board on the bottom. But I was still concerned about the umbrellas tipping, so I put on a sort of fence.

A little reflection and consultation confirmed that this was way too complicated. Not to mention the fact that I was ignoring the baseboard in this plan.

On to Virtual Prototype #2...

This one is about as simple as you can get. I moved the block up above the baseboard, and dropped all the extra stuff and stripped it down to just a few holes.

It isn't that pretty, but that extra height should help prevent the umbrellas from tipping. Also, just in case they are put away wet, the large gap underneath it ensures that there is nothing that would catch the water and rot or smell.

AND THEN ... Then I went down to the shop and started looking through my scrap pile.

Of course the design kept percolating in my mind, and before you knew it, I had completely (mentally) redesigned things to match the scrap wood that I had on hand. This also seemed a lot simpler to build. After I built it, I came back and updated my sketchup drawing.

What I had, was some leftover 3/4" thick laminated pine that was 11-1/2" long, so just a touch shorter than my original plan. And as I looked at that I realized that gluing up a large solid block (since I didn't have one) would just slow me down, as well as make drilling the holes quite challenging. So it occurred to me that I really only needed to support the umbrellas at the top and the bottom of the stand, so why not leave out most of the middle. Well, I ended up still putting in a bit of a middle. I thought the third board looked nice, and it would help a bit in guiding the umbrellas down through the stand.

Laying out the three pieces and figuring out where to put the holes. The middle piece is skinnier, due to the back, so it is important to measure from the front for the holes.
This is what it's going to look like, just laying it out to see. Hmm, the back is totally hidden in this shot, but it is there. (check the diagram at the end of this article if you want dimensions and etc.)
Drilling one of the holes. The size of the hole is partially dictated by the fact that I happened to have a 1-5/8" drill bit.
Gluing and clamping the back to the top and bottom.

Note that all the pieces were sanded before assembly. It makes like much easier to do it in that order.

Gluing and clamping the middle piece into place. Honestly, I'm not sure the middle piece is needed, but I liked the look of it, and it certainly could not hurt.

First I applied 2 coats of de-waxed shellac sealcoat. This gives a bit of warm amber colour to the pale pine. This was followed by two coats of clear water-based Flecto Varathane. In a mudroom with damp conditions, a film finish is the way to go.

After the finish had dried overnight, it was a simple matter to install the rack. Oh, one thing I should have mentioned is that before I started actually building the rack I did use a stud-finder to make sure that there was a stud that would fall somewhere within the central half (measured from side to side) of the umbrella rack. Of course, umbrellas are not that heavy, so it probably would have been okay to fasten this to drywall anchors. However, I much prefer being able to screw into a stud for mounting things like this.

Here are several shots of it installed in our mudroom:

As you can see, it fits nicely behind the door, it does not block the door at all (you can see that in the last shot where the door is completely open and resting against the door stop.) and most important of all, it holds all three umbrellas solidly and with no tipping or leaning.

I should have done this years ago!

And just in case you should want to build one of these yourself, here is an exploded diagram that I believe contains all the pertinent dimensions.

This was a quick and simple fun afternoon project. Writing and documenting it took far longer than the actual build. I do love big projects, but there is also something immensely satisfying about a small project that you can dream up and build in one day.


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