Ted’s essays

bargain basement boot rack

We have muck boots for ourselves, family, friends and guests – anyone who happens by to work or play in our chicken yard, creek, snow or mud. Mostly the collection has been standing in the alley between our house and garage.

One such friend recently discovered a mouse nest in one of the boots we were loaning out. Turns out more than one boot was thusly violated. Fortunately this particular guest is an earthy guy who was not put off by this violation, but the ICK-factor was something we could not tolerate.

My wife sent me links to several boot rack models she wanted so the boots would be unwelcome to mice, keep them dry, visible and ready for use. None of the available ones we saw were any good. Many reviews complained about flimsy and/or fragile construction. Some racks appeared like their pointy tops would make undesirable impressions on the boot inner-soles.

Sigh. If you want it done right, do it yourself.

First off we reviewed our boot collection to decide what the real need was. Six pairs of rarely used boots had to reside in the alley. After considering various materials and construction techniques, I came up with this PVC pipe in wood model.

The Tees at the top are to spread the weight out avoiding pressure points yet allowing air circulation to dry wet boots. The pipes were cut into two different lengths for tall and shorter boots. The Tees fit snugly without needing any PVC cement as the only pressure they would experience is very light and downward. By happy coincidence, I had exactly twelve 3/4-inch Tees in my inventory along with more than enough 3/4-inch PVC pipe and PLENTY of scrap lumber.

In contemplating cutting twelve holes to hold the pipes, the choices in my tool chest were too small by a little, too big by a little or too big by a lot. Other tool chests might have a just right. I used a Forstner bit that was slightly undersized to remove most of the wood so that the hole saw I had that was slightly larger than the pipe diameter would not require me to pry chunks of wood out after each hole… times a dozen.

If you find yourself prying wooden donut holes out of hole saw blades more often than you like, a set of Forstner bits is a wonderful addition to your woodshop. As a bonus, the resultant holes are a whole lot cleaner and more precise.

After cutting and recutting the holes I was left with my upright pipe pieces being more floppy than I could be satisfied with. Screws … wedges … putty … what kinds of filler would firm these floppy fellows up enough to hold boots?

Duct Tape fixes everything.

With just a little experimenting I found that six revolutions of duct tape made a firm fit that I could just twist into the holes and tap with a rubber mallet to firmly seat them.

Plumbers will figure out that another twelve Tees, four elbows and more pipe could be cemented together to make the whole darn thing out of PVC, but that design would have forced me to GO to the hardware store and SPEND money instead of using my existing inventory and scraps. Moreover, this way the PVC components are available to be repurposed as plumbing fittings or other use if the mood strikes us.

Another satisfied customer … Okay, repeat customer satisfied once again.