Shabby Chic Key Rack

I am not an expert wood worker by anyone’s definition, but if I can do it myself using a hand saw and hand-drilling tool, I’m in business. Sometimes I take on larger projects, enlisting the help from my dad who will use his table saw and high-powered drill for heftier drills. When I saw some similar simple key racks in a high-end catalog, I immediately knew that this was a simple wood-working project I could tackle all by myself.

To create this project, you will need some wood slats and wood strips. I found these at my local craft store. The wood slats were precut and measure approximately 3½”x6”. If you need a longer key rack since you have a lot of sets of keys to hang, I would suggest purchasing a 3½”x¼”x 24″- long strip and hand cut it down to the desired length. The strips I used are really ½” square dowels that I cut to measure 6”. I also used a ½”x¼”x6” strip of wood to attach the hanger to the back of the rack (more on that later).

As mentioned, use a hand-cutting saw and a surface such as a wood plaque to cut the pieces down to the sizes listed above. You will need to sand all cut pieces thoroughly.

Use strong glue such as Gem-Tac by Beacon Adhesives to adhere the cut square dowel piece to the bottom of the plaque as shown.

For the back, adhere the ½” strip to the back top part as shown. This will add thickness to the do-it-yourself key rack that will allow you to insert a screw.

Once the glue has set, paint the front of the assembled wood pieces black. I used Lamp Black by DecoArt’s Americana Acrylics line.

 For the cute little birds, I used Sizzix’s Caged Bird Die (think it is still my favorite) and the Bigshot to die cut birds from fabric scraps.

I didn’t use the cage part of the die, only the bird and wing. To make the birds fit nicely on the key rack, I trimmed the tail and the legs and branches off.

To add a scrappy mixed-media look to your birds, use a sewing machine and thread to sew free-form lines around the birds and wings.

By now, your painted black wood pieces should be dry. Use a candle and rub the surface randomly. Paint the entire key rack white. I used Snow White by DecoArt’s Americana Acrylics line. You will need about two coats.

 Once the final coat is dry to the touch, sand the surface. Areas where the wax was applied will easily chip away to reveal an aged surface.

I decided to découpage the sewn fabric birds to the rack in lieu of adhering them since I wanted a nice flat surface. Either way will work, you can use fabric or tacky glue or whatever else you have in hand. I also dolled up my birds with a little bling in the form of self-adhesive rhinestones. You can also use the flat-backed variety and adhere them on yourself.

Of course, your little do-it-yourself key rack will need a fun sentiment. I added mine to the bottom, under the square dowel piece.

I like to recycle and love to use pop top cans as hangers for my wall creations. For this, I simply used a hand drill to drill a small hole and attached the pop top with a large-head but short screw.

The hand drill was also used for making holes for the key hooks also known as “cup hooks.” I purchased silver ones from a hardware store that are 7/8” long. They were perfect!

I love making these do-it-yourself key racks, because it is a terrific way to use up your favorite fabric scraps. It’s also simple and relatively very inexpensive to make these and they can be used to hang reading glasses, scissors, or anything else you seem to constantly misplace.

Live Life Creatively,

Melony Bradley (

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