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Building an oak shoe rack - what finish to use?

Posted by pam29011 (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 21, 11 at 6:57

I'm taking my first baby step into woodworking by trying to build a version of the shoe rack shown in the link. I've bought the oak boards & have a Bosch palm router on it's way to me (with some bits) as a belated birthday present.

So here's the question - what finish should I use on it?

I'd prefer a finish that will let me clean/touch-up as it gets worn or scratched. I'm not a fan of polyurethane when it looks really plasticy, and would rather see a soft luster on the wood. I don't plan to stain it, just finish it. I know it's fallen out of favor but I still really like oak.

BTW - if anyone wonders why I'm making a shoe rack for $XXX when I could have bought one from Target or Ikea for $Y ... we have a really small space to put a shoe rack in and this will fit well. I'm building it with sides to hold the boards in place & was thinking about using dowels instead of the angle brackets to hold them in place. The space I have is narrow, so I'll be building a version with shelves about 18" wide (enough to hold 2 pairs of my shoes or 1 of DH's).

Thanks in advance for the help!

Here is a link that might be useful: Shoe Rack Inspiration

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Building an oak shoe rack - what finish to use?

Non poly varnish will be easy to recoat.

You are thinking about dowels to mount the shelves? Better off making a box with a back and sides--open part for the shoes-----and use 3" screws through the back into studs to mount.

RE: Building an oak shoe rack - what finish to use?

Thanks, I will get varnish (not poly).

When you say to make a box - do you mean one box per row of shoes?

I bought angle brackets but I was worried they would show & look unattractive when we don't have the thing full of shoes. Although ... in reality I can't imagine when we wouldn't have lots of shoes there so maybe I should go with the brackets after all. It would be easier to use the brackets to hold the shelf parts to the side supports. I bought 1/2" thick boards for the shelves and 1" thick for the side supports.

Unfortunately I can't use big screws into the wall like the inspiration did, mine will back up to a kitchen cabinet (but be adjacent to a wall, I figured I'd screw one side to the wall since I can't screw the back of it into the side of the cabinet).

RE: Building an oak shoe rack - what finish to use?

In case you are having a hard time determining what "non-poly varnish" is when you are standing in the paint store/department, in no particular order:

- Pratt & Lambert #38
- Waterlox Original
- Cabot 8000 series (the last digit signifies gloss level, 8000, 8001, 8002, etc.) Used to be "McCloskey's Heirloom"
= Sherwin-Williams Fast Dry Varnish (not poly)
- Behlen Rock Hard

You will generally have to think outside the big box chain store to find these.

You can get S-W at their neighborhood stores, though you might need to ask for it or order it. The last time I wanted some Cabot, I found one can at my local Do-It-Best hardware store. I could have also gotten it via their free ship-to-store from the chain web site. Woodworking specialty or pro-level paint stores might carry some of the others.

RE: Building an oak shoe rack - what finish to use?

Thanks for the tip on what to look for! I was at a big-box store over the weekend & figured out that is NOT the place to get good info on tools or supplies.

The (very nice) young man in the paint section was trying hard to steer me to polyurethane, even after I said, "I don't want to use poly because I'll need to retouch the finish every year or so, and can't do that with poly." He just kept telling me to go with a high gloss poly so it will be easier to clean ...

The (very condescending) man in the tool area told me the Bosch router bit I was holding wasn't carbide tipped (it was) and tried to steer me toward Skill ... even though I'd already said, "I don't want to buy Skill b/c they're made in China." His answer was, "Everything is made in China, the Skill bits are cheaper and you can get this set with 15 bits in it." Sigh.

There's a Rockler store about 20 min from me, I will probably check out their finish department to find one of the options you've suggested. I already ordered a couple router bits online, I should get to play this weekend on some scrap wood :)


RE: Building an oak shoe rack - what finish to use?

When something---like cabinets are mounted on a wall, screws are used. The screws are driven through the object(mounting strip for cabinets) into the studs behind the sheetrock.

If there are no studs(or the walls are lath and plaster) moly(often called butterfly bolts) bolts will have to be used. The trouble moly bolts have is they are supported only by the wall material and can pull out under weight/pressure---causing a hole in the wall.

Wall studs are usually 16 inches apart and can be found with a stud finder(which can be frustrating to use).

RE: Building an oak shoe rack - what finish to use?

>I was at a big-box store over the weekend & figured out that is NOT the place to get good info on tools or supplies.


While there are a few exceptions (and I know their names and faces locally), usually I cringe when someone starts out with, "The guy at the [big box store] said,..."

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