DIY Outdoor Towel Rack with Shelves

Learn how to build this easy DIY outdoor towel rack. It is a quick project with detailed tutorial, plans, and videos. It looks great too!

Redwood towel rack in backyard with colorful towel on it with text overlay

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We have really enjoyed having a pool in the backyard but I don’t quite enjoy the fact that when we are done, the patio furniture is covered with towels and swim clothes.

We can’t wait for it to be warm enough to be able to enjoy the pool, trips to the beach, and the outdoors. Our patio already got a quick makeover to get it all set.

However, it all comes with the dreaded load of a ton of towels and swimsuits… now you see how it is going to be saving my sanity?

DIY freestanding towel rack in backyard next to pool

Update 2021: I built this DIY outdoor towel rack over 3 years ago. It worked well but was too small and things ended up on the patio furniture anyway! So I built a new version which was a little bigger and only one shelf. Video and plans below.

Redwood towel rack in backyard with colorful towel on it.

What kind of wood do you need?

Redwood or cedar are excellent choices for this outdoor drying rack. They are weather-resistant and can withstand the elements. It is especially important to use the right wood and seal it well because you will be placing wet clothes and towels on it. I use redwood for this project and sealed it with waterproofing deck stain.

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***This project is sponsored by Kreg Tools. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make it possible to bring you new projects.***

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How to build the Towel Rack

I have a full step-by-step video showing you exactly how to build this wooden towel rack. Watch it below. The full written tutorial follows as well.

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Step-by-step tutorial

The cuts and dimensions for both the larger and smaller version are detailed in the plans. Below, I am showing you how I built the smaller version.

Step 1 – Make the cuts and pocket holes.

Start by making the cuts per the plans. I used my miter saw to make the cuts but a circular saw works as well.

For the pocket holes, you want to measure the exact thickness of the board. Typically 2×2 boards are 1.5″ x 1.5″. But my redwood boards were 1 3/8″ thick – this is the setting you need on your jig.

In the recent build, I used the Kreg 720 which automatically adjusts the jig height for the board and I used the gauge at the back to set the bit collar.

If you don’t have the Kreg 720 or K4/K5, you can set the jig height at 1 1/2″ and set the drill bit collar slightly below the 1 1/2″ mark. Make some test holes and joints before building.

Related – All about Kreg Jig

Step 2 – Build the racks

Start by building the frames. There are 2 types of frames – with the braces for shelves and without.

Make sure that all the pocket holes are facing downwards as you attach.

Building the frames for the DIY towel rack

Since the boards are only 1 3/8″ thick, I used 2″ pocket hole screws to get the strongest joint. The blue-kote screws are outdoor screws and work well.

How to build a freestanding towel rack with shelves.

Step 3– Build the shelves.

It is easy to make sure the spacings are right by simply using scrap pieces of boards cut to size. Make sure all the pocket holes face the same direction.

building shelves of the freestanding DIY outdoor towel rack

Step 4 – Attach the shelves

Attach the shelves to the long frame with pocket hole screws and wood glue. This is easy to do by laying the frames on the floor and attaching them level with the aprons we added in step 2.

building the outdoor towel rack.

Next, turn the structure on its side and attach the front rack to the shelves.

Step 5 – Complete the rack

Finally, attach the middle racks using pocket hole screws and wood glue to complete the rack.

Step 6 – Finish

Be sure to finish the rack to protect it against the elements and wet clothes. I used a waterproofing deck stain in the color redwood. I love how it brings out the richness of the redwood and ages with time.

I also added a few hooks on the sides to make a spot to hang swim goggles and shorts.

Hooks on t he side of the DIY outdoor towel rack

The racks are perfect for drying out the towels. This can easily be made bigger to accommodate more towels or wider for larger beach towels. (PS: this is exactly what I did in 2021)

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Beach towels on the DIY outdoor towel rack

The shelves on the bottom are perfect to hold clean towels or a basket of swim goggles and sunscreen. 

Shelves in the DIY freestanding outdoor towel rack

Update 2021: With time, I realized that we really didn’t use the two shelves and one was enough. therefore, in the new version, I only built one shelf.

So, who is excited about summer?! I know I sure am! And now I don’t have to worry about where to dry all those towels! 

RELATED: How To Build Pull-Out Drying Rack Drawers

Printable plans for the towel rack

Click the link below to get the woodworking plans for this project. The plans have all the dimensions plus step-by-step instructions with illustrations to help you build the freestanding clothes drying rack.

Get the plans for the smaller version here.

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More Easy DIY Outdoor Projects –

DIY Outdoor Towel Rack with Shelves

DIY Outdoor Towel Rack with Shelves

Yield: 1 outdoor towel rack

How to build a DIY outdoor towel rack with drying racks and a shelf for needed supplies.

Materials

Instructions

  1. Make all the cuts per the plans and make the pocket holes.
  2. Build the racks using 2" pocket hole screws to get the strongest joint.
  3. Build the shelves, making sure all the pocket holes face the same direction
  4. Attach the shelves to the long frame with pocket hole screws and wood glue.
  5. Attach the middle racks using pocket hole screws and wood glue to complete the rack.
  6. Finish the rack with a waterproof stain to protect it against the elements and wet clothes.

Anika's goal is to inspire and empower beginners with woodworking, DIY, home improvement, and home decor ideas.
She wants everyone to unlock their creative potential and experience the feeling that comes with making something. Nothing feels better better than seeing something and saying "I can make that!"

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13 Comments

  1. This is amazing! I love how compact it is, and it looks very sturdy! Pinned to my Outdoor Inspiration board! Here from Waste Not Wednesdays!

  2. I love the plans ,Ihave been a Kreg Pocket Hole user for many years. I have never used redwood before so I am looking foward to project. I am not sure were to find redwood guess I’ll look around.

    1. Hi Bob! Pocket Holes make it so easy and fun to build furniture. I got the redwood boards from Home Depot. You should be able to find it there too.

  3. It looks pretty simple to do and great idea for towel organizing I will use it for my turkish peshtemal and see it looks thanks a lot for the post

  4. I love this idea, but the shelves will deteriorate quickly in the hot sun where I live. How heavy is the unit? Do you think it would work to put it on wheels and move it in and out of my pool bathroom? (It would have to be lifted.) I’d also love to make it wider to hang more towels. Too heavy? Great project! Thanks for the plans.

    1. Thanks, Heidi! You can certainly add heavy duty exterior wheels to the feet to be able to move it around. It is not very heavy right now I am able to lift it and move it around easily. If you end up building this, please do share a picture with me!

  5. Exactly what I am looking for!!

    I am now to wood working, and may I ask how do you join the ends together? I tried to look for your plans to see the pocket holes you mentioned, but couldn’t find them. Please help!!!

    Thanks
    Lin

    1. Hi Lin! The locations of pocket holes are detailed in the plans in step 1. Take a look and let me know if you have any questions.

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