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!
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?
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.
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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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.
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 ⅜″ 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 ½″ and set the drill bit collar slightly below the 1 ½″ 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.
Since the boards are only 1 ⅜″ thick, I used 2″ pocket hole screws to get the strongest joint. The blue-kote screws are outdoor screws and work well.
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.
Step 4 – Attach the shelves
Next, turn the structure on its side and attach the front rack to the shelves.
Step 5 – 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.
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)
The shelves on the bottom are perfect to hold clean towels or a basket of swim goggles and sunscreen.
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!
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.