Clever (& Cheap!) Ways To Organize With Wooden Dowels

published Mar 14, 2017
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(Image credit: Christopher Broe)

Walk into almost any hardware or craft supplies store and you’ll find a bin full of inexpensive wooden dowels. Buy one of these 48-inch-long wooden wands for under $5, and magically transform it into a useful organizing tool — everything from a DIY pegboard to a simple coat rack, like the one in the entryway above. If your home’s in need of some serious organizing help (whose isn’t?), let these hardware store hacks put things in their place.

(Image credit: Christopher Broe)

Add Under-Shelf Storage

To fit a little more supply storage into a tiny work area, attach a long dowel to the bottom of a shelf (we got the 48-inch-long dowel, above, at Home Depot for just 88 cents!). First, secure two white ceiling hooks (we used these) to the underside of the shelf, about 40 inches apart, and suspended the dowel across them. Five minutes and $4 later, you’ll have a spot to hang up postcards, scissors and washi tape.

(Image credit: Christopher Broe)

Find Your Hook

To suspend everything from a wire basket to a pair of scissors, use s-hooks in various sizes. RIKTIG curtain clips from IKEA hang up postcards and drawings, while rolls of washi tape slide right onto the dowel.

(Image credit: Christopher Broe)

Control Your Cords

To make an elastic cord keeper, cut a thin dowel into 2-inch-long sections. After securing the piece in a vise, drill two small holes all the way through the piece, spaced about an inch apart. Cut a 10-inch piece of elastic cord. Slide one end of the cord through the dowel and knot, then slide the other end through the second hole and knot. To wrangle a power cord, loop the elastic around the cord and over the dowel, as Anita demos in the video above. Adjust the length of the cord if needed.

(Image credit: Christopher Broe)

Sort Your Snail Mail

The second you walk in the door, do you like to toss your mail on the coffee table and ignore it for at least a couple days? If so, keep the pile contained (without having to deal with it right away), by building this simple entryway catchall that hangs right on the wall.

What You’ll Need:

  • Thin wood trim, cut into one 12-inch and two 7-inch pieces
  • 1/2-inch dowel, 12 inches long
  • 1 1/4-inch cotton webbing, cut into five 10-inch pieces
  • Silver decorative tacks


To assemble the frame, use wood glue and screws to attach the shorter pieces of trim to the ends of the 12-inch piece, forming right angles. Using a 1/2-inch Forstner bit, drill about 1/4 inch into the ends of the short trim pieces, creating holes for the ends of the dowel to rest in. Paint the frame, then let dry. Tack the end of each piece of cotton webbing to the back of the frame, spacing them out evenly. Wrap the other end of each webbing piece around the dowel, then stitch in place.

(Image credit: Christopher Broe)
(Image credit: Christopher Broe)

Customize Your Coat Rack

Crafting a modular entryway organizer is easier than you might think. Customize yours with exactly as many hooks as you need and/or want.

What You’ll Need

  • 4-by-24-inch wooden board
  • 3/4-inch dowel, cut into five 6-inch-long pieces
  • Wood glue
  • Wood screws


Using a pencil, make five evenly-spaced marks along the center of the board. Using a 3/4-inch Forstner bit, drill a 1/4-inch-deep hole at each marking. Use wood glue to secure each dowel in place; let dry. For extra support, turn the fullly-dried coat rack over to rest on the pegs, then drill through the back of the board and directly down into each dowel. (Careful, hold the board firmly in place as you drill.)

In the Loop: To make extra leather loops for holding scarves, cut a 2-by-8-inch rectangle out of a sheet of leather. Fold the piece in half to create a loop. Place a 1-inch grommet near the top of the loop and use a pencil to trace inside the grommet, then cut out the circle from both layers of leather. Sandwich both leather layers between the top and bottom pieces of the grommet. Working on a scrap piece of wood, gently hammer the grommet in place.

(Image credit: Christopher Broe)

Roll with It

In a rental apartment that doesn’t have a built-in paper towel holder, this on-the-counter option is the next best thing. Cut a one-inch dowel 13 inches long. Using a one-inch Forstner bit, drill 1/4 inch down into the center of a 5-inch diameter round of wood. Use wood glue to secure the dowel in place. To top it with a handle, drill a small hole all the way through the dowel, about one inch below the top. Loop the leather cord through and knot.