Balustrade Coat-Hanger/Vases

Chiara Esposito
Scope of this project was to make coat-hangers in the entrance room of my house, where a wall-rack or a standing one would have turned out too bulky. The space is characterized by the wooden balustrade of the stairs coming up from the main door, so the idea that came in my mind was, why not use the balustrade itself as a rack and let the coats hang in the stairwell? Of course, we didn’t want to drill the balustrade, so we needed to make something able to grip the handrail and stick out of it in the stairwell. Then, some fancy details were still missing to have the hangers visually integrated in the room… So here is how a normal coat-hanger can become a vintage-looking coat-hanger vase for your balustrade
Design software:
Materials and tools:
– Laser cutter;
– 8mm thick MDF;
– Rubber hammer
– Wood glue;
– Clamps;
– Sanding paper, 80 and 150;
– 3mm thick Felt;
– Protective varnish (in my case, transparent);
– Universal glue (better if transparent).
Laser cutting settings:
– for 8mm MDF: 15mm/s, 80 watt;
– for 3mm felt: 150mm/s, 56 watt.
hammer, glue, sandpaper and base


1. Measures:

First step is to take measures of the handrail. In this case, it is not a squared one. So I reproduced the contour in paper to check the accuracy of my measures.
screenshoot of the coat-hanger design in NanoCad

Dimensions of the handrail in mm.

2. Design:

Every single hanger is made of 8 layers of 8mm MDF. In between the two external layers, a MDF pin passes through the middle six layers to allow for aligning them when gluing. Beyond the aesthetic aspect, the design was firstly conceived to compensate for the flexure and shear stress in the MDF due to the weight of the coats. The void fitting on the handrail, is upholstered with 3mm felt both for some clearance and in order not to scratch the wooden handrail.
screenshoot of the complete design

Design of all the parts and their dimensions in mm.

3. Laser cutting and Assembling:

Once your design is ready, the first step is to laser cut the MDF. When you get the pieces out the machine, clean the edges with a damp cloth to remove part of the burnt residue. Now you can proceed with gluing. Pay attention to the correct order of the pieces: in our case, in addition to the two external layers, also the two central ones are different from the rest as they have a small hook on the top. If you notice that the layers don’t slide easily along the pin, use a rubber hammer (be delicate though!) to push them down and get them perfectly adhering to the surface underneath. Now, put everything among clamps and wait for the glue to dry. In the meantime, cut the felt pieces.
laser cut pieces glued and clamped

Gluing phase

4. Finishing:

Since I wanted the hangers to have a vintage, natural look, the sanding phase was easy and I would dare to say even fun! Indeed, I didn’t mean to remove all the black marks of laser cutting, but I rather used those marks to emphasize the natural look.
assembled hangers sanded

The hangers after sanding

After sanding, clean the pieces to remove all the dust. Now, you can apply a protective varnish that will also highlight the texture of the surface. Wait for the varnish to dry. Last touch is to apply the felt pieces to the bottom void of the hanger using a universal glue.
final pieces

Now, the vase needs only to be filled

And here is the final result:

final result

They work!