You’ve just read DIY Fresh Pastas: Make Traditional, Whole-Grain or Gluten-Free Noodles, and now you’re itching to get flour under your fingernails. If you want to save some pasta for later, you’ll need a way to dry those noodles. These plans show you how to build a rack for drying your fresh pasta. The rack is collapsible, so it needn’t clutter up your countertop when not in use. You’ll find lots of other uses for this rack besides drying fresh pasta — see 10 Things You Can Do with a Folding Rack.
When opened, the legs of this DIY drying rack will span a standard 32-inch kitchen sink. When closed, the rack can be stowed out of the way next to your cutting boards and cookie sheets.
Although these plans direct you to build a pasta drying rack from pine, you can also use oak, maple, or any other hardwood for strength and appearance. Get started by referring to the materials and cutting lists, and then follow these step-by-step instructions to build a rack that will dry yards of pasta over years of use.
1. Cut the rack sides (A) to the length indicated in the cutting list. Mark the positions of the 3/8-inch-diameter holes for the dowels, as shown in the illustration. Bore the holes using a drill press or a drill with a stop collar. Use a brad-point bit (with a center spur to keep the bit in line), and make the holes 7/16-inch deep. Note: The position of the leg pivot holes is critical because it determines how far the legs will splay out when the collapsible drying rack is opened and in use.
2. Use a compass to draw the 1-1⁄4-inch-radius semicircles for rounding the ends of the rack sides. Use a jigsaw to cut the ends to shape, and sand the edges smooth.
3. Cut the rack ends (B) and dowels (C) to length and round the ends slightly with sandpaper. Tap the dowels into the holes on one of the rack sides (A), and then lay the assembly on a flat surface. Position the other side across from it and then, starting at one end, fit the dowels into the holes of the second side. Don’t use glue. Note: You can simplify this task by using bar clamps to gently squeeze the sides toward each other as you fit in the dowel ends.
4. Drill pilot holes for the rack ends (B), and then secure the ends between the sides (A) using two 2-inch trim head screws for each joint. Drive the screw heads slightly below the surface and fill the depressions with wood putty.
5. Cut the legs (D) to length, and then mark and drill the pivot holes all the way through the legs as shown. Mark a 3/4-inch radius on the leg ends, and shape them with a jigsaw and sandpaper as you did with the rack sides in Step 2. Cut the leg crosspieces (E) to length, and slightly bevel the ends. Pre-drill the holes to prevent splitting, and then secure the crosspieces to the legs using glue and 2-inch trim head screws. Use a carpenter’s square to make sure the leg assemblies are square as you fasten the parts.
6. Create the four small leg pivots (F) by cutting dowels to length and then using sandpaper to slightly taper one end as shown in the leg pivot detail at right. (The tapered ends will allow the folding rack’s legs to swing easily.) To install each leg assembly, apply a dab of wood glue to the pivot holes in the legs (D), line up the leg pivot holes with the rack side pivot holes (A), and then tap the leg pivots (F) through the legs and into the sides, with the tapered ends facing the rack sides (A). Note: If you’ve measured, cut, drilled and assembled the collapsible drying rack correctly, the distance between the bottoms of the legs when swung out should be between 33 and 35 inches, and the legs should fold neatly into the rack for storage.
7. Sand your collapsible drying rack and finish it with two coats of paint or polyurethane to protect the wood from moisture during use.
• Two pine 1-by-3s, 6 ft. long
• Two pine 1-by-2s, 6 ft. long
• Four hardwood dowels, 3⁄8-inch x 4 ft. long
• Exterior wood glue
• Trim head screws, 2 inches
• Polyurethane wood finish
• 2 rack sides (A), 3⁄4-inch x 2-1⁄2-inch x 36-inch
• 2 rack ends (B), 3⁄4-inch x 2-1⁄2-inch x 15-inch
• 9 dowels (C), 3⁄8-inch x 15-3⁄4-inch
• 4 legs (D), 3⁄4-inch x 1-1⁄2-inch x 15-inch
• 4 leg crosspieces (E), 3⁄4-inch x 1-1⁄2-inch x 14-7⁄8-inch
• 4 leg pivots (F), 3⁄8-inch x 1-1⁄8-inch dowel
1. Hang your cheese-straining bag over a bowl or sink.
2. Dry homemade pasta.
3. Place the rack over a heating vent to dry damp mittens and hats.
4. Air-dry laundry, dish towels and washrags.
5. Serve breakfast in bed with a tray on top of the rack.
6. Hang freshly cut herbs and spices for drying.
7. Use the rack as a laptop desk when you’re working in an easy chair.
8. Air-dry dishes on a crowded counter. (Use it to build a second story!)
9. Keep bugs off your picnic food by draping netting over the rack.
10. Cool pies and cakes on your DIY drying rack.
Spike Carlsen is an author and woodworker whose first article for MOTHER EARTH NEWS was Arch House: A Different Way to Build in 1989. This piece is an excerpt from his terrific new book, The Backyard Homestead Book of Building Projects.
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