Make An Easy and Inexpensive Drying Rack For Crown, Base and other Wood Trim Pieces

I am working on this project where I am painting crown and base molding to look like wood.  I have 22 pieces of crown and 7 pieces of base to paint.  The individual pieces come in 16 foot lengths.  So in order to do this job I simply can not paint each piece and lay it down on the floor and wait for it to dry.  A drying rack is in order but how do you make an inexpensive drying rack for such long trim pieces.

This is what I do and it is surprisingly simple, inexpensive and sturdy.  The whole thing is made from regular 2 by 4's.  Of course the trick is to buy straight ones or as straight as you can get.  How you buy straight lumber from the store is this.  We are talking 2 by's so you pick up the 2 by 4 at one end while the other end is resting on the floor.  You look down the length of the piece from the end you have in you hand and you can see any warpage easily.  So you go thru the stack to find the straightest ones but keep in mind they can get really straight but not perfect.

After you have the 8 foot 2 by 4's you cut them in half.  Then take one and cut it into 3.5 inches blocks.  Take a look at the picture below.  You nail the blocks into each end of the 4 foot long 2 by and you only need one 3 inch nail for each block to do this.  A few of the blocks broke when I did this just to let you know.

After I put some paper down I laid first row on paper then I used three of the stacking boards I made by placing one in the center and then centered the other two on either side of that.  You want to place them so the block you nailed in is facing down, that way the 2 by goes over the row you are straddling.   The crown I am painting is almost 8 inches wide so I can put 5 pieces per level.

In the photo below you can see the stack as it grows.  In the end I had 6 levels.  I was a little apprehensive about how stable it would be and was totally shocked at not only the stability of it but how stable it actually was.  You can't even shake it at all.  I mean this system is really stable.  I wouldn't hesitate to go up another 6 levels based on the stability of what I had done.

The crown lays out pretty flat as you can see but if you look at the red arrow you can see a piece sagging there.  That is one of the baseboards.  They bend a little at the ends.  If I was just doing just base I would use 4 cross members instead of the three I am using here.

To apply the base coat of paint and also when I wood grain them I use 4 horses and lay the 16 foot long pieces across them.  I needed 4 horses or the pieces wouldn't lay straight enough with the pressure of painting on them.

There is one somewhat tricky aspect and that is the loading of the rack with the wet boards. So after I painted a crown piece I then lifted it up by using both hands under the center of the board as far apart as I could.  Then when I took it to the drying rack because I am holding it in the center and even though my hands are about 3 feet apart it is still curved down at either end.  The thing about that is you don't want to touch the other boards with the ends curved down.  So the way to load the rack is to angle your hands so the board is at about 30-45 degree angle. Doing that the board does not bend very much at all.  Obviously if you feel it slipping off your hands cut back on the angle.  Then you rest the edge of the board on the leading ends of the two outside 2 by 4 cross pieces and relax the hold until the center rests on the center cross piece.  Then I just slid the piece across the 2 bys.  They slide very easily.

Luckily I am working in a huge garage.  So the first stack I put at one end of the garage and then for the second coat of base coat paint I made a stack between the two cars.  Take off the top row and paint and put that on the floor then start moving the cross pieces for the next level and so on.  I will go back next week and start the wood grain process.