Make a Pallet Wood Creel or Overhead Drying Rack for Clothes, Herbs and Flowers

Cheap and cheerful engineering in the practical use of recycled, untreated pallet and fruit crate wood to make a pulley creel/dryer.

I had two main reasons for making this drying rack, firstly because our teatowels were getting singed on the woodburner and secondly we had a huge crop of chillies to dry and store.

However, this rack, which in the Winter we use to dry clothes, could be made at least twice the size and give ample room to dry all your washing. I decided to go the whole hog an fabricate the pulleys. It was not as hard to make them as I had supposed. Even if you are just starting out in woodworking I think you will find that you will be able to make them quite easily by just following the steps set out below.

If you decide, as I did,  to cut the clothes rails down from pallet wood planks, then I would recommend using a circular saw. Alternatively you could buy three broom stales or wooden dowels (the former I could get here for 1 Euro each) but I enjoy the challenge of making everything from recycled wood! 

You will also need a set of hole saws to make the different components of the pulleys, these are inexpensive and usually easy to find as they are commonly used to cut large diameter holes for electrical installations. They are also a good investment as they provide a cheap alternative to buying expensive, large size wood drill bits. You often find them included in drill sets. My set of seven hole saws was included in a set of drills and the  collection cost 12 Euros.

Step One - Making the Pulley Wheels & Housing with some tips on sourcing fruit crate wood

I chose a specific fruit crate wood, which is 3 ply, these are quite common and are usually for transporting oranges and other heavier fruit and vegetables. The side and end pieces are wide enough to be very useful in all kinds of projects. Keep a good look out for these particularly now in the marmalade orange season!

Robust 3 ply fruit crate wood, or in this case a potato box.

Cutting out the basic pulley components


From a pallet wood plank cut 3 discs at 50 mm diameter.

From a fruit crate (orange box) cut 5 discs at 60 mm diameter. 

 Drill out central hole to dowel diameter.

Assembling the pulley components

You will be making two pulleys, one single and one double. The double pulley maintains the separation of the cord attached to each end of the rack and combined with the single pulley enables the free running of the cord.

Starting with the single pulley, glue both faces of the smaller pallet wood wheel and attach to the faces of the larger fruit crate wheels. To ensure correct alignment of the central hole, insert the dowel shaft prior to clamping (do not glue this).

Clamp and leave to dry as per Manufacturer's instructions for the glue you are using.

 Repeat for the double pulley.

Making the pulley housing

Each pulley housing comprises a base and two sides. They are made from pallet wood and I shaped the ends to make them more aesthetically pleasing but there is no need to do this.

Cut 4 sides and cut 2 bases. The base should be slightly wider than the pulley. Drill hole for dowel and having marked base thickness on sides, drill clearance holes for screws.

Glue and


Prior to screwing the second side, fit the pulley on its shaft into the housing to ensure shaft alignment

Step Two - Making the Rack. Cutting out the basic components


I used a coat hanger as a pattern for the end plates of my rack.


Cut two end plates from a pallet wood plank.

Cut the square section rails from pallet wood.  Each end should be shaped to fit the holes you will drill in the end plates. I used a penknife to shape the rail ends.



Step Three - Assembly

Glue and if you want to, though not necessary, clamp.

Mount pulleys to ceiling joists, sit back and watch it on film.

Thanks for dropping by and please do ask if you need any further information. 

Feel free to share this article and/or comment. 

Cheers Andy.

© Andy Colley 2014


  1. Great idea. Where did you buy your multi-blade hole saw?

    1. Hi, Thanks for your comment and question. I got it from a clearance shop but it's a standard tool, so you should be able to get in any DIY store or ironmongers. Just watch out for the quality because my father-in-law bought one and it was terrible, the retaining method for holding the blade was very insecure. I'd go for something like Wolf or Black and Decker. Discount shops here in France do sell a lot of quality clearance tools (bankrupt stock). I got mine in a set of Black and Decker drills - it was 12 Euros for the whole lot - so do check out discount shops if you have them where you live. A couple of points on using the saw, I found with the thinner woods, the cutter on exiting was very likely to 'snatch' so make sure the workpiece is well-clamped down (don't just use your hand). I also found if you clamp the workpiece to a scrap piece of wood the cut is a lot cleaner and less likely to snatch.
      Best Wishes and Good Luck, Organikmechanic aka Andy

  2. Great job Andy. Exactly what I needed, knowing that they cost at least 80 Euros over here. I'm gonna set out to do just that on our 11th Nov. bank holiday. One question though how do you fit broom sticks on the sides if I want to go for that solution (don't have the tools to cut square sections from pallet) ?
    Thanks a lot

  3. Salut Mathieu,
    That's a great idea to use broom sticks. I didn't illustrate it in the post but I used a penknife to make the square sections round where they were to fit into holes drilled in the sides. So, before the shops close, obtain a drill bit the same diameter as the broom stick to drill the holes in the wood..
    If you need any more information, don't hesitate to ask.

    Good luck with the project and thanks for visiting the Green Lever.