Racking The Quilts: Part I

For my Mother-In-Law's birthday, my wife and I decided a homemade quilt rack would be a nice gift to compliment her growing hobby.
Charles Neil's Quilt Rack
Not being a quilter myself, I started by looking at quilt rack designs to see what they’re al about. After Googling Quilt Rack and staring at a bunch of pictures, l took a liking to Charles Neil's Shenandoah Valley Quilt Rack which he describes in a video series. It’s a quilt rack design of unknown origins that his Aunt picked up at an auction in the Shenandoah Valley in the 1940’s or 1950’s. Neil’s rack has side legs that gracefully flow from the feet to the top with a gentle, flowing curve. I sketched out the side profile of Neil’s Shenandoah Valley Quilt Rack in my design notebook and then I put the project away for a few months.
The Leg & Foot pieces, mid milling

Once it was determined that I would, in fact, make the quilt rack for my mother-in-law’s birthday, I went back to my notebook.

First I figured out the overall dimensions of the project by looking for a measured quilt rack plan online and cribbing their overall dimensions. Then I milled some Flame Yellow Birch from Bell Forrest Products for the sides and some Walnut from Lakeshore Hardwoods for the cross members. As the Flame Yellow Birch was just a tiny bit too wide for my 6” jointer, I first ripped them with my track saw so they would fit. Then I jointed and planed them.

Using the overall dimensions from online plan and the actual milled lumber I had, I traced the lumber to make rectangles on a piece of ¼” hardboard to represent the size of the boards. Then, working within the outline of the boards, I drew the actual quilt rack, full scale, on the hardboard. I used my notes and a french curve, without referring back to Neil’s original. This resulted in my quilt rack having a slightly curvier side perspective than Neil’s (I’ve since revisited is original). It also meant that mine was milled from rough 4/4 stock and his from 8/4, so mine is of course thinner. I’m not sure if I would have done this if I’d been referring to the original, but now that it’s all done I’m glad I did, as I’ve come to really like the flowing curve and visually lighter leg of my design.
With the outline of the milled boards traced onto the
hardboard I then drew the actual quilt rack within the boarders.
Once the initial milling was complete, I went back to the drawing on the hardboard. First I marked the locations of the cross members. Then I laid out the locations of the Dominos which would be used to attach the feet to the sides. Marking the locations at this point was much easier than after I cut out the template and shaped the legs, as it let me reference the square sides of the initially milled boards, rather than the curved sides of the finished legs.