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Mark C.

Simple Rack System For Shows- Standard Rack

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Many know I have posted about my more complex tiered rack systems  and that I have sent out plans for them

These are my simple racks that I also use and heres how they are made.

These racks also compliment my booth along with the tiered racks

In a typical booth 10x10 I use two 6 foot tired racks and one or two 5 or 6 foot standard racks (which I will call the standard rack to keep it clear vs the tiered ones)

In this photo of booth- forget about the rack off to the left its a standard 6 foot one but there are two standard 5 footers inside my 10x10 footprint

These are much simpler to make. They have most flexible use as they fit narrow spaces.

Most of my shows are not 10x 10 but for this example I will show this space use.

I only do a few with this space constraint  so I have many lengths for different booth layouts

I do many double booths and a few that are 15x10 and a few 10x10s


These standard racks have two uprights which I call standards. These are all made from silver maple and the crossbars are set in positions that display my wares best. These decisions are made from many decades of street shows and rack systems with my particular work. The narrow shelves show (what I call flat stuff) off well-those forms are pie plates -chip and dips-square plates-etc.

The tall shelves show glasses-vases-pitchers-utensil holders

As I go lower I display stacks of plates and bowls that one can look into.

These rack are never used for say mugs. I use my other design (tired )ones for them

The racks are all the same widths- 15 inch’s on the outside dimension of the standards.

All racks are 6 shelve units, the same heights (63 inches tall)

I have them in 3 foot and 4 foot and 5 foot and 6 foot widths

The material  is all ¾ inch thick silver maple when done sanding.

. The standards are put together with waterproof glue and biscuit joined

Since they are all alike except for widths they work well together.


I have a pair of each size-you can set them up back to back and they all are the same heights so the wares look like they are all on the same levels.

I use them in corner booth displays as I always have a corner. A single would work well in an inline booth just as well.

The shelves are made from a light colored high quality multi-layer plywood .All are ¾ inch thick-Like birch plywood sold at a quality wood yard (not a big box store)They are double sided with the veneer on both sides so you can flip them.

The edges of the shelves are banded with iron on birch banding. If all this sounds over your head you will need a woodworker to make them. Do not use a good iron for this process my wife says-I have my own shop iron for shop use.

I had all mine made from one of the most talented wood people I have ever known. But any good wood worker can make these

The shelves are all 11 ¾ inch wide

I like the water base poly finishes as they never fade the wood and always look bright and light-the only drawback is they off gas for months in the van.

The key points here and this is critical is the two standards have a coated wire attached to them with crimps permanently-you can see this wire in the photo so look closely for it as this keeps them from falling over. You NEED THIS WIRE. The wire is 1/8th coated and the wire fits thru a hole you drill in standards and you use a small aluminum crimp which is to large to slip back thru hole. I like the wire lower than the second from top shelve, as you cannot see the wire as a customer.This wire forms an x on the standards. The other key item is the top and bottom shelve boards are wood cleats that trap the standards and keep the unit tight and strong-look for these in photo. All the other boards can interchange anywhere except the cleated ones on top and bottom. The standards are wired as a pair and the whole rack breaks down flat for storage. Never had one fall or fail.

If you have questions just ask.









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So I got asked to put  some work in a  gallery about an hour away. I refinished a spare 6 foot standard rack for this location.

I redid the cross  which is coated 3/32nd wire today and shot these photos so you could know how this rack is made .This wire is bait hard to run down at least in this county. OSH hardware carries it -our nearest one is about a 6 hour drive so I stock most of what I may need in my van-extra wire and ferrels.

The aluminum 3/32 ferrels which you crimp with the tools in photo will help . You need a great crimper and a good pair of wire cutters and a standard pair of pliers helps.

The one photo shows the cleats on the top shelve on bottom of board and you also use these cleats on bottom of bottom board. They stop the rack from collapsing inward,

The wire keeps it stable from going sideways -you need both system in place. I have used these at show for over 30 years so I can say they are strong and worry free. Never had one come down.The photos show where the wires are and how they are terminated and what the rack looks like in various set up stages.

The last photo is 8 boxes of pots and this rack and dolly in my wife's Honda fit ready to take to gallery in am-she is out of town and its a good opportunity to see what I can fit into a fit.its never seen this kid of load before.I have 3 vehicles of my own but hey the cats away and the mice will play.










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Looks good Mark, very simple to make, knock down and setup..


How far apart are the side frames, looks like about 3'?


The reason I'm asking is 3' is the magic number where 3/4" shelves can sag form the load placed on them.

If so just add one or two strips of wood running long ways between the sets of two cleats. That would add a lot of strength to the shelves.

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I can measure it again today when I set it up-its more than 3 feet-the shelves do not sag.The spread on this six foot one is 48 inches between uprights.

This unit is 70 inches long and 15 inches wide set up. I also have these racks in 5 feet and 4 feet long two of each length .

The strong backs you mention are on my other style of rack the tiered unit  that I send out plans for. These strong backs are not needed on this unit if you use high quality birch plywood or another hardwood faced plywood.This  quality of plywood is not sold at big box stores-you need a speciality lumber supplier that services the cabinet industry. The edges as mentioned are banded with iron on birch banding then finished -I like the ZAR water based exterior polyurethane finish as it never changes color and will not fade-put three coats on. If the wood is light such as my silver maple frames with birch plywood the color is light and the pots look best on this lighter wood.Stained woods or dark oaks do not show off the pots as well.

-these in photo are (general brand) finish-you start with a clear seal-a-cell coat for raw wood and then top coat with arm-R-seal oil and urethane topcoat-I use satin-3 coats-this will honey up (change color to a honey tone) over time. I leaned about the Zar water based not ever changing and had all my shelves redone from scratch with this finish(I do all my own finish work) it never fades or changes to honey color.

All this  finishes are a bit hard to work with and take lots of time to off gas.-steel wool (0000) between coats  with the oil-tack cloth and  one coat a day-the arm-r-seal. you can do 2 coats a day with the water based Zar.I use a stain pad to apply the general finish and a foam brush for the water based ZAR-220 sand between coats with a tack cloth afterwards.

remember Zar water based does not yellow  and show the light woods well over time and the other general fishish does honey up (darken over time).

both have their place.

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