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DIY Miniature Paint Rack

Updated: Mar 7, 2020

Written by Sarah-Anne

When we decided to re-organize our paint and hobby room, the biggest issue we faced was our lack of storage solutions. As we weren't (and still aren't) exactly sure what the final layout will be, I didn't want us to spend too much on store-bought solutions. I had heard that the type of foam board that the paper backing doesn't easily remove from actually made a great building material for lighter-weight items, so I spent some time searching on Google and Pinterest for a design I liked. However, most of the designs available with instructions featured a 'step' design where each row sat just slightly higher than the preceding one, which gave it a larger footprint that I wanted to take up on my desk. Ideally I wanted to make one similar to the MDF ones sold by ShiftingLands but again, with a much smaller budget:

For this project I made both a larger rack to hold Chris and my paints, and a smaller one for our son's own supply. Though the sizes are different, the constructions is the same for each:

Materials required:

- Foam board (Studio brand or other non-removable paper backed kind) cut in the following dimensions:


top 7.5cm x 46.5cm (x1)

top sides 7.5cm x 17.5cm (x2)

back 22.5cm x 44.5cm (x1)

base sides 8.5cm x 4cm (x2)

base front 45.5cm x 4cm (x1)

horizontal inserts 44.5cm x 6cm (x5)

vertical inserts 2.5cm x 6cm (x84)

base shelf 10cm x 46.5cm (x1)

bottom stabilizers 8cm x 4cm (x2)


top 7.5cm x 19.5cm (x1)

top sides 7.5cm x 11.5cm (x2)

back 17.5cm x 16cm (x1)

base sides 4cm x 8.5cm (x2)

base front 4cm x 18.5cm (x1)

horizontal inserts 17.5cm x 6cm (x3)

vertical inserts 2.5cm x 6cm (x20)

base top 10cm x 19.5cm (x1)

bottom stabilizer 8cm x 4cm (x1)

- PVA glue

- hot glue sticks

Tools Required:

- hobby knife with additional blades (cutting through the paper backing dulls the blades quickly and you want to maintain a sharp blade so as to not tear the foam)

- ruler and/or measuring tape

- pencil or pen

- hot glue gun

- push pins

First I had to cut the foam board into the various shapes needed, which ended up being the most time consuming part of the project (aside from glue drying time). For this project I decided to go with black foam board simply for aesthetics, but you could use white, or even paint the board another colour before or after assembly. I prefer the black as the foam inside is the same colour and tends to blend in to the background of my work station.

Along each of the horizontal inserts, I measured out with a pencil every 2.5cm increments, with another 0.5cm spaced between them. The 2.5cm spaces will be where the paint bottles slide in, and the 0.50 is where the vertical inserts will sit. By drawing this out before gluing, I can ensure that each vertical insert is glued in precisely. I also made note of which cut end was nicer, and used an arrow to denote that it would be the front-facing side.

To attach the vertical inserts, I started with one horizontal insert at a time and using either PVA or hot glue, attached the vertical pieces along one side. In this case I chose to use hot glue as I wanted the pieces to dry right away, and I was only gluing a small piece at a time. Once all the horizontal pieces had the vertical inserts attached, I added the remaining ones to the underside of the final horizontal piece.

Once all the vertical inserts were glued to the horizontals, I started gluing the horizontal inserts to one another to make the grid pattern as imaged below. For this step I used PVA glue as I needed a longer working time, and with them secured along one edge with the hot glue there was less a chance of them sliding around and curing in a position I didn't want. Now the rack portion was starting to take shape!

Next I attached the back (again with PVA glue) and to ensure a tight bond while it dried, used push pins to hold it together. Then the top was glued to the rack in a similar fashion, and the top sides.

In the above image the paint rack is actually upside down.

The base was the next part to be constructed, and is assemble almost like it's own box underneath the paint rack. As the back panel went all the way to the bottom of the structure, I had to adjust the top shelf of the base so that it would overlap and wrap to the sides of where it met with the back. For that I cut away 0.50cm from along one edge, leaving enough on either end (1 cm) so it would fit snugly against the back (as shown). It was then glued to the bottom of the rack with PVA glue and pinned into place.

Unfortunately I didn't get photos of the next steps, but they were very similar to what I had done so far. I glued the bottom sides so they were flush with the back, and then glued the bottom front panel. Finally I added the stabilizers inside the base, and it was complete!

Aside from the PVA glue drying time, the most time intensive part was cutting out all the pieces. The assembly itself went rather quickly, and I am quite happy with the results. The paint rack is lightweight yet surprisingly sturdy, and the larger one can hold up to 90 paints pots with ease, and best of all the overall footprint takes up very little room on my already cramped work station.

If I were to change anything for next time, it would be to make sure my cuts were a little neater (I didn't start with a fresh blade on my hobby knife and it had a tendency to tear the foam instead of cutting it neatly) and ensure that when I was gluing in my vertical inserts I took a little more care to make sure they were straight. You can see a difference from the first rack I made (the larger) to the second, smaller one, as with it all the rows match up much better. I hope you enjoyed this one-day build, and give it a go yourself!

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