The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Wood Rack for Pool Balls

My niece asked me to build a wood rack, so she can give it as a gift to her boyfriend.  She wants the boyfriend's name on the side of the rack.  I went on the Internet and found some examples.........

I also found a YouTube video by a guy showing how he made a wood rack........

I am pretty sure I can figure out how to make the wood rack.  The only thing I don't know, is how to best make the letters on the side of the rack. The racks on the Internet look like they have the letters laser burned into the wood..........and I don't own a laser.......yet :)

I thought about using the scroll saw inlay method, but I don't know how to hide the saw cuts on the inside of the rack.  On the Ladybug boxes I made, a guide piece for the box lid hides the scroll saw work on the back-side.

Design Process

Since we have a pool table, I got our plastic rack, and traced the ID of the rack on 2 sheets of paper taped together.  I scanned this paper into the computer, and imported it into Sketchup. I marked 9" on the tracing, so I know how to scale it to the correct size in Sketchup.............

I decided to follow the general process the gentleman used on his Youtube video to make the pool rack.  I made a series of 4 drawings in Sketchup to aid me in the process of making the wood pool rack. I decided to make my rack with sides that are 5/16" thick. I used my re-saw fixture on the bandsaw to slice regular 3/4" thick maple in half, then planed to 5/16" thickness.


My router lettering kit has 1.5" tall letters, and they need to be about 3/4" high on the pool rack, so this won't work.

I checked my Ladybug boxes, and discovered that I hid the back side of the inlay with a piece of wood........that is the guide for the lid to set on the box.  There is no way to hide the inlay method on the inside of the pool rack.

So, I decided to try hand lettering the name. I designed the name using 2 different fonts in sketchup.............

I did a test run with the Clarendon font, a small artist's brush, and black enamel paint on maple..................

Test Run Results

Up close, the lettering does not look that good.......but a few feet away it does look good.  I think I will do another test run with the Plump font, and see how that looks.  The Plump font should be easier to hand paint than the Clarendon was.

Paint Bleed

I decided to go ahead and paint the Plump font on 1 side of the rack, before I assembled it.  I got the letters painted..........when I noticed the black paint was bleeding with the grain.......from letter-to-letter......Darn!!  I wiped off the paint with a rag, cleaned the paint with paint thinner, and sanded residue off.  The last step was sanding to 220 grit using the drum sander, to avoid the paint bleed..........which worked.  Moral of the story, always sand to 220 grit before painting!!!!!!!!!!

The 30 degree angled table saw cut, does not cut the angle to full depth where it meets the 5/16" thick stock.  Just like the guy in his Youtube video, I had to take a hand saw and cut the 30 degree angle to full depth.  I also used a 1/4" sharp chisel to remove any remaining table saw cross-cut marks.

Gluing and Clamping

I used my trusty Titebond II glue, and the nail and string method of clamp-up.  I had to fuzz saw the triangles, because 2 were a little wider than the 1st one.  The dark 3 corners are walnut, from Lloyd Well's timber south of Fairbury.

Rounding the ID and OD's

In the gentleman's Youtube video, he used a large Forstner bit to remove the excess material in the 3 ID's of the rack. My process was:

1. Print paper pattern from Sketchup of finished ID and OD for one of the 3 joints
2. Use the paper pattern and carbon paper to mark the ID and OD lines on the rack, retrace with pencil on wood to make the lines darker on the walnut
3. Band saw the OD, leave a 1/16" to an 1/8" to finish sand
4. Use a drum sander on the drill press to finish the ID and OD's to the pencil line with 80 grit
5. Finish sand the ID's and OD's with 220 grit drum sander on the drill press

I thought the rack was too delicate to use a 2 inch+ Forstner bit on the ID, so I just drum sanded it instead.

I then did 3 rounds of 220 grit sanding and applying clear gloss polyurethane.

Finished Rack

Closing Thoughts on This Project

This was a relatively quick project to build. I used the method of baking glued up parts for about 10 minutes at 115 F in the oven, to speed up the process. This included baking the glued up walnut blanks, and the final glue-up of the finished rack. This is the first time I hand lettered something with lettering only 3/4" high.  The Plump font style from Sketchup was easier to hand paint, and looks better than the thin strokes required of the Clarendon font. As on some other projects, the polyurethane makes the black letters "pop" on the finished project.

I put my Sketch-up Model in the Warehouse, and you can download it here.