DIY Dowel Rod Art Wall Hanging
Make your own gorgeous piece of wall decor with this simple DIY Dowel Rod Art! Cut and stain some dowel rods, arrange and mount them, then hang and enjoy.
So Many Plans and Dowel Rod Art
Do you ever have grand plans for things you’re going to get done or projects you’re going to do? And then life happens and those things get pushed to the background? We do that all the time around here. We moved into our house about 3 years ago and immediately started a list of all the things we wanted to get done in the house. Remove all the wallpaper, paint all the rooms, new baseboards/quarter-round, redo the bedroom closet, decorate the place, etc etc etc. We thought we could do all of this in a few short months (we were wrong). Fast forward to now and we can honestly say that, while some of those projects are done, many of them (and more) are still on the list.
It’s amazing how priorities change, other things come up, or how you can learn to live with things that thought you couldn’t stand from the beginning. Our bedroom closet was a great example of this. We had a closet rod in there that ran the whole length of the closet (probably close to 10 feet), but it wasn’t supported well in the middle. The previous owner had put a simple brace in the center, but without the support from a stud in the wall or anything, so it tore out probably a week after we moved in. Not being able to use the whole thing, we divided up our clothes into the other closets until we could solve this problem.
We had plans to redo the closet, either fixing the current closet rod, changing it up some, or just gutting it and starting over. We wanted this to be a soon project, not thinking we’d be able to stand having our clothes divided up into multiple closets. Well, apparently we learned to live with it because it wasn’t until about a month ago that we finally got around to fixing the closet. And what’s crazy is that all it took was buying two closet rods from Lowe’s and a few Sunday afternoons to get it all fixed up.
Another one of those constantly put off house projects on our list was wall decor. We thought we’d have walls and rooms decorated soon after we moved in, but here we are 3 years later and that process is still in the early stages. As we’ve gotten some tools and such in the garage we’ve been filling the house with some of our own projects, making DIYs and basic wall decor. I had an idea for a simple dowel rod art wall hanging using cut lengths of dowel rods, stained different colors and then placed side-by-side. This seemed like a perfect project to tackle on my first week of summer break.
This DIY Dowel Rod Art Wall Hanging requires very basic tools, goes together quickly, and looks great once finished. The setup of this piece allows for lots of customization, so you can tailor it to your style or needs. If you have a saw, some sandpaper, and can do basic painting/staining, you’re ready to make this project. Let’s get to it!
Dowel Rod Art Materials Needed:
- Wood or plywood to use for the backing, cut down to 18”x24”
- 4 dowel rods (4 feet long) of diameter 1/2”. If you don’t want to cut yours, pick up these 1/2” x 12” Dowel Rods
- 4 dowel rods (4 feet long) of diameter 7/16” (length of 4 feet)
- 4 dowel rods (4 feet long) of diameter 3/8” (length of 4 feet). Or grab these 3/8” x 12” Dowel Rods
- White paint to paint the wood backing
- Water-based stain for the dowel rods in 4 colors:
- Wood glue
- Sawtooths to hang the piece
- E6000 Craft Adhesive to attach your sawtooths
- Makita Compound Miter Saw or Circular Saw
- Kreg Rip Cut Circular Saw Guide, optional
- Makita Random Orbit Sander
- Paint brushes and/or paint rollers
- Rags for Staining
- Masks and Eye Protection to wear while cutting and sanding
**Please follow all safety procedures when working with tools. Wear gloves, safety goggles, and masks when needed and read instruction manuals for all power tools.
Dowel Rod Art Step-by-Step:
1. Start by cutting your plywood board down to size, 18”x24”. I used the Kreg Rip Cut to cut this down and it was very simple. Measure and mark where your cut will be on the board. Setup and adjust your Rip Cut on your circular saw to match the mark. Cut the piece down to size, working to make a nice steady, even cut. Repeat on the other side as well so you are left with an 18”x24” piece.
2. Cut all dowels down to 12” lengths. I found the easiest way to do this (and to try and get as close to even pieces as I could) was to measure halfway down the dowel rod, 24” on the 48” length, and mark and cut there. I then measured 12” in from the now 24” sections and cut again, leaving me with 4 12” lengths. You will lose a tiny bit of length from the saw cuts, but it won’t be an issue for this project. You can actually measure and cut multiple dowels at a time, especially if you have a compound miter saw. Just make sure you can clamp down all pieces before you cut for safety.
3. Sand the plywood with your orbital sander. Set up your orbital sander with a 120 grit paper and work your way over all surfaces of the board. Then move up to a 220 fine grit paper to ensure the surface is nice and smooth.
4. Sand dowel rods smooth. The dowel rods shouldn’t need much sanding, but make sure they are smooth (especially the cut ends). I just went over these with a 220 grit paper by hand.
5. Paint plywood with white paint. I wanted a slightly more textured look so I painted the board with a brush, but if you want a smoother, less textured finish to it, paint the board using a paint roller. Allow to dry and repeat coats as needed. I needed 3 coats on my piece to get an even, finished look.
6. Stain your dowel rods. Divide your dowels into 4 even groups, each with a variety of diameters (If you want all of your groups to be the same it would be 4 pieces of each of the 3 diameters for a total of 12 dowel pieces per group). Starting with your first color and your first group of dowels, work your way evenly over all surfaces with the stain. Allow to sit for 1-2 minutes and then work your way back over the dowel with a clean rag to soak up any excess stain. I found that if I went through and stained all of the dowels of one color, by the time I was done with them I was ready to go back and wipe them off. Set them out somewhere to dry (I used scrap wood pieces to prop them up so I could minimize contact with any surfaces until they fully dried). Repeat this step with the remaining 3 groups with each of your different stain colors.
7. While the dowels are drying, attach your sawtooths to the back of the plywood. Measure in 2” from each side and about ½” down from the top of the board and make a mark where your sawtooth would go. Depending on the thickness of your board, you can either hammer in the nails included with your sawtooths or attach them using a strong adhesive, like E6000.
8. Once your dowels have dried, layout your dowel rod art design. I recommend laying it out on a table or surface next to the board, so that once you are happy with the design you can just transfer it piece by piece onto the board and attach them (I laid it out on the board and then had to move them all off and then put them back on when I attached it. Oops!).
9. Once you have a design you are happy with, put a thin line of wood glue on the back of the first dowel and attach it to the backing board. Now I suggest you attach one or two onto the board and allow those to completely dry, weighing them down with something heavy to ensure they adhere (if you have a clamp that would work you could use that, but my clamps wouldn’t reach far enough into the piece to work for this so I used a board and the stain cans for weight). Having a few of them glued on will make it less likely that they will shift as you add more dowels. Once they have dried (about an hour with the wood glue I used) you can add the rest, working one at a time. You shouldn’t need a lot of glue per dowel; just a thin line should be sufficient (using too much will cause excess to ooze out the sides and you don’t want the glue showing up on your decor). Wipe up any excess glue with a damp cloth before it dries.
10. Allow all dowels to complete set up and adhere (24 hours) to ensure the glue gets its full strength and you don’t have to worry about dowels falling off once you hang it up.
There you have it. Hang your Dowel Rod Art wherever you’d like and enjoy it! Ours is hanging up in the office and it brings a smile to our faces every time we walk in there or see it from the hall.
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Until next time, enjoy the journey!