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How to Build a Basket Stand

An amazingly versatile storage basket stand, made with an amazingly versatile tool.

how to build a basket stand
The secret to this handsome, durable basket stand is a biscuit joiner, which creates super-tough joints without metal fasteners or exposed wood dowels.

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Time
A full day
Complexity
Beginner
Cost
$51–100

Overview

You’ve seen chests of drawers—well, here’s a “chest of baskets.” This basket stand can be used in nearly any room—in the bathroom for storing towels, the entryway for organizing hats and gloves, the bedroom for workout clothes, even in the kitchen for veggies or hand towels.

The total materials bill for our pine stand, including the baskets, was about $50. We bought baskets at a craft store, but lots of other retailers like Pier 1, West Elm and IKEA also carry them. Make sure to buy your baskets first; you need to construct the stand based on their dimensions.

To keep the frame of the basket stand both lightweight and strong, we used biscuit joinery. It’s a clever way to join wood, and a technique you can use with many other projects. See below for biscuit joiner tips.

How to build a basket stand

Photo 1: Mark the legs

Clamp the legs together and mark them all at the same time. That way, all your marks will line up and you’ll avoid mismatches.

Layout detail

Careful layout makes the next steps easier.

Photo 2: Cut the biscuit slots

Cut slots in the ends of the rungs and sides of the legs. Assemble each ladder in a “dry run” to make sure they fit together correctly.

Photo 3: Assemble the basket stand “ladders”

Join the rungs to the legs with glue and biscuits, then clamp the ladders together. Work fast! You have to assemble eight joints before the glue begins to set.

Photo 4: Connect the ladders

Install the front and back crosspieces with glue and nails. Then add the runners that support the baskets.

Photo 5: Top it off

Glue and nail the plywood top to the top of the stand, then apply cove molding to neaten up and hide the edges.

You’ll build the two “ladders” that form the sides of the basket stand, then glue and nail the crosspieces to join the two ladders.

To get started, cut all the parts to length (see Cutting List). Mark the rung and crosspiece locations on the legs. Mark all four legs at the same time to ensure the framework is uniform and square (Photo 1).

As you mark the legs, keep picturing how your baskets will sit on the runners, especially if you’re using baskets smaller or larger than ours; it will help you avoid mental errors. Use the biscuit joiner to cut slots in the edges of the legs and ends of the rungs (Photo 2). You’ll need to clip the biscuits to suit the 1-1/2-in.-wide legs and rungs (see “Biscuit Tips,” below).

Apply glue to the biscuits and slots (Photo 3) and assemble each joint. Clamp the ladders together and set them aside until the glue dries.

Join the two ladders by gluing and nailing the crosspieces between them. Remember that the three front crosspieces that will support the baskets lie flat. Next, install the basket runners (Photo 4) even with the flat crosspieces that run across the front. Glue and nail the 3/4-in. plywood top to the basket stand, then apply cove molding to cover the edges (Photo 5).

Biscuit tips

Clip biscuits for narrow stock

The smallest common biscuits (No. 0) are almost 1-7/8 in. long. That’s too long for the 1-1/2-in. wide parts on this basket stand. But there’s an easy solution: Just clip about 1/4 in. off both ends of each biscuit. Your slots will still be too long and visible at inside corners, but a little filler and finish will hide them.

Number the joints

While you’re marking the center lines of each biscuit slot, also number each joint. That will eliminate confusion and misalignments during assembly.

Make a glue injector

Spreading a neat, even bead of glue inside a biscuit slot ain’t easy. You can buy special injectors online, or make your own.

Homemade injector top

To make your own injector, modify the cap from a marker with a fine-tooth saw.

Always do a dry run

Biscuits grab fast. During glue-up, you don’t have time to correct mistakes or dig up a longer set of clamps. So always test the whole assembly—including clamps—before you get out the glue. For complicated assemblies, give yourself more working time by using slow-setting wood glue. Titebond Extend is one brand.

A biscuit joiner is a superb tool for joining wood where it would be difficult to use nails or screws. The joint is strong, invisible and easy to create. The compressed wood biscuits expand on contact with moisture in the glue. Since the biscuits are placed in slots that are wider than the biscuit, you can adjust the joint a little after butting the two pieces together. Biscuits come in three common sizes: No. 0, No. 10 and No. 20.

Video: How to Use a Biscuit Joiner

A biscuit joiner will help you make strong, fast and accurate joints. Spike Carlsen, an expert at Family Handyman, will show you how to use a biscuit joiner to get perfect joints.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Air compressor
  • Air hose
  • Biscuit joiner
  • Brad nail gun
  • Clamps
  • Coping saw
  • Framing square
  • Miter saw
  • Nippers
  • Orbital sander
  • Paintbrush
  • Safety glasses
  • Speed square

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • 1 x 2 pine
  • 2-in. finish nails
  • 3/4-in. plywood
  • 3/4" cove molding
  • 3/4" x 3/4" square dowels
  • Cherry penetrating oil finish
  • No. 0 biscuits
  • Wood glue
  • Woven baskets