diy project: vintage trophy coat rack

This project has made me so enamored of old trophies that I may have to devote an entire Treasure Hunting post to them, although I’m not sure I could top this re-purposing idea. When paired with a nicely finished piece of hard wood, the shiny metallic trophies actually look modern and . . . classy? Not something I thought I would ever say about a sports trophy. Thank you so much for sharing this idea with us, Colleen! Now if I could only get good enough at a competitive sport so I can win a few of these to disassemble :) — Kate

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CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

Eric and I just moved into a new apartment a few months ago and have slowly been making it our own. We had this collection of vintage trophies left over from a project we just finished. This funny little assortment was sitting on our desk as we were sketching out coat-hanger ideas for our entryway. I glanced over at the trophies, and the light bulb went off! — Colleen


  • 1/4” drill bit
  • 3/16” drill bit
  • 3/4” Forstner bit
  • 1/2” countersink bit
  • clamps
  • 1/4″ 20 nuts and washers, 6 of each
  • 150- and 220-grit sandpaper
  • rags
  • shellac (100% natural finish)
  • Howard Feed-N-Wax Orange Oil Finish
  • vintage metal trophies with threaded rod for mounting (All the trophies I’ve found have this, but check just in case.)
  • wood (solid boards can be purchased and cut down at Lowes/Home Depot. I used a 41 1/2 x 4 1/2 piece of walnut)


1. Wood in hand, take your trophies and get a visual of where you’d like to mount them and on which side of the wood. Starting on the back, mark out where you’d like the trophies to be mounted. I chose to mount them 2” from the bottom, giving a little extra space toward the top since they aren’t symmetrical. Also, I spaced them evenly across the board.

2. Clamp the wood down to your work surface. Taking the 3/4” Forstner bit, drill at the center of each marking. Try to keep the drill square to the wood; with this bit, you don’t need to go full speed with the drill — nice and steady with a little pressure works best. You only want to go as deep as the space the washer and nut take up. This will allow you to attach the trophies and keep the back edge flush to the wall.

(Note: The Forstner bit creates a center indent that can be used as a guide for drilling the mounting holes using the 1/4” drill bit. Once all the holes are drilled, flip the wood so the  front is facing up.)

3. Now to make the holes for the screws that will hold the rack onto the wall: For this step, you need to plan where the rack will hang and measure where the studs are. It’s best if the mounting screws catch the studs in the wall. Once you have that measurement, mark it out on the wood. I planned on using 3/16” screws, so I used the 3/16” drill bit and drilled through the wood.

4. To create that seamless look, use the 1/2” countersink to create a “dip” for the screw head to sit flush to the wood. Practice with this drill bit a few times to get the hang of it. It doesn’t take much to make the impression. If you do it in small steps, you can fit the screw in to test the fit.

5. You’re done with the drilling and onto the sanding. With the 150-grit sandpaper, sand all the surfaces visible once the piece is hung. Sand in the direction of the grain. Once the surface feels less rough, go over it with the 220-grit paper — this will give it a smooth feel. Run a rag over the surface to remove most of the sawdust.

6. Shellac is next! I love this finish. It’s all natural, and while it does smell a little earthy, it’s totally nontoxic. It is a little sticky, and while I didn’t wear gloves, you might want to. Get a hearty amount of shellac on your rag and wipe it around for a minute, covering all areas. Shellac dries very quickly, so you want to apply it fast. If you feel it getting tacky, stop applying and leave it to dry. Apply 3 or 4 times.

7. Give the shellac a few good hours to dry, then lightly sand away any big drips. You can dial the shiny-ness down by buffing the whole piece with some steel wool. Finally, use a rag to apply the Howard’s wax. A little goes a long way! Let it dry for a minute or two, then buff with a dry rag.

8. Time to mount those trophies. Look over the drilled areas and remove any excess splintered wood that might obstruct. Once you have your trophy on, use the washer and nut to attach it. Mount it on the wall, stand back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

  1. Brigette says:

    This is the most amazing idea! From the moment I saw this DYI project I knew I had to make one for my brother. Thanks for posting this!

  2. chela says:

    I hate trophies but this is such a brilliant use for them, love it!

  3. Sadie says:

    This is very cool! I didn’t think the metal figures on the tops of trophies were too strong though – are they strong enough to hang coats, etc. without bending?

  4. Angie says:

    LOVE this idea!! I have been thinking about doing this with cute drawer knobs to use as a necklace hanger. Love this take on it!!

  5. Molly says:

    This is so awesome!!

  6. Betsy says:

    yes! I’ve been picking these up for $1 each at a local recycled craft supply store. This is the best project I’ve seen.

  7. Sparky says:

    Hahaha, I love this! I see old trophies at my local thrift store and always think, “There must be something clever I can do with those!” Well, that fits the bill. Cute!

  8. Charlotte says:

    What a genius idea! I have a hope chest full of old trophies and I know exactly what to do with them now. Thanks, Colleen!

  9. Evelin says:

    That’s genius!

    I’ve got a few lying around in a closet somewhere :)

  10. Maggie says:

    This is AWESOME. I might have to cannibalize my brother’s Pinewood Derby trophies when he moves out of my Mom’s house to do this one!

  11. Sarah says:

    would be super cute in a boys room! even cuter if they were old trophies from family members.

  12. Danielle says:

    I see old trophies at thirft stores all the time, and I often wondered what kind of alternative use they could have. This is brilliant!

  13. Liz says:

    This is amazing! What a brilliant idea.
    I love the tote bag you have hanging on the rack too.
    Very cool…

  14. Lindsay says:

    This idea was in ReadyMade years ago, submitted by my friend Siobhan:

  15. Debra says:

    I see them at thrift stores and they make me sad thinking, “why did these get thrown out?” But taking the names off them helps. This is really clever.

  16. Alicia says:

    Anyone in Boston?
    These are on craigslist now for free!

  17. I love this! I had so many trophies as a kid but I think I tossed them all out. My sister still kept all of hers though so I think I may make her one of these!

  18. hena tayeb says:

    That is a brilliant idea. Love it.

  19. Anna says:

    This is one of the best simple ideas I’ve seen in a while. Very inspiring!

  20. lizajane says:

    This is so awesome!

  21. Falicia says:

    Lindsay, I remember this being in Ready Made! I had to have been in high school when then how-to on this was published. I love this idea, and one of these days, I’ll get around to doing it.

  22. MsChilePepper says:

    Ha! A young dudely neighbor in my old apartment complex drove a ratty old Datsun(?) pickup. He had replaced the hood ornament with the figurine from a woman’s bowling trophy. It made me giggle every time I saw it!

  23. Thanks for all the wonderful feedback! Lindsay – thanks for linking to Siobhan’s project. She was definitely first on the trophy/rack scene. I hadn’t seen it in ReadyMade. Hopefully I was able to add a little something to a great idea!

  24. Fifu says:

    Who is the artist on the first picture? (painting)

  25. Barb says:

    What a great idea.
    I would love to know who the artist is for the painting in the first picture and what medium was used.

  26. The painting ranks as one of my top 5 flea market finds. I believe it’s acrylic and there appears to be a name that’s been painted over – very mysterious.

  27. Solana says:

    This is fantastic! My boyfriend and I were just brainstorming ways to creatively use our old trophy’s from our childhood, but never thought of taking them apart. Great job!

  28. so smart…actually making use of eyesore trophies!

  29. karen says:

    We have a bajillion old trophies around here from little boy sports. Cannot possibly display them all, this is the coolest idea I have seen in a long time!

  30. No treasure hunt necessary for me. We just bought a house and found a box overflowing with bowling and baseball trophies in the basement. Guess I know what I’m using them for now!! Great post.

  31. MThayer says:

    great idea. i suppose it depends on your trophies as well. These work, but i’m pretty sure my 6th grade dance express honorable mention trophy wouldn’t be the same. and what is that painting above?

  32. DesignBoxx says:

    I ABSOLUTELY love this. I have a 4 year old son and I have designed his room to have a vintage/modern design. This is a perfect project for his trophies that he “won” in T-ball and soccer this year. Genious!!! Thank you!!

  33. Julie says:

    these are seriously cool… on my to do list for sure :)

  34. desi says:

    this is an incredible idea ^^

  35. joanna says:

    Love this idea .I dont have any trophies ,but a friend does I ve been doing their house this would been a great way to displaythe trophies thanks JO

  36. Laura says:

    This idea is so exciting…. going out to the garage to find some old plastic trophies we have collected (not been awarded).

  37. Andie says:

    Super Cool, you gotta love a manly craft!

  38. Dmarie says:

    repurposing at its finest! wish I’d seen this before I called everywhere to see if anyone would take DD’s unwanted trophies (no one would) and then broke down and recycled the pieces. It would have been such fun to re-gift her with a rack of her own trophies!!

  39. Oh my goodness! My sister is currently making a “floating book shelf”, and I think this would match that idea perfectly!

    Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  40. Love this idea! Takes something that would otherwise be a white elephant and makes it into something useful! I’m going to retweet……..

  41. Jecca says:

    Such a great way to upcycle and repurpose these old trophies! I, too, have made a version of these and paired them with Anthropologie knobs as a second hanger.

  42. Gara Guzu says:

    There is an magazine called “evim” in Turkey. They have posted this tutorial as if their own in their January 2012 issue. I have came accross to their this kind of infringements before. If there is anything you can do to avoid this kind of steal, please do. I love your site and work, and i follow it everyday. (My name stated below is made up, sorry :(

  43. Gaby says:

    Awesome idea!

  44. Meg says:

    What a great idea for a man’s 50th birthday gift or from father to son….we took apart 8 trophies today to do this project for my 10 yr old boy’s room. All his dads trophies were just sitting in abox. Very nice keepsake.

  45. Patricia says:

    I found lots of old soccer trophies and I want to make a small hanger as a gift for my daughter who played soccer in her younger years! Thank you for the instructions!


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