Tips and Tools: Enclosed Ware Rack

Keep the cats out of trouble and make room for a lot of pots in a small space, that was Erin Carpenter’s goal when she and her husband made a sturdy ware rack for her home studio. Here’s how they did it.

3 Longer and shorter shelves can be swapped out as needed.

3 Longer and shorter shelves can be swapped out as needed.

My studio is located in a small basement room (about 100 square feet). Keeping my two young cats out of the studio wasn’t an option, but keeping them away from delicate greenware was a necessity! James is a good studio cat, respectful and conscious of boundaries, places where he shouldn’t be, things he shouldn’t touch; but Sterling always has to poke his nose into everything—he’ll try to drink the throwing water, play with tools, etc. After I caught him napping on a board of freshly thrown bowls, I had to find a way to keep him out of trouble.

I also needed a sturdy system for storing a large amount of work in a small space. The ware rack designed to fit my needs takes up only 6 square feet and the pegboard walls are a convenient place to hang a few tools and inspirational pictures next to my work table.

The pegboard allows for slight air movement to flow through the box, but stops any direct air flow from windows and vents onto the pots.

The finished ware rack is kept closed with a simple hook-and-eye lock. The pegboard adds an area for inspirational images to be added.

Sterling and James have their plans for ware decoration thwarted by innovative construction


  • One 2-inch×4-inch×8-foot pine board:
    cut in 2-foot lengths
  • Three 2-inch×4-inch×12-foot pine boards:
    one cut in 3-foot lengths
    two cut in 6-foot lengths
  • Fifteen 1×2-inch×6-foot boards
    twelve cut in 3-foot lengths
    three cut into four pieces with 45°-angled ends to frame the pegboard door
  • Two 4×8-foot pegboards
  • Two 4×8-foot plywood sheets
  • Two hinges
  • Electric drill
  • Wood screws
  • Latex bathroom paint

I’m not very handy with power tools, so I enlisted my husband to help with cutting the pieces to size. The dimensions I used kept cuts and the requirements on his patience and time to a minimum. The top and bottom frames were made by screwing together two 2-foot-long and two 3-foot-long 2×4 boards. The vertical supports were made using 6-foot-long 2×4 boards. They were attached to the outside corners of the top and bottom frames using screws. To make the ware board supports, I attached 3-foot-long 1×2-inch boards perpendicular to the vertical supports at regular intervals, again with screws.

Since the basement entry is a little tight, I painted everything first, then assembled it in the space. I suggest using outdoor paint or bathroom paint that is water and mold resistant. The top frame is attached so that the top of the frame is flush with the top of the two sides, and a piece of pegboard attached on top of the frame keeps the cats out and creates a space for lightweight items to be stored. For a sturdier top that can support more weight, attach additional cross supports to the frame at regular intervals. The bottom frame is attached to the vertical 2×4 supports a few inches above the floor—just in case I ever get a bit of water in the basement. The pegboard on the side was cut to the correct height and width, painted, and screwed into place. A couple of spacers placed between the pegboard and the frames and uprights at the top and bottom, and ware board supports in the middle of the rack were necessary to leave room for pegs to be inserted without bumping into the horizontal wood strips that hold the shelves. The door is stabilized by a mitered-corner frame made from additional 1×2-inch boards, is hung on two hinges, and is secured with a simple hook and eye closure. The shelves are ¾-inch plywood boards and cut to fit the interior dimensions.

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