I've been trying to set up my craft room after moving, and one of the things I needed was some way to store my spools of thread so that I can actually see what I have, instead of hunting in box after box to see if I have anything that'll work for each project. I also wanted something that didn't take up too much space. This is what I came up with:
This took a couple hours work, and because I used scraps lying around in the basement I spent a few dollars on the dowels, and that was it.
Materials: three or four 1/4" dowels (the thinnest ones at my hardware store), a small flat piece of wood for the base, a piece 2x4 or similar about a foot long, a drill, a small saw (to cut the dowels), sandpaper, and two screws
Start by marking out where you want to drill your holes. This is up to you, and will depend on what size your board is and how many spools of thread you want to store. I used a 1-5/8" interval between pegs, which turned out to work well for everything I have but the old style of extra-large coates & clarke thread (500 yd spools). If your spools are mostly smaller, or the new kind, then this interval should work fine for you.
You can do one line up each side of your board, or double up if it's wide enough. My board was a 2x3, which through the mysterious workings of the lumber industry means that it's actually only 1-1/2" by 2-1/2", so it wasn't quite wide enough for two rows of holes on any of the sides. I have a lot of thread, so I drilled holes along the corners, too. More about this later.
Mark in pencil (it'll come off more easily later!) with a cross at the center of where you want each hole to be. I just drew a line down the center of each side of the board, and then lines around it to make an x at each point. Then I marked the corners half-way between each line that goes around, so the corner pegs would come out in between the flat side ones.
When you've marked all your holes (you can see the crosses where I drew a line down the center of the board, and then the lines across the right distance apart. Drill your hole at the X between the two lines.) then you're ready to drill them.
Get out your 1/4" drill bit, and put it into the drill.
This part is where it gets interesting. Unless you want the pegs to stick straight out when you're done, you're going to want to drill the holes at an angle. Drill a shallow hole (just using the very tip of the drill bit) at each point. This will give the drill somewhere to stick, so that it won't just slide off the board when you hold it at an angle to drill the hole you want.
Make your holes about half an inch deep; if you want, you can put a piece of masking tape around the drill bit to mark when to stop. This doesn't have to be precise, and you don't have to get exactly the same angle each time-- the thread won't care. Shot for about 45 degrees, but a little variation won't hurt.
Make sure you remember which end is the top, so you don't accidentally drill holes going both directions. Also, pay attention to where the drill is going to go in case it slips-- you don't want to run into your hand or your pretty coffee table by accident.
Corners! There are two important things about corners:
1) your drill is not going to want to stick to them. Take your sandpaper and flatten off the edge of the board enough so that you can drill your starting indentation.
2) Sometimes, the wood splits (like in the picture above.) This is when it's time to cut your losses and move on to the next hole; if you keep drilling, you're just going to split the wood more.
Done? Sand it down to get rid of all your pencil marks and the fluffy edges of your holes. If you want to put finish or paint on it, this wouldn't be a bad time to do so; you can coat all the pieces (including the dowels) and sand them down for a second coat pretty easily.
Ok, now we're on to the pegs. Use your favorite method to cut your dowels into roughly 2" segments. I used a hand saw and a jig (see the mark I made at 2" along the near side of the jig?) but there are a lot of power tools that would make this faster and easier. Use what you've got. Remember that you loose a little bit each time you make a cut; each of my 3 foot long dowels ended up yielding 16 even length pegs and one slightly longer one.
If you're doing this by hand, be prepared for it to be somewhat tedious, and take a while.
When you're done (finally!) cutting pegs, you can stick them into the holes you drilled. They should fit fairly snugly; I didn't bother to use glue at all. If you've got any ends that came out looking really uneven when you cut them, you can make sure to put that side in so no one will see them.
Of course, if (unlike me) you're more clever than you are impatient, you might actually want to wait and attach the base first, before you put in all your pegs...
Next, you want to attach the base. Thread isn't too heavy, so it's entirely possible that a bunch of wood glue would work here, but I went for something a little more sturdy:
Take two screws that are at least twice as long as the base is thick. (ones where the head is flat will work best!) Find a drill bit that is just as wide as the base of the screws, but NOT as wide as the threads:
Trace the bottom of your shaft (the piece you just drilled all the holes in) onto the base, and drill two holes through it where you want to put your screws:
Then line up the base and the shaft so that you can see wood through the holes and tell you'll be drilling in the right place, and drill through both layers. If you're feeling classy, you can also get a larger drill bit and drill a shallow hole on the bottom side of the base to counter-sink the heads of the screws, so they won't stick out enough to rub your tabletop. Then screw it all together and put in any of the pegs you haven't attached yet.
I came up a couple pegs short, but it didn't bother me enough to go buy another dowel...
Decorate as desired, fill with thread, and enjoy!