Mail Organizer and Key Rack
My daughter asked me to make her a mail organizer and key rack combo for the entryway to her apartment.
This was fun to make, and I completed it in one afternoon. A great way to reuse abandoned pallet wood. Looks rustic and a huge home decor piece.
Hope you enjoy the tutorial!
Recommended Tools & Supplies
Pallet boards or lumber of choice
Miter saw or table saw or handsaw or jigsaw
Wood screws and glue and screw driver
Drill and orbital sander
Lacquer spray or finish of choice
Hanging hardware (like for picture frames)
Although, I’m giving you all the dimensions for my mail organizer key rack (see plans above), your dimensions may vary some from mine. It all depends on the pallet boards you have on hand. And those come in many dimensions and thicknesses. So don’t be alarmed if your project doesn’t turn out exactly like mine.
You could make this project a little bit longer so you can have more than one mail trough/slot. Then you could have a true "organizer."
Step 1 – Select the pallet boards
Of course, you can use any lumber for this project, but I had some pallet boards laying around not being used. Although pallet boards look great and they’re free, you must be super selective on which boards you choose for a project.
I tried to pick boards with few cracks, the least amount of warpage, and close to the same thickness. My boards were around 1/2 inch thick.
If you’re not familiar with pallet boards and how to disassemble them, I have made a YouTube video just for that. Check it out below:
The above video shows you my simple techniques for disassembly of pallets and some other projects I've made with pallet wood.
Step 2 – Cut out the boards
Make your measurements and cut out the boards. I used a chop saw for cross cutting, and I used the table saw to true up the edges of the boards.
However, you can use whatever saws you have on hand. And you don’t have to do the true up step if you don’t want to. Remember, this is a rustic project.
PLEASE BE CAUTIOUS when cutting. Look for embedded nails and try to cut into areas that appear to be without leftover nails. I used a metal detector which comes in real handy, but I had to be careful because even the metal detector could miss a nail. If you use a metal detector like this, make sure it’s turned to the most sensitive setting. I got mine from Harbor Freight.
I highly recommend drilling pilot holes for your screws because the boards are real fragile. Glue is also a big help. And I think the glue will help cut down on future cracks that may develop.
Step 3 – Do some sanding
I used my orbital sander (with 80 grit sandpaper) and lightly went over the boards. I sanded the boards individually before assembly and then went over the whole project after assembly.
My goal was not to sand the boards smooth, but just get off any dirt or grime left on the boards. If you sand too much, you risk ruining the rustic look. So, be conservative with you sanding. Don’t forget the dust mask.
And since people will be putting their hand on the mail trough, make sure you sand off any rough edges that could potentially cause a splinter.
Step 4 – Assemble
I assembled the back board first by attaching two cross members. I screwed those on from the back. Use small wood screws that won’t extend beyond the width of the boards you’re joining. Again, drill some pilot holes to keep the boards from cracking. You could also use wood glue for additional holding strength.
After I put the back board together, I assembled the trough for the mail. Attach trough's side boards with screws from the back. Then attach bottom board on the trough.
Last step was to attach key hangers. I got these from Hobby Lobby for about $2 a piece. Had to drill the hole out some to make the screw fit. I also chose to use black screws to match the hooks.
Step 5 – Finish the project
Next, I sprayed on about 3 to 4 coats of lacquer. The can said to allow a 30 minute dry time between coats. I didn’t do any sanding between coats.
Hang the mail organizer key rack to your wall.
There are many ways to hang this. Preferably you want to anchor your holding hardware into wall studs. But I used some special screws that will hold around 30 pounds just screwed into sheetrock. And I attached some standard hangers on the back of the organizer. You’ll need a level, a screwdriver and an extra hand will help.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Please use the comments section if you have any questions or any feedback for me. I always welcome your feedback on what I can do better. Please share!
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Finished project! Hope you enjoyed the project! Good luck and happy woodworking!
Resources for this project:See all materials
Jeanne Martin on Jul 06, 2021
Love this! I've collected free pallets for a few years now on my learning woodworking journey. So I have lots of cut-offs that I've saved and should work perfect for this. (I say "perfect" cautiously cuz working with pallet wood never comes out perfect!). Thanks for sharing!!
I will definitely follow you cuz I need all the help and ideas I can get!