Building a Large Wet Plate Rack to Hold 10×8 and 12×10

Over the next weeks and months I will try to post some pictures and stories about the various projects I have been completing in my upgrade to making 10×8 wet plates. There are many challenges involved in moving up from 5×4 plates – everything needs to be bigger! First up, here is my plate rack project.

I designed the rack using the brilliant Sketchup. At first I really couldn’t get to grips with it, it just wasn’t immediately intuitive to me. After struggling and giving up several times I decided to watch a few excellent YouTube videos on how to use Sketchup for woodworkers. Working through the videos and making the same models from scratch myself as I watched I quickly got up to speed enough to create a model for my rack.

I used wood that was readily available to me from a DIY shop. Sketchup makes it easy to (manually) create a set of drawings of all the required components with dimensions and turn a plan into reality!

Here is my finished model with a 12×10 plate and 10×8 plate for scale:

Sketchup Rack Model

The inspiration behind the design (well, the design I copied!) was an original small rack that I use for 5×4 plates:

Original Small Rack

To complete this project and many others I realised I needed a new tool for my garage – a router. I have no idea how I managed without one. I built a custom table mount for it too (which was easier said than done). Here are some of the steps of me building and assembling the rack:

Rack build

The plates need to be held by a V-groove. This is when I realised that a router would be a definite requirement! I created a jig that would help me create straight cuts across the grain of the wood. I’m very much a woodworking beginner, trying to figure things out as I go along.

Marking out the grooves

It seemed to be working, slowly but surely. The jig wasn’t perfect – it was still hard to make a straight cut. But with slow progress I was getting there.

Grooves

I modified the jig so that it would follow the fence perfectly (by straddling it) – it worked a lot better and really sped things up!
Modified jig

My homemade router table was causing me issues so I modified it by embedding a plate with the appropriate hole and mounting points. That was hard work because the metal is *thick* and really hard to cut. I’m glad that job is behind me. It’s very solid and reliable now though.

New router table plate

Much improved:

Improved Routing 1

Improved Routing 2

Once all the parts were built I did a quick mock assemble (with clamps) to make sure all fitted together well.

Test Assembly

It did, so I went ahead and assembled it properly. It was very satisfying to see a model transform into reality so well, especially considering my limited woodworking skills and experience. It was great fun.

Assembled

V-Grooves

After a few coats of varnish:
Varnished

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