It wasn’t that long ago that I wasn’t really a baseball fan. Crazy, right?? I just found it dreadfully boring. Then I started going to see a local farm team and I fell in love with the atmosphere. And the food, let’s be real. Polish Sausage dog with peppers, onions, and mustard is my favorite, by the way. When I was asked to make a hat rack using baseballs as the “hooks”, I was all over it! I was sent the following picture from The Created Sign as inspiration.
I started by trying to find the best deal on baseballs by checking several online options. I found some really inexpensive baseballs but they had writing and logos all over them. That look just wasn’t going to work for me. Then I found Baden blank autograph baseballs! The only writing is a small Baden logo on one side that would be concealed when the baseballs were attached to the wood.
The best deal I found was this set of 12 (affiliate) for $30 at Amazon.
My next step was to figure out how far apart I wanted the baseballs so I could decide on how long I needed my wood backer to be. I decided I wanted eight baseballs so I laid them out on the floor with a tape measure.
The baseballs were placed five inches apart from the center to center of each baseball. I would recommend five to six inches for standard size baseballs. These were just shy of 3 inches wide. Since I was going with five inches between baseballs, I wanted to split the difference on the ends so I added two and a half inches to each side. This put my board length at 40 inches.
For my board, I wanted it to be thick and substantial. I chose a 2×6 to give it some heft and to show above and below the baseballs. I had some 2×6’s on hand that were in really poor condition but I wanted to see if I could fix that with my planer. This thing sat in my garage in the box for five months before I opened it for the first time for this project. I’ve been kicking my own butt since for not doing it sooner. This thing is a game changer! Anyway, here’s a look at how bad that board was.
I ended up cutting off the worst part there on the left when I cut my board to size. The rest of it still wasn’t pretty. I ran it through the planer on both sides a couple times and it came out so great!
That’s a huge difference and look at the beautiful grain! Planing your board is not a necessary step for this project but it’s helpful if your board isn’t looking so great to start with. I will warn you about a thing called “snipe” when using a planer. The planer just cuts a little bit deeper at the beginning and/or end of the board. You can sort of trick the planer by running scrap pieces in immediately before and after the piece you need. I couldn’t get a picture of this because the planer works so fast.
I didn’t like the sharp edges so I got out my palm router with a round over bit and went around every edge, both front and back and on the ends. It doesn’t take much time but makes a big impact.
I just free handed with the router. I’ve only used this router a few times but I’m pretty comfortable with it for the round over bit. I would likely be breaking out all the clamps and jigs if I were using a larger router. I haven’t mastered that one yet.
It quickly knocks down those edges and saves you from so much dreaded sanding. If your edge isn’t as perfectly straight as you’d like it to be, just go back over it. Once I finished with the edges, I used my sander and went over the entire board to make sure it was as smooth as possible.
On the back of the board, I made marks where I was going to drill my pilot holes. Just like I had planned earlier, I made a mark two and a half inches in from the edge then every five inches after that. This will leave me with two and a half inches from the far end as well.
Then I used my speed square to mark those lines along the middle of the board.
Since the board is a 2×6, the middle width wise would be two and three quarters of an inch.
After the marks were done, I drilled my pilot holes. It is important to hold the drill as straight as possible so that your holes aren’t crooked. I finished it up with another sanding to make sure the holes were smooth.
Now we’re at my second favorite part…bringing this to life with some color! (In case you were wondering, my favorite part is being finished.) I chose to stain the board but it could easily be painted with favorite team colors and personalized with names, jersey numbers, etc. For a good contrast with the baseballs, I went with Minwax Dark Walnut.
Using a rag, I wiped the stain on every surface. Yes, I did the back too. Although it isn’t necessary, I like to stain/paint the backs of a lot of my pieces because it gives it a more complete and finished look. With the rounded edges of this piece, I wanted to make sure that they were all covered well and it was just easier to stain the whole thing.
I only needed one coat to get the look I wanted.
Once the stain dried, I applied poly to protect it. I used Mixwax One Coat Polyurethane in Clear Satin.
Using a foam brush, I applied the poly to the top and edges. When I apply poly that is thicker like this, I like to put it on kind of thick. I don’t want big globs that are going to take forever to dry but I want to make sure my brush easily glides across the board.
Once that coat of poly was dry, I went over it all with a piece of 220 sandpaper to smooth it out. I then did a second coat of poly. You guys, this thing is crazy smooth after that second coat!
For the next step, I highly recommend a second set of hands! It will save you some frustrating struggles.
The first thing you need to do for this step is decide on the correct length screws to use. My board is a little less than one and a half inches thick because I planed it and the baseballs are just shy of three inches wide. I used three inch wood screws to give the baseballs enough support.
I drilled the screws into the board so that just a little bit was showing through the front.
This is to help get the baseball in the correct position. I found the middle of the baseball and jammed it onto the screw. While one person holds the baseball in place and pushes it against the board, the second one drives the screw the rest of the way in. If you want to make it a little bit easier on yourself for figuring out placement, you can use a spare screw to create a dimple on the baseball as a guide to lining it up on the screw.
The final step is to add hangers. Because this may be used for more than just hats, I used D-ring hangers. I just screwed them in on each end of the back.
I love the finished look of this!
It’s such a fun addition to a kid’s room, a game room, a man cave, or wherever you need a little baseball in your life.