DIY Paint Stand/Holder

Lately I have been finishing my work area in my new workshop and decided that I needed a small stand to hold all my paints.  I looked around but didn’t find anything to my or my wallet’s liking.  Most good stands were around 30 dollars for 50 paints plus shipping and then I would have to wait a week for it to get here plus have to assemble it on top of that  So after admiring some of the more expensive set ups, I decided it would not take long to make one from scratch.  It ended up being slightly more involved than I thought it would be, but it turning out great and it was cheap to boot.  Read on to learn about a cheap and easy way to organize your paints.


Before we even think about buying supplies or getting out the tools we need to step back and examine our work area.  Space is at a premium in most people’s work shops and we must be mindful of how much space we can allot to our paint stand.  My paint stand was designed to sit flush against a wall toward the back/side of my corner work bench (as can be seen further down the page.)  I wanted to be able to see all the colors without having to shuffle through the paints, so I decided on a “stadium seating” design.  Lastly, we need to count the number of paints and the size of the paint containers.  I had roughly 40 different colors of the hobby grade paints, so I decided on space for 60 paints to allow for future expansion.

Below is a table of the paint containers I had on hand.

Paint Diameter
Games Workshop Tub 3.5cm
Americana and related 3.5cm
Reaper 2.5cm
P3 3cm
Americana Paint

Americana Paint is what this is designed for.

I had four different types of paints, this rack is made for the Americana paints and all others which share its container.  The rack will also work for Gamesworkshop paint containers as their diameter is the same.  I have modified plans for a stand which will hold 30 Reaper paint containers, but have not made it yet.  When I do, I will add those dimensions to this article.

Now that we have our measurements, we must figure out how many levels and how long to make the rack.  We start by using our measurement of how much room we have to work with.  I am willing to give 60cm in width to the rack.  This means I can fit 17 containers on one row.  I will need 4 levels to fit my required number of containers on my rack.  This is how we determine the overall design and layout of our rack.  Yours may be different, but the basics will remain the same.

Our containers are 3.5cm in width, so I decided to make the rows 5.5cm deep to accommodate the retainers as well as leave ample room for the containers.  Lastly, we must determine the height difference between each row.  I determined the best height difference would be around 3cm which would allow enough height to retain the Americana containers but still be low enough so that the Games Workshop tubs would not slip through.

Enough of the technical banter, let’s get an idea of how these measurements relate to the actual design.  Here is what we are going for:

The design of our rack.


The idea of making our own rack is to save coin.  If you do not have any tools what-so-ever then stop now and buy a rack online.  You will end up spending far more trying to make this.  However, I assume you are a hobbyist like myself who has a plethora of tools, supplies, and random building material laying all about.  If so, continue on as you may be able to do this project with scraps laying around the house.  Here is a list of supplies and tools that are needed to complete this project, remember this is for my rack, you may need more or less depending on the size you decide to make.

  • Power or hand drill
  • Screw driver
  • Jig Saw/Hack saw
  • Ruler or tape measurer
  • Pencil
  • Drill bits
  • Wood glue
  • Sand paper
  • Luan or thin plywood wood
  • #4 or smaller wood screws
  • 7 dow rods at 48″
  • Spray paint

It looks like a big list, but in reality a lot of those things are very common house hold items.  I had all the tools and only had to buy dow rods and wood screws for a total of 10 dollars and that included enough rods for another rack.


Most of the main supplies needed.

The Build

Now that we have finished our prep and maybe some slight shopping, we can now continue to the build.  The build time can vary wildly, I spent around 2 hours cutting and assembling but I was also designing as I went.  With this guide it should be much faster than trying to figure it out from scratch.  A boring weekend afternoon is all that is needed to build this rack and perhaps many more if they are needed.

First we cut the side slats that will hold all the other pieces together:

Measurements for my side.

I used a table saw to cut the initial piece and then cut the steps out with a jigsaw, but a jigsaw will do the entire piece if needed.  Afterwards, I sanded the edges smooth.  Cut the bottom piece which will be 60cm by 22cm. Now we will attach the sides to the bottom piece.  First, sit the slats on the bottom and mark the position to drill pilot holes (these are a must for the small scale wood we are using, otherwise it will split and fray.)

Mark and drill pilot holes

Mark and drill the pilot holes.

I would recommend using a larger drill bit after drilling the pilot holes to counter sink the screws for a smoother finish.  Lay down a thin film of wood glue and attach the sides, but do not tighten the screws all the way because we need the sides to flex while we add the dow rods.


Side slat attached to the base.

Depending on the thickness of your wood, we need to subtract a bit when we go to cut the rods.  I cut my dow rods to 58.5cm.  Cut the rods with your hack saw or jig saw and drill pilot holes in the ends of them.  Drill pilot holes in the sides of the slats for the rods depending on the size of your paint containers.  After a bit of time, it should look like this:

Enlarge and notice how the rods are arranged.

The rods on the top of the row are 3.5cm away from each other while the rods on the bottom of the row are 2cm apart from each other.  This allows the paint container to slide between the top rods and sit on the bottom ones.  You may find that the dow rods want to separate down the grain.  A quick fix is to lay a bit of glue in the seam and wrap it with scotch tape.  After you are done assembling the rest of the rack, take the tape off and it should be fine.  You may preemptively attack this problem by wrapping all the ends before hand and just leaving the tape on, they will not be noticed after painting.

The hard work is done!  Now we only need to hit it with some paint, in my case satin white, and let that dry.  Then we may enjoy our free-10 dollar rack and we didn’t even have to wait a week for it to show up in the mail!


The fruits of our labor! Looks nice.

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