Fun with coat hangers
Updated 9/3/2023

I use coat hanger wire for many things. Mostly I use it to make customized brackets. For example, brackets made from coat hanger wire hold my stud sensor, my pot lids, my binoculars, and the cup and toothbrush in my bathroom, among other things. Guardrails made of coat hanger wire keep items from falling off the shelves in my pantry closet, and a railing on my bathroom counter holds the bottles there when I'm driving. In my old rig, a hat hook near the entry door held my favorite hat, a gas cap holder kept me from leaving my cap behind, and a wire bracket kept my bathroom wastebasket from tumbling around. Coat hanger wire supported my bedroom reading light, too.

I made all these things from ordinary coathangers, cut and bent to shape with a couple of pairs of pliers. Anybody can do this, and when you need a specially-shaped hook or bracket, it's the easiest way to provide one. Let's walk through the steps involved in making a bracket for my electric screwdriver, so it'll be handy, instead of kicking around in a drawer.

Here's a sketch of how the finished bracket will look. Because the tool is slightly nose-heavy, I'm going to make a bracket that cradles the screwdriver's handle, but then I'll use a cup-hook to hold the business end, so the tool won't slip out of the bracket.

Finished bracket

I'll start with a white vinyl-covered coat hanger. Using the wire-cutting notch of my all-purpose pliers, I cut just below the place where the hanger's two arms are twisted together. (You may never have noticed that notch, but almost all slip-joint pliers have it.) Having cut both arms this way, I can discard the twisted part and the hook, which are too short to be of use to me here.

Now I straighten out the wire as best I can, so I have a nice piece about 30" long. It won't be perfect, but that's OK.

Using needle-nose pliers, I make the first screw loop, using three bends with each segment about 1/4" long. This is what I'll use to mount the finished bracket.

Sometimes when making tight bends like this, I find it helps to use both pairs of pliers: the general-purpose ones to hold the wire and the needle-nose ones to bend a short segment. That technique works especially well when you want a sharp corner rather than a gradual bend.

Wrapping the wire around the screwdriver's handle, I check the curve needed to make a snug fit.

For smooth curves, sometimes I'll bend the wire around a broom handle, a soup can or similar rounded object to get the curve I want... then use pliers to adjust to the final shape. But in this case I'll just make the bends freehand, using the screwdriver's handle as a guide.

Here's what I have so far. Now I'm going to double up the wire. It's a little more work, but it'll make the bracket stronger, and give me a blunt, rounded end instead of a sharp point.

Almost done! But the last curves are always the trickiest.

A squeeze of the pliers, and the second screw loop is complete.

Final bend

Here's how it looks with the screwdriver in place. It's easy to put the screwdriver in or take it out, yet once in there, it's held securely... it isn't going to jump out when I hit a bump!


You see how easy it is? And remember: coat hangers are cheap, so if you mess up, you can just start fresh with another one. I usually use white ones, because my walls are mostly white, but I've seen shiny gold and silver coat hangers in Wal-Mart as well... and of course there are old-style black enameled ones still floating around. All you need is a couple pairs of pliers and a couple bucks worth of hangers, and you can make all kinds of useful items. Give it a try!

© 2023 by Andy Baird.