Fashion a wardrobe bar?
June 24, 2012 12:00 AM   Subscribe

I've got two wardrobe boxes... without the metal bar to hang the clothes on. What's the best way to fashion a bar from which to hang my clothes in these boxes for my upcoming move?

I hang all of my clothes, so being able to use a wardrobe box is a big plus. No stores around me carry just the metal bar - they sell them along with the boxes, which I'd prefer not to buy again unless I have to. They're very expensive, and I'm only going to be moving about five miles away, so it seems like a waste of money.

I've been thinking about what might be the best way to hang clothes in this box. Rope? An adjustable closet or window rod? A dowel? Something else I'm not thinking of? And if I use an adjustable rod or a dowel, how can I ensure that it stays put?

I'd really like the solution to be sturdy, inexpensive, and not take too many hours to construct. Thanks very much for your help.
posted by k8lin to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
pvc pipe with a couple notches cut in where the box hits it.
posted by koroshiya at 12:10 AM on June 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Why can't you just use any stick-like thing you can find lying around either in your residence or on the street? Cut it or break it to a couple of inches longer than the width of the box and duct tape it in place. Does it need to be pretty?
posted by segatakai at 12:50 AM on June 24, 2012

Hit up your local hardware for a piece of dowel or PVC piping. Some shops will even cut it to size, but for your purposes, a hacksaw would help trim to box width.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:28 AM on June 24, 2012

I don't have any saws.

How would I go about attaching the dowel? The PVC pipe sounds the most promising, but I doubt that I can get a hardware store to cut a notch in it - am I right about this notion?

It doesn't have to be pretty, but I don't want it to break. The duct tape method seems like it will not hold the weight of the clothing to me. Plus, a stick could snag the clothes if it did break.
posted by k8lin at 1:33 AM on June 24, 2012

A hacksaw costs like $20 max, and is a totally handy thing to have around the house. But go to your hardware store, explain the dilemma at hand, and I bet they'll be able to help you out. Chances of this are increased exponentially if it is an independently-run store.

If notches are a no-go, could you cut holes in the sides of the box itself, and thread the pipe through? Then, wrap the protruding ends of the pipe with something - lots of duct tape, maybe those huge rubber bands that they use for broccoli? Something that acts like a flange. This threatens the structural integrity of the box, though.

You'd be surprised what duct tape can hold up, if it's done in crisscrossing layers, so the weight is pulled evenly. I don't know if a wooden dowel would work for the weight of your clothes, but if you're moving house, are you taking curtain rods with you? Wrap the tape around the rod/pipe/whatever almost like a memorial ribbon, so the ends cross over. Do it a bunch of times, both on the inside and the outside of the box. If after that you sort of hang on it and whack it around and it seems like it's not going to hold the weight, you can just cut it free with a utility blade and try something more involved.
posted by Mizu at 2:02 AM on June 24, 2012

And a hacksaw blade (only) with a rag wrapped around one end shouldn't cost more than a few dollars (more likely a buck), and will allow you to cut something if you can't find a friend/neighbour with a saw, or your hardware store won't cut it for you for a buck (or free). Many hardware stores have a scrap wood section where you can buy offcuts for a buck or so. Alternately, I would imagine that you might find _some_ kind of saw at a dollar store. Unless your move is lengthy (or perhaps even if it is), duct tape will work so long as you use a fair bit of it and make sure it is wrapped good and tight and that the adhesive is tacky.
posted by segatakai at 3:07 AM on June 24, 2012

If you can't get PVC pipe cut to fit, a dowel wouldn't be horribly too long and pokey from the box. I would just use the dowel/PVC pipe to go across the box and stick out maybe 4 inches on each side, duct tape them in place, and use the dowel/PVC pipe as a handle to carry the box.

(I am also moving about 5 miles tomorrow and my clothes-moving trick is to just keep clothes on hangers in the closet and wrap a garbage bag around about 15-20 pieces of clothes with the opening/handles at the hanger end. Tie the handles and cinch it around the hangers, take the bag-bundle out of the closet, and secure the hangers together with a rubber band/hair tie if necessary. Then you just pop the hangers/bag in the new closet, remove the bag, and you are good to go--no rehanging!)
posted by shortyJBot at 4:38 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are you near a Home Depot or Lowes? Even an Ace Hardware will sell you a pvc, wooden pole and cut it to the size you want. My friend owns a few Ace Hardware stores and they are helpful with things like that.
posted by Yellow at 5:33 AM on June 24, 2012

Either a dowel or PVC pipe would work. I'd size on the larger side of what your hangers will fit, as it'll be stronger.

If you're not too handy, here's my suggestion:

Buy a little saw like this:

Often called a "mini hacksaw" or "handysaw". It's basically a hacksaw blade with a handle. Should cost just a few bucks with a blade. Check at Ace Hardware on their "bargain tools" display or table, most Ace stores seem to have this feature.

Cut a rod out of PVC or dowel that's about 1/2" longer on each side than your box, so if the box is 18" wide, then a 19" rod.

To saw, for the task at hand, I strongly suggest using the section of blade closer to the handle, because it will be less prone to accidental "inexperienced tool user" bending. That hacksaw blade is meant to be used under tension that this tool does not provide.

Once cut through, go back, make a mark with a Sharpie or pen 1/2" from each end, and proceed to make a cut halfway through the material, to form a notch. You can make the notch wider by making a second cut fractions of an inch away - by this time you should have a feel for how to cut straight. You should have a substitute for your bar.

Both PVC and dowel are easy materials to cut, and no single cut should take you more than a few minutes once you get the hang of it. I've cut inch and a half PVC in the parking lot of an Ace with my pocket knife (which has a great saw on it).
posted by jgreco at 7:17 AM on June 24, 2012

If you are only moving in town, why not just throw your clothes in the back of your car? Use a big clean garbage bag with a hole in it as a makeshift garmet bag.
posted by radioamy at 7:44 AM on June 24, 2012

Some alternate ideas (is a cross-town move really worth this much effort? If you pack your clothes with either of these methods right before you leave and hang them up as soon as you get to the new place, they won't even have time to wrinkle): Take a piece of dowel/curtain row/something that's just long enough to fit in the box diagonally. Hang your clothes on the bar, then turn it diagonally and drop it in to the box. Since wardrobe boxes are usually taller, you can do this more than once. To remove, just pull the bar straight out, all of the clothes will still be hanging there. Alternately, you can cut a slit in the bottom of a trash bag and pull a group of hangers (rubber-banded together) through the slit- the bag will cover the clothes and protect them, and the group of hangers will be easy to carry.
posted by kro at 7:44 AM on June 24, 2012

Thanks, y'all. Heading to the local hardware store now to get some PVC pipe. Turns out I do have a saw.

I had to hire movers because of some furniture that wouldn't fit in my car, so I'd like to have them just do everything - meaning that handy garbage bag idea won't work this time, but I'll keep that in mind the next time I do a move on my own. Great idea.
posted by k8lin at 11:12 AM on June 24, 2012

I know I'm too late for k8lin but for future readers: A length of 3/4" EMT (a thin wall metal pipe used in electrical work available at the home improvement borg of your choice) a foot longer than the width of your box is ideal for a wardrobe rod. The only tool you need is a hammer and a curb.

Take your length of EMT and hold it cross wise over the edge of the curb at about a 45 degree angle from the ground with 6" sticking past the curb. Give the pipe a smack with your hammer where the EMT meets the curb. This will dent the EMT. Do the same for the other end. Now take your hammer and flatten the last six inches of your pipe until the pipe is completely collapsed and flat. Poke the flattened ends through your wardrobe box at the height you want your hanger bar (it it'll be easier if you cut the slots first with a knife). You can now fold the flattened ends down so they are flat against the box and pointing towards the bottom (IE: at a 90 degree angle to the round part of the bar). Usually the flattened EMT will bend over with just hand pressure but you can use your hammer to help it along. Secure the flattened ends of the EMT to the box with packing tape.

On some wardrobe boxes you can just lay the EMT with the flanges bent over on top of the opening of the box instead of having to poke through the box.

When it comes time to unpack just untape the bar and pull it up.
posted by Mitheral at 11:49 AM on June 24, 2012

Gah! Mitheral, that would have been perfect :D

What I ended up doing was getting the PVC pipe, and with the help of Ian at Lowe's, who cut it down to size and made the notches for me, too.

Unfortunately the notches aren't wide enough, but I think with some duct tape this will work just fine.

Next time, EMT would work much better, though, especially if your Lowe's does not have someone who is able to help you with the PVC.
posted by k8lin at 12:59 PM on June 24, 2012

Check with the moving company. The company I always use brings a few wardrobe boxes along with them. They let me pack up hanging clothes and then unpack them at the destination and give the boxes back. They also bring them because you can throw a ton of things that are too big for boxes but too small to carry one at a time - think lamps, pillows, wastebaskets, etc.
posted by bendy at 3:19 PM on June 24, 2012

Why do any of this for a move of 5 miles?
1 As many items on hangers that you can carry.
2 slip a large garbage bag over the top cut a small hole through the bag.
3 repeat.

posted by pianomover at 8:26 PM on June 24, 2012

« Older Renter's remorse.   |   Restaurants considered harmful? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.