How to Make a Coat Hook from a Tree Branch

by Darren Bush on January 29, 2013 · 17 comments

in Manly Skills, Projects


It’s so satisfying to create something out of nothing — to add value and purpose to something once considered worthless. This project will show you the hidden treasures in your weed or brush pile.

The crotch between a trunk and a branch is a very strong part of a tree. This strength makes a hook created from this section of the tree functional as well as aesthetic. These rustic hooks are simple to make and suitable for use in a barn, garage, or in this case, near the back door. The best part of this project is that the raw materials will cost you nothing aside from the little time it will take to scrounge them.

You could quickly make a whole bunch of these and use them to line the wall in your coatroom or closet. A friend of mine did just that in his sauna. The natural wooden hooks are the perfect accent to the all-cedar hot-room, where metal or plastic hooks would look horribly out of place.


  • Piece of tree limb (1″-3″ in diameter) with smaller branch (1/4″-1/2″ in diameter) forking off at 45-degree angle
  • Loping shears or small pruning saw
  • Woodworking vise
  • Standard compass
  • Pencil
  • Japanese pull saw
  • Small block plane
  • Back saw (optional)
  • Drill
  • Drywall screw
  • Pocketknife (optional)

Selecting Raw Materials


After you make a few of these hooks, you’ll find that every brush pile or weed tree will start to look like a pile of hooks. “Weed” trees are great for this project—silver maples, box elders, or buckthorn are exceptional. After the leaves drop and people thin out their trees, you’ll find a lot of material even on the curbside. Avoid conifers; their sticky sap will gum up your tools, and get pine pitch on anything you hang on them.

To choose good stock, look for wood that is 1-3 inches in diameter, with branches that are about a third to a quarter of the diameter of the main piece. Most of the branches will fork off about 45 degrees upward, which is perfect for your hook.

How to Make the Coat Hook


Step 1

Step 1: Harvest wood for the hook. Use a good pair of loping shears or a small pruning saw to harvest the wood for the hooks. Cut everything too long; it’s much easier to trim rather than trying to add wood later. The finished dimensions of the hook vary, but to give you an idea, the one I’m building here is about 4 inches long and the hook branch is about 1.5 inches. If the finished size is going to be 4 to 5 inches long, cut an 8-10-inch section of wood. If you come across a good bunch of branches, keep cutting blanks until you run out of arms to carry them.


Step 2

Step 2: Secure blank in vise. Put your blank tree branch in a vise with the prong of the hook pointing straight down. A woodworking vise like this one allows you to get a good view of your work so you can make sure the branch that will be the hook is pointing straight down.


Step 3

Step 3: Mark off the backside to be cut away. A standard compass will work well to mark off a line to cut in order to create a flat back for your hook. Your vise provides a level surface, which you can use as a reference to ensure an even, level mark. Scribe the line using a compass, as shown in the photo. You want to scribe both sides to make sure the back of your hook will be flat against the wall with your coat-hook pointing out 45 degrees from the surface of the wall.


Step 4

Step 4: Cut away back of blank. Reposition the blank in the vise with the end facing up. Then start cutting slowly, making sure that the blade of the saw is cutting straight down your line. I prefer to use a Japanese pull saw, which has a very thin blade and cuts smoothly. Your cut doesn’t have to be perfect, but the more perfect it is, the less planing or sanding you will have to do in the next step. It should look something like this.


Step 5

Step 5: Plane the back if needed. The back of the hook needs to be flat so it will not rock or move after it’s fastened to the wall. In this case, I intentionally made a little mistake as I cut so I could do a little planing. A small block plane will take off any high spots, and easy does it. A few swipes should do the job. If your cut was straight, you can skip this step altogether.


Step 6

Step 6: Finish the hook. Trim the top and bottom of the hook with your pull saw or back saw. I like to angle the saw so a little of the end grain shows when looking forward at the hook. To achieve this, angle your saw away from the end of your hook, maybe 20 degrees or so. The angle creates a cut that looks cleaner and more finished.


Step 7

Step 7: Mount the hook. Drill a small hole, big enough for whatever size screw you’re going to use (I just use a drywall screw), and use a small countersink to hide the head of your screw.

The bottom screw is always easier to place, as there’s no hook to get in the way. For the top hole, you may have to angle the drill slightly to one side or another. Don’t fret about the angle too much, just get as close as you can to 90 degrees from the back.

Here I’m drilling the top hole, missing the hook while keeping the drill as vertical as possible.

Your hook is done. Almost.

Barked or Naked?

You have a choice of leaving or removing the bark. I usually prefer to leave the bark on the hooks I craft. Depending on the type of wood you use, the bark might add a rustic touch, which is nice if that’s a style you prefer. In our house, rustic is the word of the day, so we leave the bark.

You can use a pocketknife to peel off the bark if you wish. Bark peels off easiest in the spring, but it shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to remove no matter what time of year you gather the wood. If you wanted to add these hooks to a child’s tree house, closet or toy room, you could easily paint them bright colors.


This is a piece of buckthorn, a weed tree I culled from the small, dry streambed near my home. I left the bark on this one because I really like its papery quality, much like birch but with a little color. It looks like it’s not flush with the wall; it’s not. I hadn’t screwed the top to the wall yet.

The next time you pass a brush pile, you may find yourself seeing a giant pile of gifts in the rough. For me, that’s the best thing about these hooks. I’ve never given one of these to a person without them grinning like a kid.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dale Chavewa January 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Here’s the versatile Buckthorn wood in action as an old-style slingshot:

2 Jim January 29, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Wish you had posted this before I threw out my Christmas tree. Maybe you should mark your calendar to repost the first week of 2014.

3 Andreas January 30, 2013 at 5:14 am

A brass screw with a flat notch would be a nice final touch.

4 Ryan Grimm January 30, 2013 at 10:17 am

For your consideration:
You can use a hand plane to get the back of the hook flat, and while it might take a bit longer than a saw, it works very well.

A plank, cut from a log or other piece of wood, can have several of these hooks on it making it ideal for a wall or entryway.

Using a narrow tree trunk, cut a few ‘feet’ to attach to the bottom, and add the coat hooks (if it needs them) to the top…voila’, you have a ‘coat tree’, in this case literally!

Willow can be woven together to make a tree, but needs a substantial stalk or trunk to attach to. Looks very nice, though.

5 Maddy Marcel January 30, 2013 at 4:12 pm

These are so cute! If you peel the bark, do you need to varnish?

6 Eric Petersen January 30, 2013 at 7:20 pm

This is by far the best way to be a man. Already have plans to use this in my shed when I actually own such awesome things. College kind of keeps you from having cool things for a while. But then again college is just so awesome!

7 Dan January 31, 2013 at 11:44 am

From the Peanut Gallery:

I would suggest stripping the bark on most tree types for this, as the bark encourages bugs and can trap moisture. Methinks the hook will last a wee bit longer, adding this step. In a dry location, probably wouldn’t matter much.

There are some barks that are actually protective, in this sense. I don’t know which, but, other readers, smarter than me, can probably fill in the gaps, there.

Nice idea. Simple, natural look.

8 Lucas January 31, 2013 at 11:49 am

The only problem with this is the bark will dry out and begin to peel. I would strip the bark and stain the wood. (food for thought)

9 Claude February 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm

One of those things that seem so obvious once someone shows it to you. Great idea!

10 Darren February 5, 2013 at 6:31 am

Interesting points! I would recommend NOT using some conifers — too sappy. Cedar seems to be fine (so far). As far as bark goes, it really depends on the species. I have hooks with bark on them that are over ten years old and aren’t peeling.

Feel free to varnish or stain…

11 Gunnar February 5, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Very cool stuff, I have some of this up at my cabin, been there for probably 10-15 years still work great.

12 jerry February 11, 2013 at 12:21 pm

I made one out of oak and it had a side branch that I can see a set of keys hanging from. I am 65 and been around and this kind of excited me. Thanks. The child in me gets easily entertained I suppose. thanks again and Semper Fidelis.

13 Steve February 19, 2013 at 9:55 am

great article!!

14 Barefoot2k March 29, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Wow, that would look great in my cabin up north. I’m going to make a few this weekend! Thanks for the great tip

15 Blake May 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I had a pet chameleon a couple of years ago and I made a special climbing structure for him out of branches that fell in a storm. I just had to cut + sand the sticks, and bake them in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes to kill anything that might be on them. It worked great and it felt great to build something from nature. This would be great for anyone that has birds or reptiles.

16 Clinton May 8, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I just followed your instructions and made two hooks for my bedroom and they look great! Thank you

17 Mark June 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Well I am going to make one for my youngest for his upcoming birthday, Think I might mount them on a flat board maybe 5 x 20 or so and router the edge. He will really enjoy it. Glad I found it, like the idea of brass screws.

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