Skip to main content

How to Build a Ribbon Holder

I am an accountant by trade, but I love to spend my free time in my workshop building different things.

DIY Ribbon Holder Tutorial

My wife and I run our custom invitation business out of our house. We quickly discovered the need to have a ribbon organizer that could hold all of the different spools of ribbon that we had on hand. I decided to build a ribbon holder and attach it to the display cases that I had built as part of our remodeling a spare bedroom to turn it into an office.

We are now able to store all of our spools of ribbon in one place and have easy access to them. One of her customers liked it so much that they wanted me to build a portable version so that they could give it as a Christmas gift to one of their relatives. The detailed plans for building a portable ribbon holder are below.

Portable Ribbon Holder Plans

Portable Ribbon Holder Plans

Bookcase size ribbon holder

Bookcase size ribbon holder

Step-by-Step Instructions for Building a Ribbon Holder

One of the great things about this is that it is an easy-to-make project that can be built in under an hour. It is also very inexpensive to build, depending on the type of wood that you choose to use.

One of the great things about building things yourself is that you can easily tweak the dimensions to fit your needs. I would advise you to use a 3/8” dowel rod if you go much wider than 20”. You may be able to get away with using ½” dowel, but that depends on the size of the hole in the middle of the spool of ribbon. You may also want the ribbon holder to be deeper so that it can hold larger spools of ribbon.

I used 1” x 8”s on the ribbon rack that is part of our office so that we can fit just about any size of ribbon. On the portable one, I used 1” x 4”s. Remember that the larger or deeper that you build the ribbon holder, the heavier it is going to get, making it more difficult to move. If you use a lot of ribbon in one place, you may want to build a bookshelf-sized ribbon holder instead.

Project Supply List

The supply list is nice and short. Try to buy the straightest board and dowels that you can. Remember that board lengths are less than what they are called; for instance, a 1” x 4” is actual a ¾” x 3 ½” board. That can make a big difference when you go to assemble the ribbon rack if you do not account for it. Here is the material supply list of what you will need to build this project:

  • 1 - 1” x 4” x 8’
  • 5 – ¼” x 36” Dowels
  • 1 – 1/8” Sheet of Plywood (2’ x 2’)
  • 1 – Small box of 1 ¼” screws
  • 1 – Small box of brad nails
  • 1 – Wooden yardstick
  • 1 – Drawer Handle
  • Paint or stain (if you plan on finishing it)

Tools Needed

The following is a list of tools that you will need to complete this project:

  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Miter saw
  • Table saw
  • Cordless drill or drill press
  • Right-angle clamps (2)
  • C-clamps (2)
  • Right-angle square
Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Feltmagnet

Figure 3

Figure 3

How to Build the Frame for the Ribbon Holder

Building the frame is a quick and easy process.

  1. Cut two 16 ½” pieces out of the 1” x 4” x 8’ board.
  2. Cut two 24” pieces out of the 1” x 4” x 8’ board.
  3. Take the two pieces that have been cut to 24” in length and put them together face to face. Make sure that the top and bottoms of each line up flush with each other. Clamp one C-clamp to the top of the two boards and clamp the other C-clamp to the bottom. Be careful not to over-tighten the clamps because they will leave an indentation in the wood.
  4. Grab a pencil and a tape measure. Determine which side is the top and write a small “T” near the top on both boards. Measure down and make a mark at 3”, 6”, 10 ½”, 15”, and 19 ½” on one of the boards. Now measure in 1 ¼” from one side and make an intersecting mark at the same level of the other marks.
  5. Using a ¼” drill bit, drill a hole through the center of each mark. Be sure to drill all the way through both boards.
  6. Unclamp the boards and grab the right-angle clamps.
  7. Take one of the 24” long boards and set it on its side. Now grab one of the 16 ½” boards, place it on its side, and line it up flush with the inside of the bottom of the 24” board. Using one of the right-angle clamps, clamp the boards together. Flip the boards up so that the end of each board is touching the table and attach the second right angle clamp to the two boards on the other side. Drill two small pilot holes from the 24” board into the 16 ½” board. Screw the boards together using 1 ¼” screws. Unclamp the right angle clamps. (See Figure 1).
  8. Grab the other 16 ½” board and position it flush inside of the top of the 24” board. Clamp a right angle clamp on each side and drill two pilot holes from the 24” board into the 16 ½” board. Screw the boards together. Unclamp the right angle clamps. (See Figure 2).
  9. Take the remaining 24” board and clamp it to the already assembled boards, making sure that the two 16 ½” boards are clamped to the inside of the 24” board. Make sure that the holes for the dowel rods line up. Drill pilot holes in each end of the 24” board and drive screws through it into the 16 ½” boards. Remove the clamps. (See Figure 3).

Your ribbon holder frame is now complete. It is a good idea to use a right-angle square to make sure that the frame is assembled straight.

Back Panel view of the Ribbon Holder

Back Panel view of the Ribbon Holder

How to Build the Back Panel for the Ribbon Holder

If you thought the last step was easy, this one is even easier.

  1. Grab the 2’ x 2’ sheet of plywood and mark off a section that is 16 ½” x 24”.
  2. Cut the section out using a table saw, circular saw, or a jigsaw. It is important that this section is cut as straight as possible. It is better to error a little short on your cuts than too wide for this piece.
  3. Lay the frame down on its face (the face is the side that the dowel holes are closest to). Place the piece of plywood that you cut out on the frame and make sure that it fits properly. It is okay if you are a little short because nobody will see the back. If you are too long, it will hang over and not look good.
  4. Attach the backing by nailing brad nails around the frame.

Finishing Touches

All that is left now is sand, cut the dowels, and add a few finishing touches to the ribbon holder.

  1. Sand the frame and backing as needed.
  2. Grab the yardstick and cut it off at 18” (or the width of your ribbon holder). Cut Make sure that you keep the side that starts with 1” and ends with 18”. Using brad nails, nail the yardstick section to the front of the top of the ribbon holder. This will allow you to measure the ribbon without even having to take a spool of ribbon off the rack.
  3. Install the drawer handle on the top of the ribbon holder. Put it halfway between the yardstick and the back of the ribbon rack. Center it width-wise as well. Mark the holes that you will need to drill and drill them with the appropriate size drill bit. Using a screwdriver, attach the handle to the ribbon holder.
  4. Grab the five dowel rods and cut each one to 20”. Slide the dowels through the holes in the sides of the frame. Each side should have about an inch of overhang.
  5. Paint or stain the ribbon holder as you wish.

Possible Accessories Ideas to Trick out Your Ribbon Holder

While writing this article, I thought of some additional enhancements that you can make to it.

  • Buy a strong magnet and glue it to the back of the ribbon holder. You can use the magnet to attach a pair of scissors.
  • Purchase knobs that fit on the end of the dowel rods to dress them up. You may want to glue them on one side, but do not glue them on both sides because you will not be able to add or remove ribbon spools. I strongly recommend that you glue knobs to one of the sides to make carrying the rack easier because you can slightly lean the rack to the opposite side when carrying it so that the dowel does not slip out of the holder.

Your ribbon holder is now finished and ready for use.

Using the Ribbon Holder

Using the ribbon holder is easy. To add or remove ribbon spools, pull a dowel rod out of one side so that you can slide the ribbon spools on and off the dowel. When finished, slide the dowel back through the hole.

As far as a strategy to make your life easier when putting ribbon spools on a dowel rod, it depends on if you glue a knob on one side or not. If you choose to glue a knob on, organize the ribbon spools so that the ones that you are least likely to use are on the side of the knob because you will have to remove all of the spools on that roll to get to those spools.

If you choose not to use a knob, then place the ribbon spools that you are least likely to use in the middle so that the ones that you are more likely to use are easier to change in and out.

This unique project will take care of your need of storage for ribbon. Feel free to contact me with any questions.


Eric Cramer (author) from Chicagoland on March 03, 2014:

Thanks VVanNess! My wife really likes hers.

Victoria Van Ness from Fountain, CO on March 03, 2014:

Finally, a way to organize all of those cool spools of ribbon that we get from Micheal's on clearance!! What a great craft! Thanks!

Eric Cramer (author) from Chicagoland on February 04, 2013:

Thank you for the congrats!

RTalloni on February 03, 2013:

Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for a very useful post. A portable ribbon case would be handy for many projects.

Night Magic from Canada on February 03, 2013:

This is a great idea. Thanks for the instructions. Congrats on HOTD

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on February 03, 2013:

Very informative hub and I really enjoy your tips about how to build a ribbon holder. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!


Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on February 03, 2013:

Very nice tutorial for a ribbon case/holder. I use a system of stacking them side by side in plastic draws, which sometimes means that I won't see what's below. This is a better way of storing ribbon for sure. Will have to try my hands on this.

Thanks for sharing, and congrats on the HOTD award!

Voted up and useful.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on February 03, 2013:

Congratulations on Hub of the Day! A very well-done project description from someone who obviously knows their way around woodworking. Your built-in bookcase-sized cabinet looks very professional, crown molding and all!

I would only add, that (especially if portability is desired,) to glue the butt joints of the cabinet, as well as screwing or nailing them together. This will make it all the more sturdy.

The other "tips" I have probably do not apply to folks without a woodworking shop, as they require more advanced tools. But, backing pieces can be let to 'run wild' a little, and trimmed to exact fit with a flush-cut router bit. ;-)

Even a right-angle clamp might not be something most folks have, so here's a tip for squaring things up. Once you have the entire frame assembled, don't drive the screws quite all the way in yet. Now, measure both diagonals. (Make sure to be consistent in measuring either to the inside of the corner or the outside with both diagonals.) The measurements should match exactly. If they do not, a little pressure can be applied at the opposite corner (it doesn't take a lot) to 'tweak' the alignment, and the measurement re-taken. When they measure the same is when you tighten in your final twist on the screws.

Great hub--great idea. Voted up, useful, interesting and shared on FB.

CZCZCZ from Oregon on February 03, 2013:

Great design. I think I may make one, but to hold fishing line instead of ribbon. During the fishing season we are re-spooling reels all the time and this would be a nice way to keep the lines separated and facing the right direction. Congrats on getting HOTD for this article, you made a great step by step how to guide.

Donna Herron from USA on February 03, 2013:

Great hub!! This idea has many uses, like holding jewelry. Love the detailed instructions. Congrats on your HOTD!

kingkos on February 03, 2013:

First view ( I thought the thing is Abacus) =) ha! good tips and information, I need many ribbons with different colors for wrapping gifts etc. I see your tips for making ribbon holder was cool. Hub of the day congrats!

Stephanie Bradberry from New Jersey on February 03, 2013:

This is a really great idea. This plan is so easy to follow that I think I might make one. I have spools of trim and ribbon for the quilts I make and the beginning of gymnastic leotards. But this plan can easily be modified too. I am already thinking of ways to add a small lip to some rungs to hold all my essential oils for the herbal blends I make.

May your business continue to see success. Congratulations on your Hub of the Day.

Kristin Trapp from Illinois on February 03, 2013:

Thanks for the directions. While I don't have a need for a ribbon holder for crafts, I can take this same concept and adjust the dimensions for holding wrapping paper and wrapping paper ribbon. Nice Hub. Congrats on HoTD.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 03, 2013:

My sister will find this to be a tool she will like to add to her collection She has a skadillion rolls of ribbon and no great way to keep them organized. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Sending you Angels this morning. And, congratulations on HOTD :)ps

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 17, 2012:

Thanks for the great tutorial! Ribbon storage is a must for so many crafty people. Having an effective organization system makes such a difference.