Canadian Woodworking

Lumber rack

Author: John Chambers
Published: June July 2003

I needed an inexpensive way to store rough lumber and strips of cut material.


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Piling lumber on or near the floor took up too much space, and it always seemed that whenever I needed lumber, the piece I needed was always at the bottom.

There were ready-made wall systems available, but they seemed a bit too expensive. I worked out the expenses for me to make something myself, and decided to build my own lumber storage rack.

I used 2 x 4s as the main vertical supports and steel pipe for the doweling that holds the materials.

Wooden dowels need to be at least ¾” thick and are hard to match to a common drill or Forstner bit. That’s why I used steel poles.

4” long, 4-hole metal strap

Building The Rack

Use 10′ lengths of 1-1/4″ fence top rail. Cut these into pieces, and insert them into pre-drilled holes, spaced one foot apart along the 8′ long 2 x 4s.

Gang up the seven 2 x 4s, side by side, with the 1-1/2″ edges facing up.

Mark on one 2 x 4 the hole locations you prefer. I started 12″ from one end and marked off seven locations, 12” apart.

With a square, extend your marks across all faces. With a 1-1/4″ Forstner bit, mounted in a drill press, or carefully guided with a hand drill, drill out all 49 holes approximately 3-1/2″ deep.

Make sure your drill bit is centred so that enough material is left on each side of the hole. You can put an angle on these holes if you like, but if you do, be careful to drill all the holes at the same angle.

Now insert all cut and deburred pipe into the holes.

If you use new lumber, the pipe can be twisted or tapped in and, when the 2 x 4 dries, it will shrink and capture the pipe.

A variation is to use dry lumber, drill additional holes for different spacing, and move the dowel locations as required.

Mounting The Rack

Now flip over the 2 x 4s and mount one strap 10″ from the bottom and another from the top using the two centre holes.

To mount to a block wall, use wall anchors or concrete screws in the remaining two outside holes of each strap.

For frame walls (as in a garage) you can match up to existing studs (for 24″ walls), or apply strapping horizontally and space as you like (for 16″ walls).

Make sure that 2 x 4s are plumb and all hole locations form a level and straight line.

When properly mounted, these racks will hold an impressive pile of heavy hardwood or any material you choose. To build a lumber storage rack 12′ long and 8′ high with seven levels costs about $600.

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