This project was not scheduled to happen this week. I was actually intending to make another piece of 2×4 furniture but after getting the 2x4s in the shop I got frustrated with knowing that I would have to constantly move them around during the project. I had no place to store any of my lumber. So out of necessity I changed course and decided to make a lumber rack.
The final design was not the original design. I actually made a SketchUp video covering the initial design. Just before I left to get the materials for the lumber rack it dawned on me that it would be not only cheaper but much, much easier to use pipes for the arms instead of plywood and 2x material. I also have a free set of PDF plans for you to download at the end of this article.
For the pipes I chose 3/4” EMT conduit. Mainly because its cheap and I’m a cheapskate. I can get a 10′ piece locally for less than $5. 1/2” iron pipe was more than twice the price and if the conduit is strong enough to do the job…why pay more? I’ve read online that this particular conduit will do the job just fine but I wasn’t too sure yet. So to start I made a single test arm to see if it would hold my body weight. The arms are all going to be 16” long with 3 of those inches inside the 2×4.
The holes the pipes will slide into need to be on an angle so the wood will be less likely to slide off. I find it to be much easier to shim my add on drill press table instead of adjusting the factory metal table. This makes it very easy to return to a normal perpendicular drilling state.
And then a hole is drilled in a piece of scrap wood.
Taddaa!! It held all 180 pounds of me with no problem. I searched Google for how much an eight foot 2×4 weighs which turned out to be an average of 10 pounds. So if this individual arm can support me than theoretically it can support 18 eight foot 2×4’s. Multiply that out by the 6 arms that will form one shelf and that comes to 1080 pounds if evenly distributed. There’s no way I’m going to put anywhere near that much weight on this lumber rack. So this tells me that 3/4” EMT conduit will do the job just fine and there is no need for me to purchase more expensive pipe.
So with the strength confirmed I started the build of the actual rack. I needed my lowest shelf to be a little more than 3′ off the ground so I trimmed my eight foot 2x4s to seven feet long.
Clamping all of the vertical boards together will allow you to mark them all at the same time. Just mark the hole locations on one and transfer the marks with a square. The spacing I went with was 4” from the bottom for the first hole and 11” on center from the first hole for the remaining holes.
The closest drill bit I had to the size of the pipe was 1”. It was a little large for my liking so I added a few more degrees to the drill bit than what I was shooting for. It worked out alright.
And here’s why I love this drill press table. It would be hard to support that long of stock on the regular metal table that comes with most drill presses. In this picture I have the 2×4 clamped to the fence. This makes it much safer to drill the holes without having to worry about holding the board down.
To secure the vertical boards to the wall I used 6” washer head screws. I drilled pilot holes for these first but the drill bit wasn’t long enough to go through the full 3-1/2” of the 2×4.
So to finish the hole I drove the screws through each pilot hole and made sure it punctured the other side.
With the exit hole located I was able to countersink the back side of the 2×4. As the screws penetrate the drywall they will mushroom a little bit of material on the surface of the wall. The countersink allows room for the mushroomed material so that it won’t prevent the board from sitting flush on the wall.
My lumber rack was planned to go all the way to the ceiling so I referenced the height of all of my boards directly off of the ceiling. If your lumber rack is not going that high just screw a board to the wall below where you are putting your lumber rack and reference the bottom of each vertical board off of it.
I used two 6” washer head screws on each vertical board as well as a few 3” decking screws through the pipe holes. The pipe holes were not through holes so there was still some material left for the screws to grab to. Each vertical board is spaced 16″ on center to secure directly to the wall studs.
Next all 42 pipe arms could be cut. My cheap homemade sliding moxon vise proved to be invaluable again. I LOVE that vise!
After cutting the pipes they all needed to be deburred. A few rotations on my belt sander platform did the trick.
Finally the pipes can be installed. Do you remember from my over the garage door shelf project when I said it was a future project and I didn’t need the storage yet? Well…..I’ve got one side nearly full now.
And the lumber can be loaded up. The top three shelves are not that convenient to get to which is perfectly OK. Those shelves will be great for long term lumber storage to either further dry wood or at least get it acclimated to the shop environment before working with it. I was also able to use the scrap OSB from my garage door storage shelves on the lower two shelves of this lumber rack. This will allow me to store shorter lengths of wood that would otherwise be hard to hold on pipes that are 16” apart.
In the end I’m incredibly pleased with the results. It utilized a wasted space in my shop that I was wondering what to do with. Hopefully you were able to get some ideas from my lumber rack and are able to save a few dollars by using EMT conduit instead of more expensive pipe. As always, be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter to be notified of new content as soon as it is released. Have a great day folks!
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