Shop Storage Solutions #1: Planning the Lumber Rack

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Blog entry by HokieMojo posted 08-11-2009 07:50 PM 9567 reads 4 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Shop Storage Solutions series Part 2: Why I Need Storage & the Materials to Fix the Problem »


I’ve been inspired by the recent projects of some of my Lumberjocks Buddies (even if they don’t know they are my buddies). In particular, I’ve really liked some of the storage solutions being built by sIKE, Greg Wurst, and Spaids. This is going to be a long post, so if you make it to the end, do you mind posting to let me know if anyone is really reading? I’m going to try and do photos as I work which should be included in part 2 of the blog.

I’m planning to take a long weekend and solve one of my garage shop’s biggest problems… Lumber Storage. I’ve currently got a Triton Rack hanging on one wall of my garage. I like it, but because of the garage layout, I am out of wall space so I can’t just add another of this style rack. I’m also struggling a bit with plywood storage so after TONS of searching, I think I found a workable solution. Here is a link to a photo along with the cut-list.

ShopNotes Link


This looks SUPER simple. That’s a good thing. The problem is that this requires an awful lot of materials and before I load it up, it will weigh a ton. The plans call for 5 sheets of plywood. Those alone probably weigh 150-200 lbs, maybe more.

My goal is to make a few minor modifications to try and save materials (and money) as well as reduce the overall weight. I’m hoping that this won’t reduce the strength in a significant way and I think this can be accomplished. Finally, I want this to have some space for a clamp rack too. Here are my plans with modifications.

1) the bottom will be made out of six 8’ 2×4’s instead of 1×6 slats with plywood on top. I’ll frame it up like floor with supporting joists, but I’ll also add 2-3 diagnal joists to help prevent racking when trying to push such a large object. The stored lumber will just rest directly on the 2×4’s.

2) instead of the sides being a full sheet of plywood each, I’ll cut 1 ft strips off each end making the total length 7 ft. any plywood I store will overhang by 6 inches on each end. I think that’s ok because the stored sheet goods will still be plenty supported. I’ll just have to be careful when moving around not to run the stored edges into anything that could cause damage. The cut-off from this step will be used in step 5.

3) while I’m lopping the ends of these sheets off, I might as well take 6” inches off the top of each side as well. I just don’t think I need a 4×8 foot sheet of plysood to store 4×8 sheet goods. Rip these cut-offs a second time and I’ve got four 3”x7’ strips. These will now be uses as cleats for the shelves.

4) now i need my cut-off bin dividers. the plans call to cut these from the shelving sheets, but I think I can stretch one of the sides I cut earlier even further. I’ll admit, this may be the bigest flaw in my design, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway. I’m going to plunge cut four 9”x24” windows out of the side that will support the plywood storage and use these cutouts to make four dividers. I think it will still leave plenty of material behind for strenth in the sides, but will give me 4 of my 6 desired dividers.

5)time to cut up the two 1’x4’ scraps from step 2. The first piece will be cut into 8 equal sized, 90 degree triangles. These triangles will be doubled up to attach the wheels and also help to prevent racking of the base. the other scrap piece will be cut into two 6”x4’ rectangles. These will attached at the front of the base on the plywood storage side to prevent sheets from sliding off.

Status: So from 2 sheets of plywood, I’ve got 1 side for plywood support, 1 side for cut-off bin support, 4 shelf support strips, 4 dividers, and 8 wheel supports, and a plyood storage “lip” made in step 5. Not bad (if this actually all works).

Now that we know where we hope to be, on to the final plywood sheet. I still need 3 shelves (I’ll have one less than in the picture), 2 more shelf cleats, and 2 more cutoff dividers and a front for the cut-off storage. This won’t be possible to get from one sheet, but I’m ok with that. I’ll explain at the end.

6) rip 1 ft off the end of the sheet so I’ll have 7’ material to work with. cut the last two cut-off bin dividers out of the 1’ scrap. This will leave the only plywood waste for the entire project, which I estimate to be less than 1.5 sq feet of plywood. This along with a few linear feet of 2×4’s seems pretty good to me.

7) rip the 3 smallest shelf sizes from the sheet. Rip two more shelf support strips.

If I did my math/planning right, I’ve got everything I need with the exception of the front for the cut-off storage. This may be cheating, but I’m thinking of using some old pegboard I’ve got laying around in order to hang small clamps from. The left and right bin will probably never be used for lumber, but will instead get some clamp storage bolted onto the side.

Again, if you read this whole thing, please let me know. Even better, if you have comments/suggestions, I’d REALLY appreciate it.

8 comments so far

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3172 days

#1 posted 08-11-2009 07:59 PM

Have you tried to lay this out in Sketch-Up? You will quickly see if this will work for you as you build it virtually. More than likely you will find ways to improve on the design as well as any flaws. With that said, as well as I can picture it, I think that it will work.

One other suggestion….get you a Refrigerator box (the cardboard on the outside) and cut it to the footprint of your design (in your case include the plywood over hang) and push it around your shop. Don’t be forgiving either as wood will not bend or flex like cardboard. No thing worse than to build something of this size and find out that it is too big to be really usefull!

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View HokieMojo's profile


2103 posts in 3146 days

#2 posted 08-11-2009 08:30 PM

Thanks sIKE. The fridge box is a great idea. It all fits in the space in my head, but you are definitely right that reality could be quite different. I’ll give that a go this evening.

I don’t have sketch-up drawings, but I did lay it out on some graph paper in excel. I’m going to try and post a screenshot of the sketches this evening, but it will depend on how tough it is to get my daughter to bed. The drawings work out from an assembly standpoint, but I am a bit concerned about it’s load bearing capacity. I think I’ll be able to tell if I’m pushing it to it’s limits before I overload it though. I guess I’ll find out soon.

View HokieMojo's profile


2103 posts in 3146 days

#3 posted 08-12-2009 04:19 AM

here are the photos as promised:

I hope this helps to visualize. I don’t think anyone is reading this blog (except you sIKE, thanks) but maybe people will come back to this if I do a good job.

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3172 days

#4 posted 08-12-2009 04:51 AM

I think that I see it….the first sheet is a bit confusing, and I think I understand wht you said a strech. You can always buy a 1/2 sheet to make up the difference, or maybe a 4th sheet to make up for any opps you may have, that would cover the extra 20% you should have on hand for a project like this. If you don’t use it, it could go back or be used for something else…

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View patron's profile


13524 posts in 2759 days

#5 posted 08-12-2009 05:20 AM

sound to me like you two have it under control !
making it 7’ long makes sense too ,
as you are getting your cleats for some shelves .
over all , it’s a nice storage bin/rack .
the idea of a ” footprint template is good too ,
if you aproach all your projects like this one ,
you shouldnt have to much of a weight problem ,
as you seem to cut your things to a razors edge .
maybe just a few scraps for pen blanks ?
well thought out ,
waiting to see the results !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View brian75137's profile


19 posts in 2663 days

#6 posted 09-04-2009 12:35 AM

Sounds like a fantastic storage bin. Are you going to put together a plan for it when it’s all completed? I don’t have aroom for a cart like that in my 2-car garage shop, but I”m working on/designing a modulal hop which will end up for me as a 20 ft by 32 ft building. Everything is based on 4×8 sheets of plywood and after I get it totally put together, it will be on concrete blocks, so no permanent foundation is needed. If I ever have to move somewhere, I’ll be able to unbolt it down into modules again and truck it elsewhere. Fortunately, I have AutoCAD which allows me to scale everything I want. One of these days, I’ll learn Sketch-up and go to 3-D instead of a bunch of 2-D drawings.

Best of luck with the cart, I’ll be looking forward to seeing the final product.

Brian in Denver
(720) 480-1290 (Cell)

-- Brian now in Albuquerque, NM

View wdh's profile


55 posts in 3058 days

#7 posted 01-30-2011 02:39 PM

Just finished reading your post. Sound good, some good ideas on minimizing material used. Did you get it built and do you have any pictures? I am also looking for some way to store sheet goods and some lumber. I usually buy just what I need but still need a way to store two or three types of plywood or melamine sheets so that I can access either. I don’t have much lumber to store usually so I was thinking of using the middlle part for sheet goods as well, so mine will have to be at least 4 ft. tall plus wheel hieght. I’m thinking of using part of one side to store tools like clamps.
Thanks for the post.

-- Wayne,Saint John,NB

View HokieMojo's profile


2103 posts in 3146 days

#8 posted 01-30-2011 05:55 PM

Here are my last two posts in the series. There are several posts between this one and the two listed below so you can always scroll through those if you are interested in my build process. Good luck.

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