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When my husband asked me to build him an ice fishing rod rack I got really excited and realized that that makes me either a rather awesome wife (at least to Joe) or weird as hell. Either way, I was stoked to actually be able to build and do something for him! Joe keeps the majority of his tools and toys in a storage unit throughout the year until he needs them and then he needs somewhere handy to keep them in the garage. I was just plain old excited to work on something that was A: not one of my own hair brained ideas and B: kind of like he was my client! I ran him through twenty questions, doing a bit of sketching as we went. I mulled the plan over in my head for a couple of weeks when he made a change: He also wanted a shelf along the bottom of it for enough head room for all of his tip ups.

Ok for those of you who do not live in ice fishing land a “tip up” is a plastic thing that sits over a hole in the ice with a line attached to it. If a fish grabs the line a little flag “tips up” and you run like hell to it and reel it in. Basically it means you don’t have to sit there holding a rod, you can just hang back and watch the flags on the tip ups. Anyhooo…. I had sketched his rack to be four feet wide and three feet tall but with the shelf added at the bottom I suddenly had a 4×4 foot pallet drawn on a piece of paper. Was I about to build my husband a pallet? It appeared so.

I gathered my supplies from the barn: a combination of wood that ranged anywhere from 10-40 years old in varying states of awesome. (What some people would call nasty I just call character.) What they all had in common was that they were 1″x2″-5″ and they were all at least four feet long. I also happened on a closet door my grandpa had stashed that was exactly 12″ deep: Perfect for the shelf. Besides that I planned to build my main frame out of brand new 2x2s I already had in my workshop leftover from building closet doors.

Step 1: Assembly

So, I started by cutting three 2x2s at 48 inches long, one in the center and one to create each side of the rack. Then I had the horizontal boards to put in place, Joe wanted one at the top, one at the center and I knew I needed one across the back where the bottom of the rods would be. (I cut these at 51″ so the 2x2s on either end wouldn’t be cutting in to the 4 feet of storage space he requested because I had already lost another 1 1/2″ to the 2×2 sitting right smack dab in the middle of the whole thing.)

From there I needed to create the “trough” his poles would sit in. With a board across the front and the back it seemed like a no brainer to me to cut a 2×2 to slip in to the bottom and secure with screws on either side. At that point Joe text me back on how deep he was going to need the trough to be so I ended up adding another board to the back and the front to give him a depth of 6″. He has many rods and they all have varying handle sizes, some of them actually touch the bottom when set in it, most of them hang by their reels. Not everyone would like their rods hanging but Joe was happy with that and specifically requested a really deep trough.

From there I ran to town to buy some heavy duty 12″ L brackets. I wanted the shelf to be strong enough without having to put extra support beneath it. I also purchased a pile of wing nuts, bolts and washers knowing full well that that closet door I chose for the bottom shelf would be hollow and thus, wouldn’t hold a screw even if I asked real nice. All in the trip cost me around $30 – the only thing I spent for the entire project. Because I had extra bolts etc. leftover I went a head and also drilled through the 2x2s and secured the L brackets to them in the same way. Twelve holes drilled later and the same amount of bolts put in place I had a rather tough shelf.

You can see from the pictures that I was smart enough to put the wing nuts on the FRONT of the 2x2s and not on the back where they would stick out and likely make hanging it more difficult. You can also see on the backs of the 2x2s I went ahead and took advantage of the other holes the L brackets offered and filled them with 1 1/2″ sheetrock screws fitted with washers. (I’ve never regretted adding extra screws.) From there I decided to stain the whole thing and give it more of a cohesive look, I knew Joe would love it either way but it still looked like a pallet to me, so I covered it with dark walnut stain by Minwax, let is sit fifteen minutes and then wiped it down. The last thing I did was date it, sign it and tell him I love him on the bottom of the shelf because: Of course I did. :)

Step 2: Completion and Use

Joe was excited and hung it up in the garage as soon as it was dry. It’s heavier then it looks and I was glad I used that hollow old closet door for the shelf just to help with the weight factor. With the extra storage he’s going to be able to use it for all of his ice fishing “accessories” from tackle boxes to lights etc. A couple of things you’re going to notice: YES, that 2×2 in the middle is warped and I just worked with it, it doesn’t bother me or Joe. NO, we have not yet figured out exactly what we want to “hold” the rods in place with. I initially asked if Joe wanted me to cut out grooves that the poles could slip into (probably on the center board) but all of his rods are so unique he would find “one-size-fits-all” grooves just a pain in the butt. Right now it actually looks like “holders” are not even really needed or necessary but I plan on taking a trip to the hardware aisle at Ace and looking at clips and things just to see if there isn’t something that would work. I’ve seen just string used wrapped around nail heads but the combination of delicate fishing poles, even more delicate line and string strung around sounds like a tangle waiting to happen…

Anyway, I am excited to report that the rack works great and Joe seems to love it!

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Bio: After fifteen months of renovation we took my grandparents' 100 year old farm, the house my mom grew up on and made it a place ... More »
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