Introduction: No Weld Truck Roof Rack

Picture of No Weld Truck Roof Rack

I've always wanted a rack for my pickup buy didn't want to pay the high price and thought I could build my own out of electrical conduit. I've used this material before for lots of things and wanted to give it a shot. I don't own a welder so that was out of the question. I settled on a straight forward design with 2 horizontal rails, uprights and diagonals and a wood slat floor. I also wanted to keep the cost around $100. in materials. It took me several weeks of a few evenings in the shop to fabricate it. Let me know what you think.

Step 1: Step 1 of 6 - Concept and Finished Rack

Picture of Step 1 of 6 - Concept and Finished Rack

I wanted a rack that would bolt to my existing roof rack. It's a Dodge accessory and just 2 horizontal bars that run in a track bolted to the roof so it's a good strong base to start with. If you don't have one, get one as your base. THIS RACK IS NOT MEANT FOR SUCTION CUPS.

Step 2: Step 2 of 6 - Making the Verticals

Picture of Step 2 of 6 - Making the Verticals

This step describes the fabrication process for all of the tubing connections involving cutting, bending and grinding. I used a 4" cutoff wheel on my hand held grinder because it was faster and easier than a hack saw. In terms of the vise, you'll need the biggest one you can get because smaller ones won't hold up, and use a length of pipe for leverage.

Step 3: Step 3 of 6 - Making the Horizontals

Picture of Step 3 of 6 - Making the Horizontals

On to the horizontal frame. When formulating the design, I wanted a clean corner that just wasn't some bent tubing and I found these cool pull through connectors that provided function and clean design.

Step 4: Step 4 of 6 - Joining the Frames With Verticals

Picture of Step 4 of 6 - Joining the Frames With Verticals

Here we see the horizontal frames joined using the vertical pieces. Again, 3 pop rivets to each connection. I found a deal at Harbor Freight on a box of 500 rivets for $3.

Step 5: Step 5 of 6 - Adding the Wood Floor

Picture of Step 5 of 6 - Adding the Wood Floor

The floor is made from redwood fence boards that I ripped in 2 pieces and planed down to 5/8" thick to minimize the weight. Each is attached with 4 1/4" bolts and special nuts that don't come loose. I found the hardware at the local home center.

Step 6: Step 6 of 6 - Completion and Mounting

Picture of Step 6 of 6 - Completion and Mounting

Finally finished, it's time to mount it to the truck and test it out for weight. I drilled holes in the existing bars and bolted it down. If you look close, you can see a piece of 1/2"plywood that attaches to the bottom rack rails and the existing rack bars.

Several steps left to do like:

Disassemble the wood floor and give them another coat of exterior varnish.
Paint the rack black.
Remount the floor.
Remount the rack to the truck.

Let me know what you think.  or


ReverendSapp (author)2010-02-05

Nice Rack! lol, all kidding aside my brother and I came across this conduit about a year ago and love it. I bought a conduit bender and the possibilities are endless. I do have a welder, it really opens up the amount of projects you can make. A real bonus is the fact the conduit is galvynized so it is very rust-resistant.

jeff (author)ReverendSapp2014-06-10

Just make sure you don't go welding any galvanized pipe - that's a sure way to poison yourself.

DennisH45 (author)jeff2016-10-15

True, good point, as the zinc used with galvanized creates a toxic fume which results in a fever. Weld it outside and use a very good fan to direct the fume away. Otherwise, you'll feel like crude for a few days. I like using conduit, too, and am considering to fabricate a 38 foot truss bridge with the stuff.

thetoolman (author)ReverendSapp2010-03-19

Yeah, I love conduit, I don't have a bender so this is the way for me. Thanks.

jamesk891 (author)2016-04-13

What is its weight bearing capacity

myke2020 (author)2015-08-09

Great job! Could the metal be painted black?

NickS21 (author)myke20202015-08-14

No it is against the law.

AndreyP2 (author)2015-06-19

That's an ultimate roof rack :). What is the weight of that one? I'm looking for an idea of a good but lightweight rack and probably yours is going to be too heavy for my suzuki xl7 :)

ScootersDenver (author)2015-04-25

You did a nice clean build. That took time with the recessed bolt heads and all. Your corners were ingenious. Very nice work.

Thanks I spent a ton of time on it. but you know these projects are labors of love.

ogmosic (author)2013-10-03

I'm finally getting around to doing this project and am wondering how the rack has weathered the last few years? Can you post a current pic?

thetoolman (author)ogmosic2014-07-27

It's been a while but the paint on the metal has faded quite a bit. Not much I can due but repaint.

thetoolman (author)ogmosic2013-10-04

cant send any photos just yet but the rack seems fine. The paint is peeling as it would on top of galvanized pipe.

dsmith178 (author)2014-07-26

ok so I took the auto correct off lets try again I used 1/2 emt it cost $70 I used curved corners and nuts and bolts it took me and my son one day to build to curve the ends we used a hammer and the floor took awhile but we did it again thanks for the idea

thetoolman (author)dsmith1782014-07-27

Glad to hear you had a successful finish.

dsmith178 (author)2014-07-26

By the way it only cost me 75 to build it

dsmith178 (author)2014-07-26

so I used your idea and made one from emt I used 1/2 inch and curved corners but I did bend them to hit over the emt no choice hammer and the floor took awhile but me and my son knocked it out in one day very fun project thank you for the idea we used it to go camping and it held ask the weight I put up there awesome thanks again

chuckr44 (author)2010-02-16

Neat idea. But the cheapest roof rack I found was $120 new 5 years ago. And they're cheaper if they are used. A $20 difference doesn't seem to be worth 10-15 hours of work.

georion (author)chuckr442014-02-20

nice ????

thetoolman (author)chuckr442010-02-17

It's not just about the cost but, for me, it's the challange of seeing if I can pull it off.

danmcclellan (author)2013-07-14

I'm thinking about making a ladder rack version of this. I'll have to post it here when I do.

jschultz10 (author)2011-11-29

I don't have an idea if this truck roof rack is better than my roof racks ( from roof racks Direct ). It is not really expensive compare to the quality of other roof racks.

MrChuck (author)2010-09-30

This is a really nice no nonsense roof rack, with excellent instruction. I have been looking for a no weld method I can use on my Jeep and will definately give this a go. Do you have a pic of the rack painted you could post? I give this finished project a 10! Great job and thanks for sharing.

nmh0105 (author)MrChuck2011-09-13

indeed, it is a really nice roof rack and great instructions. Mr Chuck as you used it already just wonder if it create any wind whistle at high speed. If not i will definitely build one for my VW BayWindows. Besides, i will consider your set-up to build a roof-top tent for camping. it will be really nice on my restoration project. I will share it with both of you soon as i completed it.

thetoolman (author)MrChuck2010-10-01

Thanks MrChuck, Just make sure that you use plenty of rivets. Sorry, no pics of it painted black but it really helps.

Thanks again, Graphicsman/Toolman

nmh0105 (author)2011-07-30

excellent work!!! but may i ask if it create load wind whistle and additional vibration when you are on road?

MrClin (author)2011-03-20

I'm going to make one of these very soon. Thanks graphicsman!

ogmosic (author)2010-05-28

I wonder which is better/easier/stronger? The welded pipe bent or the smashed riveted? Either way, yours look really great!

AronC0816 (author)2010-04-30

I have been looking for a good no weld roof rack build and I just found the best one so far! I am building a roof rack for my Datsun 1200 coupe and I think I will use this method.

inkblotz (author)2010-02-09

Very nice solid looking rack. 
Great job.

thetoolman (author)inkblotz2010-03-19

Thanks. Could you rate it?

carlos66ba (author)2010-02-02

Very well done, nice looking and seems better than most commercial racks.

thetoolman (author)carlos66ba2010-03-19

I wasn't going for taht but it took some of the design ques. Thanks

CaseyCase (author)2010-02-01

 Looks quite professional!

thetoolman (author)CaseyCase2010-03-19


SWV1787 (author)2010-02-01

I really like it...

thetoolman (author)SWV17872010-03-19


l8nite (author)2010-02-03

definately looks sturdy. Well thought out project and "ible" . I would think a couple of eyebolts would make tie downs easier but with all the tie off points they're probably not needed. Does it make any whistling noises when your on the hiway?

thetoolman (author)l8nite2010-03-19

I don't know, I'll get back to you when I use it more often. Thanks.

About This Instructable




Bio: Alan Walker a.k.a. "The Toolman" has been creative and worked with his hands all of his life. He has been employed in a ... More »
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