We needed a bike rack. Bad. Like, the shop is a disaster bad. Lucky for us, we had lots of PVC lying around, so it was time to make our own!
After searching around the internet for design ideas, we settled on this
one. We adapted this design to hold 7 bikes, rather than the original 5, by simply repeating the parts for one of the bike slots a few extra times.
Step 1: Materials
We used 1/2" schedule 40 PVC pipe and fittings, because that's what we had lying around. This design would work fine with other sizes, though, if that's what you have access to (in fact, 3/4" or even 1" PVC might be better, as it would give the rack a little more stiffness).
PVC Lengths (quantity in parentheses):
(2) 23-1/8" lengths
(28) 16" lengths
(12) 12" lengths
(18) 1-1/2" lengths
[Total length: 665-1/4" or 55' 5-1/4"]
(28) PVC T-joints
(18) PVC elbow-joints
PVC cutters (you could use a hacksaw, but these were only ~$10 at the hardware store and made the job *much* easier)
Step 2: Measure and Cut Pieces
Measure and cut your PVC pipe to the lengths specified in the last step. We found PVC cutters to speed up the process quite a bit (although you can use a hacksaw instead). To use the cutters, measure your PVC to length, mark it with a pencil, then line up the blade of the cutters with your mark. Squeeze the cutters until the blade makes contact with the mark, checking that it's lined up correctly, then continue to squeeze until the handles of the cutters bottom out. Release pressure on the handles and they should ratchet back, leaving the blade where it is. Squeeze again and the blade should move farther through the plastic. Continue until the cut is complete, then measure your next piece and repeat.
Step 3: Dry Fit the Pieces
Leave that cement in the can, for now. You definitely want to begin by fitting all of the pieces together first, before you do anything irreversible. This is the time to check that you've cut enough of each size, and to make sure that all of the pieces fit together correctly.
It doesn't particularly matter what order you put the pieces together in this step. We began by assembling all of the 16" pieces into the L-shaped uprights using (14) of the elbow-joints. We then assembled the outer frame from the remaining pieces, before inserting our uprights. Check out the photo tags for specifics.
Step 4: Cement Uprights
Now that you're sure everything fits and that you have all of the pieces you need, it's time to start cementing the pieces together. This will keep your bike rack from falling apart, and will also add some stiffness to it by preventing the pieces from wiggling in the joints.
We began by disassembling the uprights and cementing the pieces into the elbow-joints at the top. We cemented all 14 uprights before moving on to the frame. Here's where you'll want to have a stock of paper towels handy. When you squeeze the cemented pieces together, you'll want to wipe off the excess glue that squeezes out.
Step 5: Cement Remaining Connections
After cementing the uprights, we began to work on the frame. Again, the specific order you cement the parts of the frame is somewhat variable, but you do want to make sure to assemble it in a way that sets the angle of all of the T-joints before the cement sets. We did this by cementing matching pairs across the frame from each other, and then inserting an upright in to hold the T-joints in place while the cement cured.
We also decided to leave the pair of matched joints closest to the center of the rack un-cemented, so that we could pull the finished product into two pieces for easier transportation. This does not seem to have impacted the stiffness of the rack too much, and makes it much easier to move in and out of the shop.
A note on cement choices: We found the blue-colored cement to be very helpful here in showing us which joints we had already cemented, and which still needed to be. For this reason I would recommend using a colored cement, rather than clear.
Once your cement is cured, you're all done!
Step 6: Add or Remove Bike Slots (Optional)
To change the number of bikes, simply add or remove the parts for one slot before cementing. Each extra bike slot would require the following additional materials:
(4) 16" pieces
(2) 12" pieces
(2) 1-1/2" pieces
(4) PVC T-joints
(2) PVC elbow-joints