The surfboard situation in my garage had become out of control. Vertical storage had been okay for some boards, but I was concerned about damage to the swallow tail boards and I recently purchased a 9'6 which was too tall to store vertically. I looked around the internet and found that most DIY tutorials were for vertical racks; cool designs, but not what I was looking for. So, I came up with my own design with a few key points in mind: cost, capacity, and flexibility. Total materials cost was a little over $20 and the rack is currently holding 7 boards, although it could easily hold a few more. The boards on there now range from 6'0 to 9'6, but boards beyond that range can easily be accommodated.
This board rack makes the perfect project for a day when the waves just aren't working. I didn't time myself start to finish and I actually worked over two days, but this could easily be built and installed in a day with very basic skills.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
1/4" drill bit or similar
1" Hole saw bit (if using 3/4" PVC pipe for board supports)
Something to cut PVC pipe. A circular saw is probably overkill (and may generate toxic fumes)
2x4s (minimum 2, quantity will vary depending on your wall
3/4" PVC (figure approximately 40" per board stored)
Screws (recommended) or nails - 2.5" should be long enough
Step 2: Mark Your Holes
I decided I wanted holes for the arm supports every 4". This was somewhat of an arbitrary decision, but it worked out. With an arm in every hole, you could store a lot of boards without fins. With an arm in every other, I'm easily able to fit all my boards with fins (and bags).
I made the first mark 2" from the end, and then every 4" from there (6", 10", 14", etc). If you know you only want to store boards with fins or don't have that many boards then you can save yourself some work and just do every 8".
I wanted the holes to be centered, so I went down the board with a square and made a cross mark at each 4" mark. Keep in mind that a 2x4 isn't actually 2"x4". The actual width is closer to 3.5", so I used 1.75" as my cross mark measurement.
Note: Even with this method, some of the holes ended up looking a little off centered. I'm not sure how much of that was due to the marking and how much was from the hole sale pilot bit "jumping" off the mark.
Step 3: Start Drilling
1. With the 1" hole saw in my drill, I started the hole cutting process. I used a 1" hole saw because 3/4" PVC pipe has an outer diameter just over 1" (I think its 1.050"). This makes the hole slightly smaller than the pipe which I took care of towards the end.
2. Maybe you have a deeper hole saw, but mine wasn't able to go all the way through the 2x4. This is where I used the second drill bit. After making all of the initial hole cuts, I put the regular bit (1/4"?) in and followed the holes made in Step 1 until the bit came out the other side.
3. Put the hole saw back in the drill and flip over the 2x4. Now you have a pilot hole to follow from that side. Once you cut through to the other side, you wind up with a wooden plug that looks a lot like a wine cork. I ended up with a lot of these. Sadly, I couldn't think of anything cool to do with them, but maybe you can.
Step 4: Mount Your 2x4s
This part is really going to vary depending on your situation. You need to put some thought into this because if you don't, you risk breaking a whole bunch of surfboards.
My situation was pretty unique, but I will describe what I did. See the old 2x6 running across the top? That was already there. I really don't know why, but it ended up working out. First, I tested it to see if it could support my weight. Hanging with all my weight on the board, I couldn't detect any movement or sign that the board was even close to coming off the wall. That was good enough for me. It's been two weeks now and the rack is still going strong.
The lower board I added. Again, my situation was a little weird. You can't tell from the pics, but the whole "wall" I'm attaching to isn't a complete wall - it is more of a divider between my garage and my neighbors garage (joys of apartment living). The "wall" doesn't go all the way to the ceiling. From as best as I can tell, it was framed with 2x4s then covered in that particle board. When mounting that lower board, I was looking to attach to 2x4 frame, not the particle board.
If you have a "real" wall, you will be looking for studs to attach to. Finding them can be a bit of trial and error if they aren't exposed.
Once your upper and lower supports are in, it's time to put up the holy 2x4s. A friend will be helpful for holding the holy 2x4s in place while you adjust and attach them. I went with an A Frame approach so I can put short boards up top and long boards on the bottom. I have the holy 2x4s going all the way to the floor - I figured that should take a little of the strain off the horizontal support boards. I found some screws and nails lying around the garage that were long enough to go deep into the support 2x4 so I used those to mount the holy 2x4s.
Step 5: Cut and Mount Your PVC Arms
I realize I forgot to take some pictures here, so I'll describe as best I can.
1. First step is to cut the PVC. The length can vary with the width of your boards. I think I used about 18" for my shortboards and 24" for my long board. Remember, you are going to lose some length (1.5") once you insert the arm into the holy board. The whole width of the surfboard doesn't need to sit on the arms. I think its better to have the arms just a little shorter so they aren't sticking out past the boards getting caught on stuff.
2. Now, when you try to insert the arms into the holes you will see how much of a difference .050" makes. On a test piece, I found that I could tap the arm into the hole with a mallet. This is fine, but that will be a PITA to ever get the arm out. Sanding the pipes is one option. Another is sanding out the holes to a fit that is snug but not too tight. I used my drill with the bit pictured. I'm not sure what it is called, but it made everything go a lot quicker than sanding by hand.
3. Once the holes are a good size, you can put the arms in. I did this by hand most of the way and then tapped in the last bit with a mallet. They are secure, but still removable.
4. I put the boards in as I went so that I made sure each board had enough space. As it turned out, skipping every other hole worked perfectly for all my boards, even my 7'6" fun board with fins installed and a bag.
Step 6: Rack Em Up
That's pretty much it. Put your boards on your new rack and admire your work.
I don't know what the rated strength of 3/4" PVC is. My initial plan was to use 1" or larger wooden dowels for the arms. This would have looked classier, but it also would have added to the cost considerably.
Also, I had concerns about the PVC breaking, but I think that might actually be more likely with wood. When I was testing everything out, I tapped a PVC arm into a random 2x4 before drilling out the hole. I was unable to remove the PVC arm because the fit was so tight. Out of curiosity, I decided to just try and break the PVC out - and in that way "test" how much force it would take to break one of these arms. I couldn't break it. The arm just bent, but wouldn't break. This was comforting, although the next issue would be the arm bending so much that the board could slip off the rack and hit the ground. However, even with my 9'6" log, there is little bend in the PVC arms, so I'm not too worried about this happening.
There's many ways you can adapt this design to fit your needs and budget. This worked for me and so far I'm very pleased with it. It's nice to have some extra space in the garage with all the boards off the floor, yet they are still very accessible. I think the only real threat would be large earthquake that shook the boards off the rack. This could be solved with some bungees or rope that kept the boards from sliding out.
Thanks for reading,