Introduction: Custom Windsurfer Storage Rack

Build a customizable, flexible, and reasonably priced rack system to hold a number of windsurfer boards suspended from the ceiling of your garage.

Step 1: The Motivation

When my wife came to me and told me she wanted to be able to park at least one car in our two car garage I couldn't agree with her more. I mean, this sounds like an reasonable request. Then she pointed to my current, hopelessly inconsistent and inefficient ad hoc windsurfer storage solutions here and there hanging from the ceiling. Some of these racks look downright dangerous.


Unless one is lucky enough to live in a place where is is windy all the time, most windsurfers spend a lot of time thinking about windsurfing as opposed to actually doing it .  We think about things like:

-   How can I store my equipment, so that I can i load up efficiently and quickly? This is useful on the rare occasion that the wife allows me to actually go windsurfing.  I need to move fast, before she changes her mind.
-   How can I store my equipment,  so that the amount of equipment I own, actually appears to be less?  This is useful when trying to convince my wife that I need "just one more" sail.
- How can I store my equipment, in a neat way, utilizing wasted space.

Step 2: Build or Buy?

I googled the web for an appropriate rack system to hold my 6 windsurfers.  I found a few viable options, but none seemed to give me the flexibility I desired, at a cost that was reasonable.

I decided I would attempt to build my own.  To keep the cost low, I considered building a rack from various materials:  wood,  PVC pipe, and steel.  The final design actually used a combination of all three of these materials.

I decided that a wall rack would be out of the question. The combination of available unused wall space and the size of my larger boards made this solution virtually impossible.  I narrowed in on the area above my garage doors.  There was plenty of unused space, and area allowed for future expansion ;).

Step 3: The Design

To convince myself, as well as my wife, that this was a worthy project,  I jotted down a few sketches of the rack I had envisioned.  

Step 4: Tools and Materials


Sheetrock Saw
Small T-square
Small screwdriver
1 1/2 inch paddle drill bit
Helmet (More about this later)
Black & Decker BDL170 BULLSEYE Auto-Leveling Laser (optional)
Chop Saw
Drill Press (optional)
Miter box with saw (optional)
Utility knife (optional)

Materials: ( to build one three board rack)

(2) 8 feet 2x4s
(3) 10 feet 1 inch PVC pipe
(3) 10 foot x 1 inch foam pipe insulation
(4) steel framing brackets (see photo)
1 container Framing bracket nails

Step 5: Measurement, Sizing, and Positioning

Remember, this rack is custom.   That means you determine your needs, and size the rack accordingly.

Start by measuring the vertical clearance.  This is one of the most critical measurements when the rack is to be mounted above overhead garage doors.  There must be enough clearance to allow the garage door to pass below the loaded rack. Allow extra clearance for your footstraps.  Also be aware that there is less clearance towards the "door" side of the track as opposed to the far side of the track.  I took advantage of this by making the far rack studs longer.  This allows for more space between boards and a gentle downward rack slope for easier loading and unloading

Next measure the length and width of the largest board.  The length will be used to determine the rack mounting placement and to determine which ceiling studs will be tied into.  Ideally the boards weight should be distributed evenly between the forward and rear rack mounts.  Also be sure to check for other obstructions (foot strap interference) when determining placement. The width will be used to determine the width of the rack.  Since my largest board is 24" wide, I made my rack 36".  In retrospect 30" would probably have been a bit better.  The PVC cross members sag a bit, but nothing too terrible.

Finally the rack placement must be centered between the garage door side rail and the center drive track,

Step 6: Layout

Laying out the downbrace postioning was done from the underside.  You can measure its out, do it by eye, or use laser level.  The bullseye laser level projects a line.  I used this to mark the center drive rail and side rail positions on the garage ceiling.  I put it in a bucket of sand, and then lined it up with one of the braces.  I then measured in a few inches and marked it.  This is where I located my mounts.  The ceiling joists ran perpendicular to my laser line.  You can locate them in an unpainted garage by looking for the spackled over nails.

Step 7: Build the Downbraces

Cut the 2x4 down-braces using a chop saw or handsaw.  The measurements were determined from the vertical clearance measurements we took before.  Make sure you leave 4 or more extra inches above your garage doors to be safe.  

Bore holes for the cross members.  This depends on you design.  I used 3 holes to be able to hold three boards.  The measurements between them depend on the boards you'll be storing.

Attach the brace to the 2x4 braces using the brace nails.

Step 8: Install the Downbraces

Back above the ceiling again.  We drop the braces through the holes we created earlier. I used a 2 small steel flat pieces under the part of the bracket that lies against the Sheetrock to prevent the bracket from digging in while we drive the nails.  It is probably not needed, but they help keep the brace level especially is the hole on the Sheetrock is a bit too large.  These are removed after the bracket is installed.

Step 9: Build the Crossmembers

Measuring from underneath the ceiling determine the length of the cross-members.  Make sure you leave 3 or 4 inches extra on each side for safety.  Mark and cut a length of pvc pipe using the miter box saw.  For my rack I required 6 of these to allow storage for 3 boards.

Cut the pipe insulation as applicable and slide it over the pvc pipes you just created.  There needs to be clearance on each side to allow insertion and removal of the cross-member.

Step 10: Load'em Up

Load the boards up!!!

 I left my front cross-members in place.  Roll the nose of the board up on it, lift up the back, and then slip in the rear cross-member.

Step 11: Some Final Thoughts.....

The racks work well, allowing me to load and unload the boards with ease.  You are responsible for not overloading the racks.   My lighter boards are around 20 lbs and the larger ones closer to 30.  Each rack should safely hold 3 boards.  

The cross-members sag a bit.  I don't think this will be a problem, but I will keep an eye on this.  Wooden dowels, aluminium, steel, or copper pipe probably would do a better job, but at a higher cost.  The pvc seems flexible but not brittle so I think it should be fine.

Additional storage would be nice to hold my booms, masts and sails.  I have some idea's that I'll add here after I implement them.

I hope you enjoy!  Now get out there and sail!

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