Introduction: Cylinder/bottle Rack

About: I tinker and build things at random or if a need arises. Prefer metal working and dabble in woods only if its used for building something structural. I know a fair amount of home repair stuff (installing new…

This is an Instructable on how to make a universal cylinder rack. The purpose I use it for is storing appx. 100 fire extinguishers of various sizes, as well as scuba dive bottles and SCBA bottles used on firefighting air packs.

Most standard fire extinguishers are about 24inches in height where scuba cylinders can get up to 30inches. In order to accommodate those, adjust your crossmember to 30inches accordingly. For this instructable we will use the 24inch width.

The materials and steps listed are for creating a 4 tier shelf that is mounted inside a grounded semi trailer used for equipment storage.


Step 1: Materials

List of materials used (all in U.S. measurements)

4- 2x4x10' for upright posts. (You will need at least 2x4x6', I needed 10 footers).

8- 2x4x8' (shelf runners and end members)

16- 2x4x8' (ripped to 2x2x24" for crossmembers) (will need more if you are going 30")

Alternately you can use store bought 2x2s (actually 1.5x1.5) for the same thing to save time. Cost is appx 50 cents more per board.

5lb box of fasteners to attach the 2x2s to the 2x4 runners. (I used 8P galvanized spiral deck nails left over from a decking project)

1lb box of fasteners to attach the runners to the uprights and the end members. (Used 16P framing nails that were left over from another project).

Step 2: Prepping Crossmembers

Start by ripping the 16 2x4x8s into 2x2x24" segments (pics 2-3).

Step 3: Framing

Lay out 2 2x4x8s on the floor and spread them 24" apart (outside width). Take another 2x4 and rip 2- 21inch lengths for end members. Frame the 2x4s up using 16P nails or 2.5-3inch drywall screws.

Using the 2x2x24" pieces start at one end of the framed shelf by nailing in a crossmember using 8P nails. Then measure 3inches and set another member. Measure 1inch and set another member. Alternate every other member spacing so there is a 3inch gap then 1inch gap (pics 4-8). This will net 12-15 spots per shelf for cylinder storage depending on cross member size. (2x2 vs 1.5x1.5).

Repeat this step for each shelf layer needed to accommodate number of bottles stored.

The design used was to accommodate cylinders ranging from 3.5in diameter to 8in diameter and holds 12-15 fire extinguishers varying from 10lb each to 30lb each. For smaller 5lb extinguishers each shelf will hold about 30-40 cylinders.

Extinguisher pictured is a General brand 2.5gallon water can type extinguisher 24inches tall by 8inches diameter.

Step 4: Building the Rack

After creating the shelf layers attach the shelves to the 2x4x10' uprights using the 16P nails or 2.5-3inch drywall screws. Make sure each shelf is level and properly spaced front to back. You can angle the shelves back a few degrees if there is a concern of the cylinders sliding out.

Space the shelves apart so there is a 10inch gap between the top of the lower shelf and the bottom of the next shelf up. If you measure from the bottom of the runners the distance should be 15inches bottom to bottom.

Be sure to attach/secure the rack/shelf to a wall or structure to prevent tipping. The shelf system pictured is anchored to the walls using 3inch by 3/8inch lag bolts. Weight of the entire shelf sitting empty is about 200-250lbs and is appx. 99inches wide, 24inches deep, and 50inches tall to top of top shelf.


Step 5: Load It Up

Slide cylinders in horizontally, rotating if needed to accommodate for hoses/hardware.

If storing cylinders of various weights, always put the largest and heaviest on the bottom tiers and work up from there. Pictured is approximately 95-100 fire extinguishers of different types. CO2 on the bottom, 20lb dry chem 2nd from bottom, 10lb dry chem and 2.5gal water cans on 3rd shelf, 5lb drychem and 2.5 gallon water extinguishers on top shelf.