Folding Squat Rack

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Introduction: Folding Squat Rack

About: I like to be a maker in any medium but I usually do my making with wood. I think our culture can be incredibly wasteful so my favorite thing to do is salvage materials from discarded furniture and use them to …

2020 started great for me. I had an exciting new job, I was living in an awesome new city and I started a gym routine which was getting me in the strongest shape of my life.

Cue March... Everything shut down overnight and I went back to being a nerd playing video games. (Not that bad actually, but let's go with it. Fitness and overall health is important.)

After a few months I got tired of watching my progress disappear and decided to do something about it. I don't have a few thousand to buy a state-of-the-art home gym, but I am something of a woodworker so I put my skills to work. I bought an inexpensive Olympic bar and weight set and got to work building a squat rack.

As I mentioned before, I'm a woodworker. The only space I have for extracurriculars is in my garage and that's where my woodshop lives so I had to make a design which occupied minimal space. I found a design from one of the popular gym equipment companies (X-Men, Silver hair streak) where the arms fold out from the wall when in use and collapse back when you need the space.

I have been using this setup for about a month now and it has been working perfectly!

DISCLAIMER: I am not an engineer. Use this plan at your own risk!!! I have put just over 300lbs of stress on this system but I am giving no guarantees. Weightlifting can be dangerous. I take no responsibility for injuries incurred. Please be safe!!!

(NOTE: The posts are straight. They look a little crooked due to distortion from the angle.)

Supplies

6- Pine 2"x4"x8' (common) framing stud

2- Pine 1"x6"x6' (common) fence plank

3- Oak 1"x4"x8' (common) finished S4S

1- Oak 1"x6"x4" Finished S4S

1- Black Walnut 1"x3"x7" (Black walnut isn't necessary. Any hardwood would work but why not get a little fancy)

2- Maple 4 1/2"T x 3 13/16" x 3/4" (Again, maple not necessary. Any hardwood)

20- 3"x1/4" SPAX bolts (you could use lags)

4- 3/8"x5" lug bolt

8- 1/4"x5"

1lb 1 3/8" screws (I use gold screws because they're pretty. You can use what you have/you can find local)

1- 2' Steel grounding rod (you just need to cut off 2- 5" portions for the adjustment bolts)

Wood glue (Use what you prefer. You'll need more than a small bottle but not much more.)

Step 1: To Build a Post...

The vertical posts are probably the simplest and most important part of the build. They will bare the majority of the weight from your fitness routine and the rest of the build will support them from falling over.

Note: I will explain how I did my build but you can adjust the measurements as you would like. I would not go smaller as we are building with wood with the intention of supporting heavy weight.

CUT LIST

  1. From the pine 2x4x8. Plane 4 boards to 1 3/8". Rip on a table saw to 2 7/8". Now you have nice edges.
  2. From the oak 1x4x8. Plane 2 boards to 7/8" to have a nice flat surface. Rip to 2 3/4" wide.

Laminate (see images 1-3)

Glue 2 of the 2x4 together on the wide sides.

Note: I could have used a 4x4x8 for this step but 4x4s have a tendency to twist which could completely destroy this project or make it unsafe.

Now that you you have a pine post, glue one of the oak planks to the pine post perpendicular to the orientation of the joint you just glued together. (You can see how all boards join together in the first image)

Now you have the basic post structure which will hold the majority of your weight. Go ahead and assemble the second post with the remaining 2- 2x4x8 and another oak plank.

NOTE: The oak plank is actually optional if you prefer to omit it. I use it as a strike plate. Realistically, you'll be hitting this area with a metal bar after every set of exercise. I think pine would take a beating over time. The oak has endured VERY well.

LEAVE CLAMPED AND LET DRY FOR YOUR GLUE RECOMMENDED DRY TIME. (I am incredibly impatient so I sunk a few screws and used a few brads to hold things in place. This could have really messed up my drilling positions later on but I... got lucky)

Step 2: Drill Your Indexed Holes for Adjustable Bar Position

(PRO TIP: Before you drill, this would be a good time to cut the height of your posts. You can leave them at 8' if you prefer. I decided that 7' would be smart. That way if I ever move it somewhere with lower ceilings I won't have to worry about it fitting in the room.)

Now we are going to drill holes in the sides of the post to create indexed positions so you can go from getting your legs "swoll" from squats to puffing out your pecs from bench press! :D

It is ESSENTIAL that the measurements you make on one post are identical to the second post. I must have checked measurements about 7 times before I drilled. If your measurements are off the bar will not sit straight and it will be INCREDIBLY unsafe!!

I set my holes centered from front to back on the post and started marking 16" from the floor. I chose this height to give some ground clearance and to make room for a bracket you'll be attaching later.

Start marking at 16" and then make a mark every 3 1/2". This will give you a wide variety of lifting heights while not removing too much material and compromising the strength of the post. (My assessment at least) Continue marking as high as you'd like. Mind you, you'll need to attach a bracket to the top of this post later on so you can not go much higher than 6 feet.

Now that you have your holes marked you can start drilling. The holes need to be 3/4" wide and they need to be completely straight all the way through. I recommend using a forstner bit on a drill press. Otherwise just do your very best. The holes being straight is critical.

Optional: After your holes are drilled you can use a router with a roundover bit to smooth the edges.

Note: If the hole is too tight for the adjustment bolt to fit through just take a 3/4" drill bit and move it side to side as you push it through the hole while spinning. That should clean it up enough for the bolt to go in and out easily. I had to do it for a few.

POSTS ARE COMPLETE!!!

Step 3: Build the Rack Blocks

The rack blocks will be the component which slides up and down the posts and holds the barbell.

NOTE: Strongly recommend using all hardwood for this component. It will take a lot of abuse.

Cut for each block:

  • 2 pieces of 1/2" plywood to 6"x3 7/8". (Use the thickest you have or can get. I used 1/2" because I had it but I would strongly recommend 3/4"+)
  • 1 oak - 2 13/16"x3 7/8"x3/4" (any hardwood is probably okay)
  • 1 pine - 2 13/16"x3 7/8"x1 3/8"
  • 1 maple - 4 1/2"x3 13/16"x3/4" (any hardwood, but this is on the front so something attractive is nice)

PRO TIP: Cut some dog ears on the top of the maple piece. Your fingers will be coming back here with significant weight behind them and a sharp corner could slice your skin or shatter a finger.

Now simply build a box with the plywood, oak and pine. (See image 1)

Glue all joints and then use fasteners for enhanced strength. I used screws in the front to secure the box to the pine but I drilled holes through the back and used 1/4" bolts for two reasons.

  • First, they will be supporting weight with leverage and I thought 1/4" bolts would provide enhanced strength.
  • Second, It the event that the block is ever damaged I wanted it to be easy to remove and replace

Note: The front piece of the box (pine) is thicker to allow room for the width of the barbell.

Finally, attach the maple to the front of the block. This will prevent the bar from rolling off.

PRO Tip: Sand the maple a lot. Your finger could get caught here one day and a smoother surface will reduce the severity of the injury.

Finally, drill the hole for the adjustment bolt to go through. I made this 7/8" to make putting the bolt through easy. Make sure this matches the location on the post (I'd give a measurement but this accuracy is vital and wood is imperfect so make the measurement to ensure the holes match up)

RACK BLOCKS COMPLETED!!!

Step 4: Lateral Arms/Post Bracket

Now make the arm that will attach to the post and swing to the wall and the bracket which joins them together.

Good news!! This step is easy.

You'll need 4 lateral arms and 8 brackets.

For each Lateral arm:

  • Laminate two 16" long pieces of pine together just like you did when making the post.
  • After they dry, drill a 1/4" hole through the back of the arm from top to bottom, 1 1/2" from the end and centered
  • On the end where the hole is drilled, cut/round off the corners so they do not create an obstruction when swinging on the hinge. (hard to see in pictures but should be more obvious in the hinge step)

The brackets are literally 3"x7"x3/4" blocks of wood. They are used to connect the lateral arm to the post. I used Black Walnut because I had some laying about the shop... and it's pretty. I cut a design into the corners and used an ogee router bit around the edges.

Attach the Lateral Arm to the Post using the Brackets.

  • It's simple as that. Use some glue and screws and attach the arm to the post with the bracket.
  • Attach the bottom arms around 10" up from the floor. This will avoid baseboard molding and provide general ground clearance.
  • Attach top arm at the top or as close to the top as you'd like. I attached about 4" from the top.

Step 5: Your Project Hinges on This Step!

Great title for this step, am I right? We're making hinges. These will allow the structure to swing in and out at your convenience.

Cut for each hinge (4 total): All pieces oak.

  • 5" tall x 4 3/4" wide x 3/4" (back)
  • 2- 3"x5"x 3/4" (top and bottom)
  • 3 1/8" tall x 2" wide x 3/4" (vertical stabilizer)

Look at pictures for reference.

  • For the top and bottom drill a 3/8" hole 1 1/4" in from the end and centered.
  • On the opposite end, attach the vertical stabilizer to the top and bottom, centered. Don't forget glue. Fasten with screws. You should end up with something that looks like a plasma rifle from Halo's the Covenant.
  • Then simply attach the plasma gun looking piece to the back with some glue. You should add screws from the back for additional strength. ( I didn't take a picture unfortunately but I probably attached the plasma gun to the backing with about 8 screws each. You want this super secure.)

Now you can drop a bolt into the hinge, through the lateral arm and through the bottom of the hinge. Secure this tightly with a nut but don't let the hinge flex too much. It could damage the wood or pinch the joint on the lateral arm which would prevent the hinge from swinging smoothly.

Hinge Stop Bolt

The bottom hinges are slightly different. (See picture 3) With the lateral arm attached and oriented straight out from the wall (use a square), drill an additional 1/4" hole all the way through the assembly. This is where you will drop a 1/4" bolt when the arms are oriented out in the operating position. This will prevent them from swinging while you are working out which could cause you to injure yourself.

Step 6: Wall Plates

Now, you could attach straight to the wall but you would only be able to attach one side of each hinge to a stud. I used two wall plates made from dog ear fence planks as wall plates. This allows the hinges to be securely attached while spreading the load across 5 separate studs.

Attach hinges to wall plates

The hinges should be attached to the wall plates 45" apart, center to center. (Do not do 45" apart edge to edge. The posts might be too far apart for a barbell.

Wall plate

Now your entire unit is assembled and just needs to be attached to the wall.

Bolt positions. Start at the very center of the plate and measure 1 1/4" from the top and then from the bottom. These will be your first bolt hole locations. Each additional bolt location will be 16" from the previous bolt.

Pro Tip: Homes in the USA are build with the wood in the walls spaced 16" apart. That's where the bolt locations go. Other countries have different building codes. Check your local building standards and use them to determine bolt locations.

Step 7: Go Lift FOOL!!!!

Now go get SWOOOOOOLLLL!!!!!

Really though. This pandemic has been a real struggle for many of us and this has been an incredible workout station for getting me back into a fitness routine. I'm certain that I'm not alone in this. Hopefully this helps some of you make progress with your health goals. Please enjoy and shoot me any questions you might have. I'll do my best to respond.

Be safe!!

Your Friends will be so jealous.

Note: I can say from my experience that this thing has performed perfectly. I have tested the setup with just over 300lbs and it hasn't moved. Be very careful if you decide to use anything higher. I would hesitate to go into the 400-600lbs range. In the future I might have a welder buddy make me some metal sliding blocks to replace the wood ones for additional strength.

Additionally, I did some pullups (I'm 200lbs) from the upper lateral arms without movement. Nice and strong

Final Note: Rub the posts down with some paste wax. This will allow the rack blocks to slide up and down smoothly without getting snagged.

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    3 Comments

    0
    katriel
    katriel

    6 months ago

    Hello Joseph, great design. This is what i was looking for.
    Do you think that lateral arms made of steel, would make a change?

    0
    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    1 year ago

    Fantastic design!

    0
    JosephR25
    JosephR25

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you!! It took a lot of hours in design and some trial and error but it has functioned really well. Not to mention I can still have full use of my woodshop when not working out!!

    I actually do a little woodworking when resting between sets! :D