Introduction: How I Built a Sturdy Roof-rack for a Windsurfer/surfboard

Ok so here I am with a 200 lb windsurfer, and a lake 15mins down the road, but hardly any money. But Im not one to jump at making my own if I can buy it for $50, so I looked at roof racks and was totally gob-smacked at the price $400.00. Some-ones bound to have done this before I thought, but most were add-ons to existing bars or for guttered cars or no-way strong enough for the job I had in mind.

When it was finished, this was the business. Wood and steel, cant go wrong. Ive used it loads of times, solid as rock.

[Added]In use: It takes 5 mins to load the windsurfer and is stable at 60mph, which is the fastest Ive gone.

Step 1: List of Materials/Cost/Tools/Time

Tools: Jigsaw, saw, sandpaper, drill, grinder, glue gun, nothing special just the usual stuff.

Total construction time : 1.5 days. It took me about 8hrs actual work time, but I needed to let glue and paint dry

Step 2: Cutting Wood

Maybe its just me, but my steps start simple, and lots of pictures and then its like Im too engrossed to take a picture, oh well. Cut the timber to equal lengths to fit the approximate length on the car.

I made sure that the length of the wood allowed it to sit in the back of the car when not in use. Although you could leave it on the roof when windsurfing.

Step 3: Getting the Curves

There is one mildly technical piece to this, car roofs are not flat anymore, gone are the days a 2 x 4 sits on flat. On my Honda Civic it was pretty curved.

So using a bit of scrap wood and a marker, get the shape of the roof - see the picture. Suggest you mark the front, it can get confusing otherwise.

Next you need to curve the ends, I used my coffee cup that just happened to match the curve I needed. Draw round your mug (the cup, not your face!)

You only have to do this once, the second wooden runner is cut from the first.

Step 4: Cut the Curve

A well organized bench makes everything so much easier. Ha !!.

Using your trusty jigsaw cut out the curves. And then sand to shape.

Check it on the roof, from time to time, make sure its accurate.

It doesnt have to fit to the millimeter, a layer of plastic foam is going to provide an extra layer of comfort. I was in a hurry to get to the lake, but it was a pretty good fit.

Step 5: Cut the Holes for the Pipe

So now you need to put the steel pipe thru, I made mine a snug-ish fit. I originally thought Id screw them in place, but it is a bit unweildy, so I settled for gluing them in place with construction glue and then fortify with fiberglass.

Anyway, using a three quarter inch drill spade (to match the pipe width) cut the holes half-way thru the wood.

Step 6: Cut the Pipe to Length

Set the wood on the roof and measure the length for the pipe. Because we only drilled half-way thru the wood, make sure you allow for this when cutting the pipe.

I used a grinder to cut the pipe.

Step 7: Assemble It All

I am almost amazed I actually took a picture at this stage. Lucky really it shows a lot;

You put the pipes into the holes, test it on the car, ok, looks good, then using construction glue fix it in place.

The glue takes a while to set, overnight worked fine for me.

Step 8: Fibreglass the Pipe Joints

Although the pipes are held in place with the construction glue, I decided to add an extra level of strength by applying fibreglass around the pipe joints.

This only took about 30 mins, the nature of working with fibreglass is that it sets quickly, and Im sure a smoother job could have been done if you spend a bit more time and effort on it.

Anyway the proof-is-in-the-pudding and its worked great for 4 months.

Step 9: Paint to Match the Car

Ok, Im not sure how this happened, I had the exact match of paint, but I managed to pick the wrong can up and sprayed it the wrong color. But I was too eager to get it done and get on the lake - and the fashion police were on vacation...

Step 10: Put on the Rubberized Pipe

This stuff is great, cut to size and put it on the pipe, then you pull off the tape from the 2 edges and it sticks together. And its permanent, its been thru a lot of soaking and has never shown any hint of ungluing

Step 11: Put on a Protective Plastic Foam

I thought that the wood straight on the car roof was probably going to scratch it eventually, so I put on a plastic foam runner inches wide and glued it on with a glue gun.

I thought gluing foam onto wood would not prove resiliant to the weather, pressures and movement, but Ive been proved wrong - luckily.

Step 12: Setup on the Car

OK, we are done now.
- Place the rack on the car
- Put the windsurfer on it
- Strap the whole thing down attaching the hooks of the web straps inside the car to the roof handles.
- Jump in the car, get to the lake and windsurf
Note: I made it so that the rack fits in the back of the car

Ive been using it for 4 months now, shame its the wrong color. You will probably notice that I have a sun roof which is another problem with standard roof racks. Also, I tend to move the back strap up a bit so it goes over the wood (like the front one). This picture was taken at dawn waiting for the sun to come up so I could nip down to the lake.

Other cars? OK so this is a Honda Civic, the roof is incredibly curved and its not rectangular, and very wide, so I reckon any other car should be easier. Enjoy