Introduction: Truck Bed Snowboard & Ski Rack

Up until now, when I've packed up my gear to head to the mountains to go snowboarding I've just tossed my board and other gear into the bed of my truck where its been free to bounce and slide around as I drive. I decided for this season that I'd try to be more organized, so I decided to design and build a rack that could sit in the bed of my truck and keep things more secure. I also wanted to be able to haul more boards without worrying about them rubbing or scratching each other, or damage any of the valuable Faberge eggs or Chihuly glass sculptures which I often take with me. ;)

The design criteria were:

  • Hold at least 3 boards between the wheel wells of my full size pickup truck while leaving space for a large bin that I also need to store in the bed of the truck
  • Hold the boards in such a way as to not damage them
  • Leave enough space between the boards to allow for bindings
  • Be arranged in such a way that it is not too difficult to place or remove the boards from the rear of the truck
  • Rack should be easy to remove from the truck when not needed

The design I came up with is relatively simple and meets the design criteria, with the possible exception of placing or removing a snowboard being potentially difficult for a person with a shorter reach than myself. The overall length of the rack was determined by width of the bindings as placed on the board I have with the widest stance. This board, and therefore all of the others I currently own, will fit with both bindings between the end-plates.

Using the design constraints above, it became evident that there would be enough room for 4 boards if placed vertically. However, I decided I liked the idea of having the boards at an angle and I also wanted to have a place to put my skis, so I turned set the slots to 30 degrees from vertical and made the last slot wider to accommodate a pair of skis.

I think this rack would also work in a wall mounted configuration for off-season storage and/or display.

Step 1: Preparation

I designed the rack in Creo Parametric 3.0, and output .dxf files that I can open in Cut2D to generate the G-code I need to cut it on my home-built CNC router. There are essentially only two different parts: the slotted end-plate (x2), and the cross-bar (x3). I'm attaching .dxf files for cutting the parts by CNC, as well as .pdf files annotated with dimensions. The plywood I used (baltic birch, nominal 3/4" thick) has an actual thickness of 0.71", so I made the slots and tabs to account for a material thickness of 0.72". If you're using true 3/4" plywood you'll need to account for the discrepancy (you can always sand/file the parts until they fit). Also attached to this instructable are .dxf files sized for 0.75" thick material. I do not recommend any kind of particle board or MDF for this project since it is likely to get wet at some point during its use.

With the parts drawn, laid out in such a way to optimally fill the plywood pieces I had on hand, and toolpaths generated, the cutting can begin. For this project I used a 1/4" diameter upcut Spiral O-flute bit, which I run at 10,000 RPM and a feedrate of 100 inch/min. This cutter was used for all of the profiles of the parts, and a 90 degree V cutter was used for the lettered engraving.

The rounded corners in the slots are cut that way to account for the radius of the CNC router bit and make assembly easier. If you're making it by hand the corners of the slots could be squared up by hand, or one could also round over the corners of the crossbar tabs to achieve the same result. The "DMQ" engraving is in honor of the "Dig My Quiver" snowboarding Facebook group.

This project is also easily made without a CNC router. A jigsaw would be enough to cut out the parts (though a bandsaw would be better), and the assembly tabs/slots could be omitted and replaced with wood screws driven through the face of the end-plates into the ends of the cross-bars. The tolerances in the parts aren't super critical. As long as the rack isn't too twisted it should be able to hold the boards just fine, though it may not be as pretty.

Step 2: Assembly

Once cut, I sanded the pieces and used a hand router with a 1/8" quarter-round along the edges. This is not necessary for the function of the rack but does make for a nicer finished product.

Assemble the parts without glue and make sure everything fits and looks right. Once you're happy with the fit then you should be ready for glue. I applied wood glue to the crossbar tabs and inserted them into the end-plates, making sure that the tabs were fully inserted into the slots. You may need to use a hammer to help set the cross-bars, especially when placing the second end-plate. Use a piece of scrap wood when hammering so that you don't dent your new snowboard rack.

At this point I just clamped across the two end-plates while the glue dried. I thought about using screws to secure the pieces as well, but in my case everything was tight enough that I wasn't worried about the parts slipping. If I were placing screws, it would have just been a single screw into the end of each crossbar, driven up through the bottom edge of the end-plates.

Step 3: Paint & Final Touches

Once assembled, I sanded the whole rack once more before painting it.

After priming and paint, the finishing touch was to place some strips of carpet into the slots. I used some carpet remnants I had from a remodeling project, cut into strips and then glued into place with contact cement (following the general use instructions for contact cement). The carpet will cushion the bottom edge of the snowboards and protect the base and top sheet from scuffs. I placed the carpet strips in short segments - from the top edge, down and back up one slot, and back along the top edge halfway to the next slot. Dividing up the strips this way means you don't run into timing problems during assembly as the contact cement on each surface has to dry, but you only have enough hands to apply the cement to one surface at a time (unless you have friends that can help, then go nuts).

I considered making the carpet strips wide enough to fold over the sides and then staple them, but decided that I'd try it with just the contact cement and see how well it holds up. You should avoid putting staples through the face of the carpet that touches the snowboard because the staples could cause damage. Contact cement is a convenient adhesive to use in this case, since a glue with a longer set time would require some custom blocks placed inside the slots to hold the carpet in place while it dries. Since you let contact cement "dry" before pressing the two surfaces together the adhesion is instant, though you do need to be careful when laying the strips down onto the edge of the rack so that the loose end of the strip doesn't accidentally make contact in a place where you don't want it to attach permanently.

Since I only made the slots 1" wide I did have to be mindful of the thickness of the carpet that I used to line the slots. Obviously if the carpet is too thick then the boards may not fit into the slots. One could also make the slots wider as necessary of course, so it helps to measure the thickness of the carpet you intend to use before cutting the end-plates.

Step 4: Materials & Tools


  • 3/4" Baltic-birch plywood, approx. 3ft x 5ft

  • Carpet - cut into ~3/4" wide strips

  • Wood glue

  • Rustoleum grey primer

  • Rustoleum "Painters Touch" Colonial Red Gloss paint


  • CNC router (bandsaw, jigsaw, or scrollsaw would work, as discussed)

  • Random-orbital sander

  • Scissors or utility knife for cutting carpet strips

  • Hand held router (just for rounding edges)

  • Bar clamps (if needed for gluing)

Step 5: Improvements

I'll need to use this rack a bit to figure out its weaker points. I'm worried about the adhesion of the carpet strips over time, and how the rack will hold up to moisture and cold weather. I'm also assuming that the weight of the rack with boards on it will be enough to keep it relatively immobile in the truck bed, but I may find that some kind of tie-down is required.

One thing I know I would adjust would be the space between the slots. The board I have with Union bindings fits just fine, but my Rome bindings don't fold down as tightly to the board and interfere slightly with the adjacent board. If I place the board with the Rome bindings in the first slot then its not an issue, but an extra 1/2" separation between the slots would have solved this issue from the start.

This design is easily scaled for more boards, or for fewer boards and/or skis. However, if I were making a rack to fit multiple sets of skis I may adjust the design in other ways (shallower slots, vertical slots, less gap between end-plates, etc.).