With small creatures like rabbits, you will find you need hay storage. I'm situated in a tight suburban setting, so a hay shed is not a solution for me, but the basement floor on top of a pallet of pellets isn't a good spot either.
I don't need a lot of hay, but what I have come up with to store their food however, is a small 2 bale hay bale storage rack made up of old pallets and a few 2x4's. I had some materials left over from other projects and no handyman can pass up on useful scrap!
Let's get started!
Step 1: Plan the Job
There was a rather empty space in the cellar, next to the door and by a part of the brick foundation that stays dry. This looked like a perfect place to place a rack. The clear opening of the door from the chimney to the clear opening was 41.75". Depth was not really a concern, but estimated at no more that 30".
As built dimensions are as follows:
- The rack was measured to be 40.5" wide which fits into the space perfectly and does not impede door swing.
- The height of the rack is 5' at the rear and 3.5' in the front.
- The depth is 27" overall.
Step 2: Collect Your Tools
Tools you will need:
- Safety Glasses
- Ear Plugs
- Pry Bar
- Measuring Tape
- Carpenter Square
- Circular Saw
- Reciprocating Saw
- Impact Driver
- 1" Decking Screws
- 2" Decking Screws
- (Optional) Reclaimed Pallet Nails
Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by DEWALT, I just happen to love their tools.
Step 3: Collect Your Material
This rack was made from 100% reclaimed wood, but not all of it was pallet material. Reclaimed 2x4's from a house attachment deconstruction were used for the legs and scrap plywood was used for the sides, but only because I ran out of loose pallet boards.
You will need:
- One-two pallets, for stringers and decking boards.
- One 2x4x10 for the rear legs
- One 2x4x7 for the front legs
- (If you don't have enough pallet material) One sheet of scrap plywood, enough to make four 4"x27" boards.
Step 4: Deconstruct Your Pallets
A hay bale is roughly 16"x36"x20" so cutting a pallet in half is the most ideal solution for the rack bottom in this situation. It's easiest to cut the stringers before removing any deck boards so do that first.
- If you have a standard 4' long pallet using the tape measure and square to mark a cut line on the outer stringers at 2'.
- Do the same for the middle stringer.
- Use the circular saw to cut the outer stringers
- For the middle stringer, use the reciprocating saw to cut because a circular saw won't fit.
Save one pallet half. This will become the bottom deck of the storage rack. If you deconstruct it the deck boards themselves will not be strong enough to hold a hay bale, much less two.
Using the hammer and pry bar, separate the boards from the half pallet frame. Start with the top decks and work your way from one end to the other, being very careful to avoid splitting any of the boards. Pallet nails have spiral shanks and do not come out easily and you may end up pulling the nail heads through several boards when removing them from the stringer pallet.
Once you have removed the boards, tap the tips of the nails with your hammer to back them out and used the pry bar to fully remove them. The old nails went go into a container for disposal. The boards are separated by size into different piles.
Save all of the materials as they will be used again.
Step 5: Reinforce the Deck
Tip: Saving a pallet half eliminates several addition tasks to complete this step. Mostly because you will not have to build much here.
Using two of the stringers saved from the previous step, insert them adjacent to the strings on the saved pallet have. Use your hammer to tap the stringers in, effectively doubling up the ends of the pallet half. Using 2" screws or reclaimed nails, fix the stringers together so nothing comes loose.
The added material will provide a place to attach the faces in step 7.
Step 6: Construct the Front and Back
Note: I was lucky enough to come across a 10 foot long 2x4 in my reclaim pile. If you have one, great! Otherwise you will need to come up with two 5 foot long 2x4's for the rear face of this rack.
Measure and cut your material to create:
- Two 2x4's five feet long
- Two 2x4's three and a half feet long
Pallets are typically 40.5" wide so the front and back faces can be constructed with a lot of site measurement. The measurement for the top of the bottom deck is the only thing that needs to be taken with the tape. It was measured off at 2' from the foot of the leg.
Once this measurement is marked, lay reclaimed pallet decking on the 2x4's, spacing them out so that they start 3/8 to 1/2 away from the 2' mark, and so that they cover the legs all the way to the top. Attach the boards with 1" screws.
Repeat for the front, maintaining the 2' measurement from the foot of the leg.
Set the assemblies aside.
Step 7: Attach Deck to Front and Back Faces and Add Sides
For your safety: This part of the process is tricky and you may need a partner to help hold the assemblies in place while you work with them as they are awkward.
- Take the rear face and lay it on its side, preferably on a flat surface.
- Butt the bottom deck against the rear face, with the top of the deck at the 2' mark made earlier. Using 2" screws, attach the two assemblies together.
- Repeat with the front face.
- Carefully stand the rack up and ensure the front and back faces are plumb. The legs and middle should measure 27" apart when the rack is upright.
- Cut your scrap plywood or extra pallet decking boards to 5" by 27" and attach these to one side of the rack.
- The diagonal bracing was screwed in place, scribed, removed, cut, then reattached. It does not have to be exact in this instance.
- Ensure the rack is stable and retighten anything that may not be fully tightened.
Step 8: Move Inside and Fill With Hay!
Once the rack is complete you can move it where you need it to be. Since my rack was intended to be indoors I left the top open.
The rack squeezed right into the planned space tight as a glove, and the hay was easily placed inside. Now I have far less loose hay all over my cellar and I can even grab hay from the rack without actually going into the cellar; I just open the door.
Have you come up with an idea for a hay rack or have suggestions to improve this one? I would love to hear from you in the comments. Thanks for building with me!