Making A Covered Lumber Rack Workshop Projects

My shop is not very big, just 13 feet wide and 27 feet long (4 meters x 8 meters), and an ongoing problem that I’ve had to deal with is lumber storage. As shown in this photo while making my new shop lighting, my current solution to the problem is not a very attractive or space efficient:

I did build my scrap wood cabinet and that takes care of the smaller pieces, but I’ve resisted the typical open lumber rack for the longer stock. Open lumber racks collect dust like crazy and don’t look good, unless you have stacks of the same size boards that are neatly stickered. Of course what I have happening in the picture above doesn’t look good, either.

I recently decided to keep this shop, rather than building a new one, so I’ve started to make shop optimization projects with that in mind. Previously, the idea that I would eventually move out of this shop has kept me from putting the time and effort into these projects, and the first of these will address the mess at the front of the shop – in particular, the lumber storage.

To get started, I worked up a basic design for the rack. I don’t use or need a lot of longer lumber on hand, so I kept that in mind while planning the size. I figured the absolute longest stock would be 10′, so I designed the rack to be just a bit longer than that on the inside. The depth of the shelves is enough for two 2×4’s side by side – 7-1/2″. That will also easily accommodate 6″ rough hardwood.
The material I decided to use to build this rack is just plain 1/2″ particle board. Not only is it one of the lowest cost options, it also stays flatter than low cost plywood and takes paint well.

First step was to cut the full sheets down into strips that make up the shelves and back. The sheets are 97″ long and I cut pieces that are 24″ long to add to them to make up the total length:

I joined the parts with construction adhesive and these small hinges used as temporary mending plates to hold the parts together during assembly:

After the “U” shaped sections are put together, I will remove the hinges.

To assemble a “U” shaped section, I started with the back, then added a temporary brace (just a square of scrap plywood) to support the upper and lower shelf while they are fastened to the back panel. I’m using construction adhesive and 1-1/4″ brads to join the parts:

After the “U” shaped sections are put together, I added solid wood banding to the front edge. This adds durability and some depth to the shelves, and also bridges the seam where the panels are extended. Once again, I used construction adhesive and brads to fasten the edge banding:

Before mounting the “U” sections up on the wall, I added props to the front edge for support. These will be removed after the shelf units are up and the end panels fixed in place:

So maybe now is a good time to talk about why I made the rack this way. Since I would be doing this alone, I needed to make it in sections that I could lift and handle easily. I also don’t like how limiting an open rack would be and prefer solid shelves instead. This rack is for storing longer lumber and I designed it exactly for that, and didn’t waste time or material to overbuild it.
Making all of the parts (shelves, back) the same width streamlines the build, and as usual I didn’t waste time on fancy joinery when simple joinery using strong glue will suffice.

The two “U” sections mounted with the end panels fastened in place:

Note that there are no intermediate supports and that’s because this rack will only store longer lumber that will span from the supports on the ends of the unit. Also, each shelf can only hold so much stock, and that limits how much weigh will be on each one.

Next up are the door that covers it. Using biscuits and glue, I extended the sheet to make it long enough and once again used hinges for temporary mending plates:

I left this overnight for the glue to set, then ripped it into the two door sizes I need. Again, I added solid wood to the edges:

I hung the bottom door first, since it is easier and I could then use it to support the upper door. To hold up the lower door on the end, I screwed a fender washer onto the corner:

I took that off again after the door was installed.

The lower door swings down on three butt hinges:

The upper door is twice as big and swings up to the ceiling. I figure the more frequently used stock can be on the bottom shelf, which is easier to access:

The rack uses space in my shop that is basically unusable for anything else, and is low profile enough not to block the lights above. Very efficient use of the limited space I have.

I made a simple toggle to latch the upper door open against the ceiling:

And with that, the rack is done. Last thing to do is to give it a couple of coats of paint to match the walls:

And load it up:

I was able to put all of the lumber that was leaning against the wall into the rack, and as you can see, it’s not sagging or falling off the wall in any way.

I made a video of the build: