Wood Rack Made From Recycled Steel Shelving Workshop Projects

While not strictly a woodworking project, this may be of interest to some woodworkers, since it is a storage rack for the wood we use.
I’m not a welder, I’m a carpenter but I do have some reasonable welding skill. I use a Lincoln Mig Pak 10 with flux core 0.030″; wire (no gas) to weld steel. My goal is to make strong, clean welds that won’t fail and at this point, I can do that without a problem.
Why weld? For me it’s simple: it’s faster and easier
than drilling holes and tightening bolts. It’s stronger too, and strength is a fairly important requirement in a project like this. Of course, bolting it together would be fine as well, as long as the bolts are of adequate size.

So, the project starts like so many of my other projects, with me taking stock of what I have on hand. The shelves are stamped steel and were a part of a rather rickety storage system that was installed in the garage when I bought my house. There are six of these, 36″; long, 18″; deep – fairly thick, I’d guess 16 gauge. These are in good shape, other than some surface rust; not bent or dented in any way.
For the standards that will be at each corner of the rack, I looked around and remember that I had some pieces of ‘Z-channel’ (Z-channel is used to install metal siding). These are heavy gauge galvanized steel and the pieces I have are more than long enough, all I had to do was cut them in half to create 2 angles. A mini grinder equipped with a zip cut blade makes quick work of the cut. The thin blade cuts without heating the material too much, thereby avoiding the distortion that can happen if the steel gets too hot:

z bar for the cornerscutting the metal

After it’s been cut, there is a very nasty burr to get rid of, and I use a sanding disk like this to remove the burr and smooth the edge, to make it so that there is no chance of being cut by the metal:

the sanding wheel

I end up with 4 corner standards, ready for use:

the corners cut

Starting at the bottom shelf, I use a plywood clamping jig to hold the parts at 90 degrees, then tack the corner:

a clamping jigtacking the corner

After adding the second shelf, I check for square and adjust as needed. I do the same for the long sides as well, ensuring the placement of the first 2 shelves is precise:

checking to make sure it is squaresquaring the rack

After the first 2 shelves are accurately in place, I finish welding the corners and add the rest of the shelves, checking for square as I go.

A word about welding galvanized steel: I do this outside, under well ventilated conditions. The fumes from this weld contain zinc oxide (galvanizing is a zinc coating) and breathing in these fumes is best avoided.

Getting the rest of the shelves installed doesn’t take long. I weld the rest of the joints and it’s ready for other work

more welding

The mark of a strong, effective weld is good penetration, without burn through. This is the backside of the 2 welds on the front, showing excellent penetration. Another weld is later done at the inside junction of the shelf and the standard, to further support the shelves:

a strong weldblocking for the wheels

Adding wood blocking to mount the wheels, and I’m using four 1/4″;-20 bolts to attach them:

attaching the wheelsthe rack fully assembled

I though that it would be a good idea to make the rack portable. Not that it will be moved often, but to make it possible to move it if the need arises.
The spacing of the shelves is 16″; from the bottom shelf to the next one up and 12″; for the rest. Extra space at the bottom puts the second shelf at a more convenient height. The overall height of the rack is 84″;. The standards project up past the top shelf to act as guard rails, to prevent
pieces of wood from toppling off.

With the wheels in place, it’s back outside for painting:

painting the shelves

Two coats of Tremclad rust paint, aluminum colour sprayed on to clean up the appearance.

With it moved in place, I drive screws to anchor it to the wall. It’s a good idea to do this, as the loaded rack will be quite heavy and tall – prone to tipping over:

screwing the rack to the wallThe rack loaded up

And here it is, loaded up with some of the lumber that will be stored there.

Mainly built for shorter pieces and useful off-cuts. I’m a bit of a wood pack-rat and don’t like to throw away a piece of wood if I can see a potential use for it. Saving wood is good, if you can find it. This rack makes organizing and finding much easier and I think it will prove to be a very worthwhile project.