Winter is a time for tinkering – cleaning gear, repairing boats, and making plans for the upcoming season on the water. In that spirit, here’s a fun building project designed by MITA member and volunteer Mitch Darrow. What an awesome idea!
“My kayak fleet doubled last summer, and I was faced with the challenge of finding storage space in the garage this winter. I had been hanging the boats on the garage wall, but this was proving cumbersome for two boats, and impossible for four. So, I designed and built two rolling storage racks for the boats and all the associated gear. One rack has hanging storage for wetsuits, paddling jackets, and a map case. The other rack has integrated paddle storage and hanging storage for spray skirts. Both have ample tote capacity for camping and other gear. Both can be rolled out of the garage and right up to my vehicle for easy loading and unloading.
Figure 1: Loaded storage rack
(1) ½ OSB or plywood 4’x 8’ sheet
(4) 2x 4x 10’
(4) 2” casters
(4) Pieces of 1” webbing x 72” length (can use webbing widths up to 1.5”).
(4) Plastic web slide lock buckles
(12”) 2” diameter wooden closet rod
(8) 2” fender washers
(8) 5/16 x3” bolts and nuts
(8) #10×3” bolts and nuts
(16) #10 washers
(50) #10×2.5” wood screws
Hooks and handles based upon your needs
Materials Cost: $50-$75 depending on your choice of building material and hardware selection. I built 2 racks for less than $100 total.
I chose to use 2” swivel casters, to maximize the vertical storage available.
The brackets on each rack have different elevations to allow the kayaks to interleave in the corner of the garage.
Take a sheet of plywood and cut three 16” x 48” panels. You’ll need 3 of these panels per rack. Each panel will be enough for three brackets, if you interleave them.
Figure 2: Rack with paddle storage
Figure 3: Rack with hanging storage
Figure 4: Bracket construction (top)
Figure 5: Bracket construction (front)
To make the arm brackets:
- Cut the bracket shape out of the panel according to the plans in Figure 6. I used a jigsaw, but a router with a trimming bit will precisely duplicate the subsequent bracket pieces.
- Drill the four holes in each bracket piece in the spots indicated by the blue circles. Use an 11/32” bit, which will fit the 5/16” bolts.
- Smooth the edges of each bracket piece with a sander or router.
- Cut the 2” dowel into 1-1/2” pieces, and drill an 11/32” hole down the center. You’ll need 2 per bracket.
- For the nylon straps, you’ll need two lengths for each boat. I found 6 feet to give me enough adjustment to get the kayak at the right elevation in the sling. Don’t forget to melt the ends. I used an adjustable plastic buckle to attach the two ends together in a loop. It provides sufficient holding power and a slim profile.
- Run a bolt through the outboard hole in one piece, through your 2” closet rod and finally through a 2nd bracket piece.
- Run another bolt through the top holes and closet rod.
- Loop the nylon strap between the two bolts.
- I ripped some 2×4 scraps and used them to reinforce the bottom and outside edge of each assembled bracket. Refer to Figure 4 and Figure 5.
Figure 6: Arm bracket template
To make the frame:
The most important measurement is the actual garage door opening height. Your rack must be constructed so that there is sufficient clearance when the rack is loaded with both kayaks. While you can use larger diameter castors, I found that 2” wheels helped me to efficiently utilize the space. Once you have your overall height, you can layout the frame. I chose a 36” measurement from the bottom of one bracket to the bottom of the second. This gave ample room to maneuver the bottom boat into the brackets.
For my touring kayaks, I found that placing the brackets at 5’ centerline provided the support at the correct locations. You will need to adjust this to your particular boats. In my case, I needed a 5’ x 2’ base. I cut two of the 2x4s into four 5’ pieces, and then cut two 2’ pieces, on from each of the remaining 10’ lengths. I then framed the 5’ x 2’ base from 2×4. From the remaining 4’ x 4’ piece of plywood, cut a skin for the base, and attach it to the 2×4 base. Attach your casters, and flip it right-side up. Cut your vertical supports from the remaining 2x4s, and toenail them to the base. Make gusset plates from any scraps left from cutting the brackets, and use them to strengthen the verticals. Use the remaining 5’ 2x4s as stringers between the verticals. Any remaining plywood can be used as surface for mounting storage hooks.
Attach the bracket assemblies to the verticals, being sure to keep each level with the floor, and at the same vertical height. Make sure to leave a little space for the webbing between the upper roller and the vertical frame.
Figure 7: Low profile hooks for hanging gear
Figure 8: Boat resting in the sling does not touch the bracket
On one rack, I used a large diameter hole saw with a 2” cutting depth to bore holes through the 2×4 stringer. This created an efficient storage system for my paddles. Refer to Figure 9. On the other rack, I used 3” hex bolts with extra nuts and washers to create low profile hooks for my pfds and wet suits. Refer to Figure 7. These worked well in my limited space and allowed me to store the racks in the garage tight against the walls. Feel free to use something more conventional if you have the available space.
I also included map storage area. I have a large collection of 11×17 laminated maps that I have collected, and this allows me to keep them in a central location.
The outer bolts on each bracket ended up protruding beyond the bracket. I used a little bit of plastic tubing and covered the ends of the bolts. This protects both the boats and me.
One final note: if you use OSB please be sure that you seal the rack with paint or stain. This will protect the material from humidity or moisture and subsequent delamination. Most home owners usually have some paint leftover from previous projects – if you are not particular about colors use what you have laying around. I intentionally used a color on the brackets that would make them easy to see in low light situations, like a dark garage.”
Figure 9: A large diameter hole saw turns the cross bar into paddle storage