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Garage Storage Projects: Plywood Rack

A handy storage rack that lets you get at the plywood sheet you need!

FH00SEP_4GARAG_22-2Family Handyman
This storage rack protects your full and partial sheets of plywood and keeps them within easy reach. It also works great for storm window, paneling and other large flat items.

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Time
One day
Complexity
Simple
Cost
$20 – $100

How to build this plywood rack

Plywood storage rack

Store plywood, paneling and drywall in this handy, movable rack.

Photo 1: Cut the plywood

Cut the plywood to the dimensions show in Fig. B, below. The cuts don’t have to be precise; you don’t need a saw guide. Wear goggles and hearing protection.

Photo 2: Install the 2×6 and dividers

Cut the 2x6s to length and position them on the center plywood divider. Tack them to the plywood with 2-in. drywall screws driven from underneath. Then screw the 2×6 dividers to the bottom 2×6 with 3-in. drywall screws.

Photo 3: Install the front piece

Lay the front plywood piece over the 2x6s and anchor it with 2-in. screws driven every 12 in.

Photo 4: Assemble the back

Flip the project over and assemble the back section. Position back 2x6s for the bottom and side and fasten them with two 3-in. screws where they meet. Then drive screws at an angle (toe-screw) through the ends of the 2x6s into the assembly below. Attach the plywood back piece to the 2x6s with the 2-in. screws.

Photo 5: Fasten four cleats

Fasten four plywood cleats to the bottom and sides with 2-in. screws to hold the rack together. Use 12 screws per cleat.

Photo 6: Attach the casters

Attach the four casters and the strap leaf of the hinges with 1/4 in. x 1-1/2 in. lag screws. Place the caster with a brake on the outer front edge of the rack to hold the rack stationary when sliding items in and out.

Photo 7: Fasten the rack to the wall

Predrill pilot holes and fasten the rack to the wall stud with 1-1/2 in. lag screws.

Photo 8: Load up the rack!

Swing the rack out from the wall and load it with plywood, drywall and other big, flat stuff.

Plywood takes up relatively little space and is easy to store—simply lean it against a wall. The trick is getting at it when you need it. Nine times out of 10, you need the half sheet that’s buried behind 12 others. If you’ve experienced that frustration, you’ll love this rack. Casters and a set of hinges are the secret for easy access. They allow you to swing the storage rack out from the wall and slide out the storm window, paneling or other item you want. Dividers strengthen the rack while enabling you to separate large sheets from smaller ones.

Each slot has room for about six sheets of 3/4-in. plywood. Although you can modify our design and make the slots larger, keep in mind that anything that sits around for a year or two is a donation candidate.

Construction of the rack goes surprisingly fast. Plan an afternoon for the project plus an hour or two to
run to the home center for materials. (See Materials List, above left.) The least expensive wood will do, although for a few dollars more, an AC grade of plywood (sanded on one side) is usually flatter and nicer to work with.

When loaded, this rack is heavy. So make sure to buy casters rated for at least 200 lbs. each. One of the casters should have a brake for extra stability. If you purchase all your materials new, it’ll cost a little over 100 bucks. But chances are you’ll have some of these materials lying around. (Use up that extra 3/4-in. plywood!) Cut the plywood and 2x6s to size first, following Fig. B on p. 70 for dimensions (Photo 1). You can make your cuts freehand (without a guideboard) because they don’t have to be perfect. Use a sharp, carbide-tipped blade with at least 24 teeth to minimize splintering.

After cutting all the pieces, screw the rack together. Start with the center plywood divider first, attaching the bottom 2×6 and then the side. Use the factory edge of the plywood to keep it all square. Next, measure and mark out your center 2×6 dividers and set them in place (Photo 2). This spacing isn’t critical; use more or fewer dividers depending on your needs. After you fasten the front piece of plywood (Photo 3), you can turn the rack over and drive additional screws, spacing them every 12 in. For the back bin you’ll have to toe-screw (screw at an angle) the bottom and side 2x6s through the center plywood divider and into the opposite 2×6 (Photo 4). These toe screws hold them in place until you attach cleats, which solidly join the two sections (Photo 5).

All that’s left is attaching the hardware and fastening the rack to the wall. Since the rack and its contents are heavy, use lag screws to hold the casters and hinges in place. Predrill your holes with a 3/16-in. bit. Set the casters at a slight angle (5 degrees) to accommodate the swing of the rack (Fig. A). Attach the hinges and you’re all set to swing the rack out from the wall and fill it up.

Figure A: Plywood Rack Details

This illustration shows all of the parts of the plywood rack. See the Materials List in Additional Information below.

Figure B: Plywood Cutting Diagram

These illustrations help you use your plywood efficiently.

Additional Information

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Circular saw
  • Drill/driver - cordless
  • Tape measure