Building Racks for Storage

Building Racks

How to store the canoes and surfskis is always an issue. I remember one afternoon when my wife got home from work to find all my (and friends) boats laid neatly upside down on the grass while we decided which boats we wanted to use for the Duzi the next day. Her comment was something to the effect of “move the boats – it looks like a ## collection of coffins on our front lawn.”  And so began the search for good ways to store boats.

There are lots of options depending on your budget and welding expertise but my project had two criteria.

  1. Move the boats to a narrow part of our house
  2. Make sure that our 4 year old son can be involved as he was on holiday at the time

Armed with these requirements I set out to see what I could do. I had been shown the PVC pipe design by two friends with a view to building more racks at our local club. Call me a chicken, but I could not bring myself to build 16 racks at the club when I could not be absolutely sure that they would be strong enough to support the boats. Since I only needed to relocate 3 boats I thought that this would be an ideal time to try it out. This design was very easy to do and it got past my wife’s inspection in terms of aesthetics. The only caution I have is that this is not a stand alone design. I have secured mine to a wall on one side. It is far too flexible over the length to not be secured.

Brief rationale:

My surfski’s have high bows and often long rudders so to make sure that they big not bump each other I made my racks 50cm in height.

My one canoe is a yetti so the width of my design is 60cm to cater for the width of the boat.

I would play with the hight requirements depending on your particular boats – canoes do not need that much space but 1 feel that 60cm is a good width in terms of giving the whole frame some stability.

I built 3 frames that were then spaced 1.5m apart – giving a total length of the ski rack to 3m. One could go down to 2m if you were only building racks for single canoes. But otherwise 3m certainly worked for my requirements.

I used:

400mm PVC pipe for the frame                                I bought four 6m lengths

500mm PVC pipe for the rollers                                 One 6m length

400mm joiners                                                  12 per frame = 36 in total

100’s of pop rivets


Drilling machine                rivet gun              hack saw              3m tape measure            5mm wood drill bit



  1. Cut the first 6m pipe in to four 1.5m long sections – those are going to used later to support the frames.
  2. Depending on the width that you choose cut 60cm long sections from the 400mm PVC

2b. cut the same number of sections out of 500mm PVC BUT make them 5cm shorter than above.

In my case I cut four 400mm sections that were 60cm in length and

from the 500mm piping I cut four sections that were 55cm in length.

In the end the 500mm piping will slot over the 400mm piping and act as rollers for the boats.

  1. For the height cut six 50cm lengths for the upright per frame. Depending on one requirements in terms of number of racks and height requirements one could cut 40cm lengths.
  2. Cut six 30cm lengths for the bottom of the rack. These will be used to lift the frame slightly off the floor in the end.
  3. Start assembling your frames. As you go make sure that the piping is pushed squarly in to place and pop revit in to place. I chose to use a 5mm wood bit as it has a nice sharp point that does not slide on the PVC while my son is drilling but a steel bit would also work well.
  4. Don’t forget to place the 500mm piping over the bottom supports of the frame to act as your rollers once completed.
  5. Fit the 30cm feet in place and the 10cm top supports.
  6. Fit the 1.5m lengths at the bottom and top
  7. Place rack in position and secure

It is a great rack solution – I particularly like the ‘rollers’ which make sliding the boat in and off the rack so much easier. It is not very cheap but my son could cut the pipes with a hand saw and loved using the drill so a great holiday job and it looks better than my previous racks.


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