There I was, standing in the middle of my garage with nowhere to go. I had a rarely used workout machine behind me, a pile of power tools and crates of chemicals to my left, a load of camping equipment to my right and a disorganized gathering of wakeboarding gear piled in front of me. I knew my next move was going to involve a hop, skip and a jump, a short balancing act and/or a swing from one of those bike-hanging hooks that were randomly placed throughout the ceiling. I cursed my decision to go with the hop, skip and jump maneuver as I landed awkwardly on a pile of old wood and watched helplessly as a jagged piece of douglas fir popped up and took a nice chunk of skin off of my shin. Although painful and traumatic, I didn’t lose the use of my leg and I knew I’d be whole again one day.
However, it got me to thinking about the cause of the problem; my messy garage. Although once a proud, spotless and organized garage, my affection for Craigslist and resistance to throwing away anything remotely useful has brought me to this sad state of affairs. One of the major offenders was my wakeboard gear that I had collected over the years. Some of the gear is easy to stuff into a cabinet or closet, but what do you do with the boards themselves? No matter how you stack or lean them it seems like they always end up getting dinged or scratched. There has to be a better way!
When you need to solve a wake-related problem, there is no better resource than the WakeWorld Forums! I was not disappointed when I consulted my wakeboarding brethren and gathered up all kinds of ideas for organizing my boards. The one that stood out was a simple, yet elegant, PVC rack for the wall. I took the idea, made a few tweaks and came up with the following…
To start, I had to evaluate the space I had to work with. My garage walls are 10 feet high, but the bottom two feet are cinder block and the top eight feet are your standard wood-framed wall with studs set 24” apart. Although it would be nice, my wall is not covered with drywall, which makes attaching board racks a little trickier, but not impossible.
My plan was to only use the eight feet of wall above the cinder block. I thought about hanging it a little lower over the cinder block in order to squeeze in an additional board, but figured I’d keep it simple. In order to make sure the rack is secure, you want to mount it to the wall studs wherever possible. If your studs are spaced 16” apart (most common construction), you’re in luck because setting the two main structural pieces of the rack 32” apart is about perfect. Since my studs are 24 inches apart, I had to get a little creative and mount one side of the rack to some cross pieces that I installed in the wall. If I had drywall on the wall, I would have simply used drywall anchors for one side.
When finished, this rack will have six board shelves, each of which is capable of holding a wakeboard with bindings. If you remove the bindings, you will be able to store more boards per shelf. I got creative on two of my shelves and used a threaded fitting for the shelves that allows me to turn the shelf arm out of the way while I’m putting my board into the rack. Not only does this make it easier to put your board away, but it will also allow you to put each shelf closer together and fit more boards on your rack. If I had done this with all of my board shelves, I probably could have fit a seventh board shelf on this rack. It just depends on how quickly you want to get your boards in and out of the racks. If I did it over again, I’d probably make all the shelves swivel.
Below are the materials I used and I picked everything up at my local hardware store for less than $70. If you have some of this lying around the garage already, you can save a few bucks.
- 40 feet - 1” PVC pipe
- 8 - 1” PVC tee connectors (no threads)
- 4 - 1” PVC tee connectors (threaded female connection)
- 4 - 1” PVC threaded male to non-threaded female connectors
- 14 - 1” PVC 90-degree connectors
- 2 - 1” PVC three-way 90-degree connectors
- 12 - 1” PVC caps OR 10 feet - 1” foam pipe insulation
- PVC glue (clear makes the finished product look prettier)
Get started by cutting up your 40 feet of PVC into the proper sizes. Remember, measure twice, cut once. Here is a list of the pieces I cut.
- 20 - 7” pieces (8 fixed shelf horizontal pieces and 12 shelf vertical pieces)
- 2 - 10” pieces (swivel top shelf horizontal pieces)
- 2 - 5” pieces (swivel middle shelf horizontal pieces)
- 10 - 17” pieces (linear supports)
- 4 - 8.5” pieces (linear supports)
- 3 - 32” pieces (cross braces)
I recommend piecing the whole thing together dry before you get out the glue. That way you’ll make sure you didn’t measure anything improperly and you’ll be able to test fit it to your wall. It’s very important that the linear supports line up with the studs or anchors in your wall. Using the measurements on this diagram is probably the easiest way to assemble it. That picture really is worth a thousand words. It’s just like the instruction in a barrel of Tinkertoys (yes, I’m that old)!
When it does come down to gluing it together, use very little glue. PVC glue is very strong and dries very fast. It’s pretty easy to jack up your whole rack by just getting one angle slightly off. Use a flat surface to make sure everything is glued together at right angles. I used the floor of my garage to check that every shelf was at the same angle every time I glued one on. Also make sure you don’t get the glue on anything important because it’s tough to get off.
You’ll notice that during my first crack at this, I used PVC caps for the ends of each shelf. I DID NOT glue these caps on because they don’t need glue to stay in place and I wanted the option of adjusting the length of the PVC on the shelf if I wanted to. One thing I found with the caps is that the hard plastic would leave a mark on my wakeboards. My solution was to cover the vertical PVC pieces with foam pipe insulation and do away with the PVC caps. This allows my boards to lean on a softer surface and it’s actually a little cheaper. The other idea I tried was to use 1” rubber furniture feet, but they were more expensive than both of the above options.
Once you’ve got it glued together, you’re ready to mount it to the wall. To do so, simply drill a hole through the rectangle frame into the studs. If you’re using drywall anchors, just drill the holes in the PVC frame and line them up with your anchors. Make sure you put in enough screws for a solid foundation.
Finally, you get to populate your rack! Mine got five boards with bindings and I filled my oversized top rack with two wakeboards without bindings and a wakeskate. There are an infinite number of options you have for storage by varying the size of each shelf, so go nuts and make it work for you!