How To Build a Vertical Surf Rack on the Cheap

My quiver grew to a half dozen this summer and storage was becoming scarce. All the nooks, crannies and corners were spoken for and by August I was actually storing a board or two in the car. It was time to finally build a permanent spot for the boards. I searched all over the Internet for examples, but only found blueprints and schematics for horizontal racks.  I knew I wanted to go vertical (tail on the floor, nose to ceiling) to allow for expansion (wishful thinking?). I had a lot of guess work, but it seems to be working out well enough.

Best of all, you can pull this off for next to nothing using stuff lying around the house/garage.  However, I did spend some cash, which I’ll price out for you later on. (Had I been more diligent though, I could have cut the price down even further!) Price really depends on how many board you are building for and how deluxe you want the rack. (I went deluxe.)  But look around your house and garage for materials to use, be creative.  Chances are you have much of the supplies you’ll need at the ready. (This whole project could fall under the Reuse portion of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ethos!)

For the bare bones edition of this project, all you’ll need is:

Things to consider for a more deluxe version:

And here is what I did (click on any image to enlarge):

  1. Clear out a spaceClean Up – Clear out a space in your garage or wherever you plan to store the boards.  Make sure you have enough room set aside for the size of the rack you plan to put in.  Beatles poster and astroturf are a must.
  2. Mark the center-line and drill spots2×4 – Take the 2×4 and mark out a center line lengthwise.  Next mark out spots to drill holes for the dowels.  For the boards with bigger fins, I went 12″ between drill spots, and then 11″ between spots for the short boards.  In the end, the 12″ gap was a tight fit, but worked. You may want to consider and extra inch or two if you have extra room.  Also be sure to take the dowel’s diameter into consideration when considering spacing between the drill holes.
  3. Drill!Drill Holes – If you have access to a drill press, definitely use it.  You’ll get much better results.  Ideally, you want the drill bit and the dowel diameter to match so the dowels fit snugly into their holes.  With a hand drill you run the risk of getting a bit of wobble in the drilling action thus creating a slightly wider opening/less snug fit for the dowel.
  4. Prepare Dowels – I bought 1″ hardwood dowels.  (I’ve heard that the softer wood can warp and compress over time resulting in a floppy dowel.)  But I suspect that PVC pipe would work well for this too.  I cut my dowels down to 24″ segments which seems to be wide enough for even my beefiest board.
  5. Make adjustments... : (Glue and place dowelsAttach Dowels to 2×4 – Place each of your dowels into the holes drilled into the 2×4.  For extra strength (and because I used a hand drill and worried the dowels might spontaneously pop out), I smothered the dowels’ ends with Wood Glue and then placed them into their spots.  Even with the glue, I had a few wobbly dowels.  I used toothpicks to straighten out the direction of the dowel as well as tighten the fit of the dowel.  After the glue was dry I used a Dremel to saw out the protruding bit of the toothpicks.
  6. Mount the RackMount 2×4 – Find the wall studs or something super sturdy and attach the 2×4 to the wall using wood screws.  I put the height of the rack at 4’8″, but this can vary based on the difference in height between you largest and shortest board.  My boards range from 9′ to 6’8″.  Also, with the bigger racks, get some buddies to help you out with this step. This is not a one-person job.  (You may consider doing this step before attaching the dowels (#5).  It definitely would have been easier to mount the 2×4 before I had the dowels in, but if you have to make adjustments to the holes afterward… Carpenter’s choice.)
  7. Eye - string - hookScrew in eyesSecure Boards* – Living in California, I always worry that an earthquake will bring all my boards down.  I picked this idea from Harbour Surf Shop.  I bought few sets of hook and eyes and some nylon string.  I screwed an eye into the end of each dowel, then connected the eye to the hook with a length of the nylon string so I could “lock” the boards into their slots.
  8. Pad the dowelsPad the Dowels* – To make a softer resting spot for the boards, I took some pipe insulation I had found and cut them lengthwise in half.  Using zip ties, I secured them to the dowels with the padding facing the side the board would rest on. But I am sure there are a hundred solutions to this step.  Take a look around your garage, see what you find.
  9. Tail Padding* – To protect the tails of the boards I found some old rugs and set them down below the boards. Simple. I’ve also read about a guy who used old yoga mats as padding.  Again, look around for unused items; use your imagination.
  10. Load Your Quiver – This is the best part.  Put your boards in place.  Step back and marvel at your work.  Bask in the glory.  Now grab one of those boards and head out for some waves!


*Deluxe steps.  Not necessary to the completion of the project.

Here’s what I spent for my 8 board rack:

  • 2×4 – $5.99
  • dowels – 4 @ $4.99
  • hook and eye sets – 4 @$2.49
  • nylon twine – $3.99 (100′, smallest amount I could find)
  • wood glue – $4.99
  • total – $44.89 (plus tax)


  1. Tracey on 27 October 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks for the info. I’ve only got two boards, but I’m already working out how to put together a rack for apartment living where I can’t bolt things to the wall. I’ll let you know if I get so inspired to actually make it work!

    • Jeff on 28 October 2009 at 7:48 am

      When I was researching, I did find one post that was helpful in pointing me in the right direction. This nice lady built a free-standing vertical rack with locks. Pretty cool, but maybe this will help you out too.

      I also dig the hanging/drying space she incorporated into the rack. I am trying to figure out a way to include that into my set up.

      • Tracey on 28 October 2009 at 9:50 am

        Oooo awesome find, thanks. Now I just need to live somewhere for more than 5 minutes so I can justify building a rack 😀

        Handy thing about SF is most apartments have 10+ ft ceilings. I can keep most of my gear indoors. I did hang my booties on a cable out my window at my old place trying to destank them.

        • Jeff on 28 October 2009 at 1:37 pm

          Destank! I should write a lingo post on that.

    • max on 26 October 2010 at 2:46 pm

      I just bought one from T-Rax surfboard racks.
      Thing is awesome and it only cost 80 bucks for 6 boards.
      I didn’t have to do anything but attachment the rods and screw it to the wall.

  2. on 28 October 2009 at 5:22 am

    What a useful “how-to-do” post … very good! Now, if only I could get an apartment as big as that garage here in Honolulu, I’d be all set!

    • Jeff on 28 October 2009 at 7:59 am

      Thanks! In a perfect world… I’m always wishin’ for warmer water like Hawaii.

  3. forex robot on 4 December 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Great post this will really help me.

  4. John on 8 February 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks man. I used this to build my own and it worked out really well. I’m not super handy, but I was able to pull it off pretty easily.

    • Jeff on 9 February 2010 at 9:11 am

      John, glad the post was helpful and that it worked out. How many boards did you build it out for?

  5. Cal on 18 July 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks for the details. I just built the same type of racks for my 5 boards. Super easy, and took me about maybe 2 hours door to door. I recycled some old memory foam to put the boards on, so there’s plenty of cushion underneath. Yoga mats seem to work well also.

    This was surprisingly easy and fun.

  6. R Scott on 10 October 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Great Post! Spent around $36 bucks, 2 hours and I have a four board rack in my garage! Now all we need is swell,.,.,.,

    • Jeff on 11 October 2010 at 8:38 am

      That’s awesome! Any pics?

  7. Simon on 27 March 2011 at 9:25 pm

    These are awesome homemade racks man.

    I haven’t been able to find too many do it yourself racks that are vertical.

    These are definitely some of the best I have seen. Well Done!

  8. Pete on 10 April 2011 at 12:36 pm

    If you’re not into spending 4 to 6 hours gathering materials and trying to produce a rack that might not look all that great you can get a vertical surfboard rack here:


  9. Moritz on 28 December 2013 at 10:17 am

    Hey there

    Seems like a great post but unfortunately we cannot see any pictures anymore 🙁

    Does anybody still have them ?

    Or is there a similar site with a similar project?

    I would love to build my own surf rack.

    Thank you

  10. jo on 13 October 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Same concern, no pictures 🙁

    Any chance you could find them back ?

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