Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 2, Issue 4
March 2008
Sheet Goods: Putting Them In Their Place

Do you have a love-hate relationship with sheet goods? Who isn't enticed by particleboard, MDF and plywood, which are dimensionally stable and stay relatively flat—something that can't be said of wood? The readily available, uniform material is like manna from heaven for large carcass work. Embrace it and adore it; that is, until you have to store it, move it, or cut it.

In the perfect workshop, the sheet goods storage area is as close as possible to the shop door, minimizing the effort needed to move the materials into the shop. In my workshop, that ideal location is at the end of my table saw out-feed path. However, locating my storage area here would result in reducing my out-feed path by three feet, something I was loath to do. That got me thinking about a vertical storage rack design with supports attached to the floor and ceiling, with nothing in between. I could easily use all of the out-feed space when needed by simply moving the sheet goods off the rack.

Storage rack   Storage rack
The rack provides a versatile and cost-efficient solution to sheet goods storage.   The ceiling support arms swing out of the way so that sheets can be easily loaded onto the rack.

Following through with this idea, I created a sheet goods storage rack consisting of a 2-1/4" raised platform on the floor butted up against and fastened to a wall that the sheet goods rest on. The platform is constructed of a 2x4 grid with a plywood top that's covered with a sheet of ultra-high molecular weight (UHMW) plastic fastened with counter-sunk screws. The slippery plastic covering allows for heavy MDF sheets to slide in and out of the rack with little resistance, making loading and unloading a breeze. The dimensions of the platform are 2'x3', which means that a 4'x8' sheet sitting in the rack hangs over either end of the platform, providing a good handhold. A raised lip on the front of the platform keeps the sheets from sliding off the slippery plastic.

Raised platform
The raised platform is covered with a sheet of UHMW plastic, which allows heavy sheets to slide on and off of the rack easily.
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