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Sizing the two pieces of plywood

This temporary project became a great addition to my workshop. In my first sketch, I drew a 7’ tall lumber rack that required a full sheet of 3/4" plywood. I'm glad I checked how this would look and fit in my basement workshop before committing to it because I found out it should be reduced to 5’ tall.

I had a 3/4" sheet of plywood cut in half lengthwise at the lumberyard. Back home, I headed to my basement workshop and stacked the two halves on homemade I-beams spread evenly on my workbench. I then sized the two pieces of plywood to their final dimensions.

2’ x 6’ plywood pieces

Using my homemade circular saw cutting guide, I removed 2’ from one end of each piece to end up with two identical 2' x 6' plywood pieces.

Cutting jig

Using a cutting jig (shown) leads to perfect and predictable cuts if it is set squarely and is well secured to the I-beams and to the workbench with clamps. After I was done, I used my table saw to rip the two plywood pieces even.

Grid

I laid out a grid by marking the board every 6” along the width and every 12” along the length to end up with four rectangles along the width and six rectangles along the length. Those measurements are approximate since they were based on the first cuts made at the lumberyard. As long as all of the rectangles are equal in size, you'll be fine. Drive a screw at each of two diagonal corners to keep the pieces together. Keep in mind that those screws will end up at the front end of the base.

Connecting the dots

Connect the dots to make two identical uprights (or standards) from each stacked plywood piece. As shown, the two parts are interlocked and opposite one another. From each of the opposite ends, darken the top of three rectangles that will represent the bases and then draw diagonal lines from corner to corner to delineate different level arm supports. The areas under the two spring clamps are waste areas that will be cut away.

Driving a screw

Drive a screw into every second rectangle diagonal to keep the sets together (for a total of four). The former screw ends up in the front end of the base of one set of uprights and this one ends up at the back of the upper arm supports of the other set. Each set must be secured as mentioned before starting the next step.

Image left: Circular saw. Image right: Completing the cuts.


I used my circular saw (plunge cuts) and my short and long homemade cutting guides to make all of the straight cuts. I completed the corners using my jigsaw. You could use a jigsaw and the best blade you can find for the entire process. If you do, you will have to drill a hole at each opposite acute angle corner of the waste areas, as well as at the upper corner of one of the middle arm supports to slip in the jigsaw blade.


Two identical sets of uprights

When the cuts are done, you will end up with two identical sets of uprights. I discarded the diagonal sides (2" each way) of the waste areas to get thinner arm supports and, therefore, higher or larger storage areas.

Sanding

Sand all sides to remove the pencil lines and to smooth out all rough edges left by the jigsaw blade. And why not go a step further and smooth out all edges with a trim router and a 1/8" rounding over bit or a chamfering bit followed by a light sanding? Since this rack is meant to be moved by hand regularly, you certainly won't regret it!

Applying a coat of polyurethane

After adding two nail glides under each upright (one is shown but eight are required), I applied a coat of quick-drying, durable water-based polyurethane.

Image left: Adding the hinges. Image right: Removable triangular top shelf.

To complete the project, add four 3" hinges on each pair of uprights, leaving a 1/16" gap between them so they won't bind and so they can be folded and stowed away. I like to locate the hinges at the top and bottom one hinge length away from the edge. I evenly divide the remaining area to position the two center hinges. When folded, the middle arm supports become a perfect handle to carry the set around.

A removable triangular top shelf can be added to one or both units for storing smaller stock. If four narrow cleats are screwed from underneath the triangular top shelves, they act as keys to lock the folding racks in the open position.

Storing full sheet goods

Only one unit is used to temporarily hold or organize short stock for small projects, while two units can be set side by side to hold longer stock required for larger projects. Since the base wings extend from the units, full sheet goods can also be stored off the floor, which makes cleaning and sweeping much easier.

This folding rack is fun to build and is handy both inside and outside the workshop. It’s also a good way to practice several woodworking techniques. You decide the dimensions as well as the plywood type. Happy woodworking and work safely.

Text and photos by Serge Duclos

Serge Duclos started woodworking 40 years ago after purchasing a house. He soon found it was a way to relax from the stress related to his job as a human resources professional. Since retiring in 2004, Serge continues to enjoy his pastime and to update his bilingual woodworking blog http://atelierdubricoleur.wordpress.com with his projects, as well as his tips and techniques.

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