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What Is Wood Racking? A Practical DIY Guide

John is an experienced freelance content writer with an eclectic employment history and enjoys sharing his home improvement knowledge.

Finding adequate storage solutions in places like garages and warehouses is not always the easiest task. There are plenty of products to choose from, such as modular racking and shelving, but these can be expensive and don't always meet your exact needs. By building a custom storage solution using wood racking, you can make the most of your available space, have plenty of room to store things, and keep the costs down.

What Is Wood Racking?

Wood racking is a storage solution that consists of a series of wooden shelves that stand freely thanks to the frame they are in. This makes for a durable yet versatile storage solution.

Wood racking is also surprisingly simple to make and only requires the most basic level of DIY ability and tools pull off. If you're in need of some extra storage in your garage or need a place to put equipment at work, read on, and we'll cover all the details of what wood racking is and how you make it.

Everything You Need to Know About Wood Racking

In its most basic form, wood racking is little more than a series of shelves that do not need to be attached to a wall—though racking is sometimes fastened to the wall for additional stability. These freestanding storage units are often modular and can be arranged in a manner that suits the layout of the room.

Being made of wood, however, they are very easy to make from raw materials, rather than buying a pre-fabricated product as you would with flat-pack furniture. In fact, many people prefer to build wood ranking themselves, because it allows them to tailor the exact shape and size of the racking to their exact needs.

Wood racking typically comes in a rectangular shape that looks a little like a ladder from the front, with the shelves forming the rungs of that ladder. With many pre-fabricated wood racking products, it is possible to adjust the heights of the shelves to suit your needs.

If you have some particularly large items, you could leave a larger space between two sets of shelves to fit them on. If the items you wish store are relatively small, you could pack your shelves closer together, giving you more shelves on which to store things. And, of course, if you build your own wood racking, you can put the shelves wherever you like.

DIY Garage Shelves/Workbench

Where Is Wood Racking Useful?

Wood racking has an air of the industrial about it. You would not put racking in a typical living room because it would look out of place. There you would want something more aesthetically pleasing.

Wood racking is all about robust, efficient storage that does the job. Looking good isn't necessarily part of that. To that end, the best places to use wood racking are often the places where things are stored, such as basements and attics, but also places where work might take place, such as a garage or garden shed.

In the case of businesses, unless you are putting the racking in a public-facing parting of the business, such as a shop floor, you probably won't be concerned with the look.

In general, however, wood racking is useful in any situation where vertical storage solutions are needed. An example of this would be a space in which a lot of floor space is taken up by paint tins. By putting wooden racking up in that space, you give yourself additional places to put the paint in vertical space, which means that the same amount of paint takes up a much smaller footprint.

It is also useful for keeping things off of the floor in places where there may be damp or susceptible to flooding. Of course, it would be better to have a dry floor, but you can at least use wooden racking to keep everything safe while you get around to dealing with your damp floor.

Wood racking is especially useful in home garages, where it can be made easily and cheaply, and designed to fit the layout of your garage.

Wood racking is especially useful in home garages, where it can be made easily and cheaply, and designed to fit the layout of your garage.

DIY Wood Racking

While pre-fabricated wood racking is a perfectly acceptable storage solution, it is still limited in that you can only choose from a set selection of sizes. This is great if you can find a size that suits your needs, but that won't always be the case, and going DIY will allow you to tailor your racking to suit your specific requirements.

When designing your custom racking, you are not limited to the typical "ladder" design we mentioned above. You can tie into structural elements in the surrounding area, such as walls and pillars. Of course, if you have three walls—such as you would with an alcove—and you mount your racking directly to all three, they become standard shelves in effect.

It should also be noted that tieing parts of your racking directly to the walls or other structures removes one of the advantages of wood racking—versatility. You will not be able to easily move the racking around should your circumstances change, or you just fancy switching things up. Of course, if you are opting to build your racking DIY, you may be designing it to fit a specific location, in which case there's every chance it wouldn't fit in a different location regardless.

Always ensure any joints are secure. Screwing two pieces of wood directly together is rarely the best method from a structural point of view. Always use supporting brackets on your joints. And if you plan to store heavy items, do not be stingy with these brackets. On that note, it is also crucial that you ensure the wood you use will be able to support the weight of whatever you intend to put on the racking.

Safety Precautions

There are certain safety precautions to take when dealing with wood racking. The first and most obvious one is not to overload the racking. If you buy a pre-fabricated unit, it should come with a weight rating. If you are making your own, you will have to do your own calculations based on the strength of the wood.

There are two weights to factor in; the maximum weight that individual shelves can take, and the maximum weight that the whole racking can take. If you are making your own racking, you should allow for a generous margin of error with your maximum weight calculations.

Another safety rule to adhere to is always putting the heavier objects on the bottom shelves of your racking. Heavier objects on the top shelves not only present a safety risk if they fall off and land on your head, but they also make the racking unstable by making it top-heavy.

Conversely, putting heavier objects on the bottom shelves actually adds to the stability of the racking. But, once again, be sure to stay within any maximum weight limitations of your wood racking, regardless of which shelf you are putting your items on.

For racking that is taller, and perhaps intended for the storage of more substantial items, it is also recommended to fasten the racking to the wall for additional support and to prevent it from tipping over. Pre-fabricated racking will often come with tie-in points where it can be secured to the wall for this reason.

Of course, it is essential to make sure the wall—or any other vertical surface—that the racking is being attached to is up to the task of supporting the racking; otherwise, you may find yourself in a situation where the racking comes down anyway but also takes a chunk of wall with it.

Some methods of DIY wood racking will involve support structures that are attached to the wall as part of the design. In these cases, it is extremely important to make sure the wall is up to the task before going ahead.

Metal racking has plenty of advantages in largescale industrial applications, but wood racking is far more suitable for smaller and domestic settings.

Metal racking has plenty of advantages in largescale industrial applications, but wood racking is far more suitable for smaller and domestic settings.

Advantages of Wood Racking Over Metal Racking

Wood is generally considered to be a much nicer material to work with than metal, which is the most typical type of racking used. This extends to things like wood being warmer to touch, having no dangerously sharp edges, and being easier to modify.

For DIYers in particular, wood is typically easier to work with than metal, as wood can be worked using minimal tools, whereas there is not much that can be done with metal that doesn't require specialist tools. There is also a lack of middle ground with metal racking in the sense that it is either excessively strong or impractically weak.

This will often lead to you buying a more substantial racking so that you can be sure it will stand the test of time and, more importantly, weight. Having flimsy metal racking is a sure-fire way to end up with buckled racking legs and a floor full of items you had previously moved onto the racking.

Wood racking products—such as pre-fabricated racking—tend to be geared more towards places where appearances are a little more important. The design will be a little more pleasing to the eye, and perhaps the wood will be smoother or painted. While it is unlikely that these rackings will be used in living rooms, they are more suitable for places like pantries, inside closets, and other areas in the home itself.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 John Bullock


Danny from India on August 29, 2020:

John, a very useful hub for auto enthusiasts.