Three Ways to Rack LumberEfficient stock storage opens up valuable workspace
Synopsis: Matthew Teague of Fine Woodworking tackles lumber storage – finding the balance between keeping lumber out of the way but close at hand in as small an area as possible. He looks at three racks that might help you adapt the system that will work best in your own shop. Kelly Mehler uses a no-frills storage system, involving 2×4 grids. Lon Schleining prefers vertical storage, which he says saves time and labor; no stacking and restacking to get at a bottom board. John West uses a lot of sheet goods, so his solution was to build vertical bays from 2x3s and plywood.
Finding an orderly way to store lumber is integral to creating an efficient shop. Side-stepping boards to get to machines and benches is not only unsafe, it’s also no way to spend a day. For most, the key to a good storage system is keeping lumber out of the way but close at hand in as small an area as possible. There are almost as many storage methods as there are woodworkers. A look at three different lumber racks might help you adapt the system that will work best in your own shop.
No frills storage
Kelly Mehler, a woodworker and teacher living in Berea, Ky., uses lumber racks that are as simple and efficient as you’ll find. It doesn’t take days or even hours to build a similar setup. “It looks like a tic-tac-toe board standing straight up,” he says. “You’d be amazed how much strength you get out of a 2×4 when it’s standing on its end.” He’s built three of these 2×4 grids. They stand straight up and are connected with horizontal 1×6 lumber. Each rack has nine holes with openings that are about 2 ft. sq., and the boards just slide right in.
“The flow of work is very important to me,” Mehler says. He has two racks built this way—one on either side of his radialarm saw. “I just pull the boards right off the racks and onto the radial-arm saw and rough mill them to size.”
“It’s all just nailed together,” he says. “Screws would be better, but I didn’t really think about it when I put them up 18 years ago.”
After 19 years as a stairbuilder, teacher and spare-time kayak builder in Long Beach, Calif., Lon Schleining prefers vertical storage. “As a matter of fact,” he says, “I moved Into my shop because it had a high ceiling.”
From Fine Woodworking #130
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