You know how valuable power racks are in the quest for muscle, and how expensive they can be. I ran across this homemade one in a forum and I had to share this with you. This is by far the BEST homemade power rack I've seen, along with very detailed plans on how to build it.
Instructions and photos by Aaron Gipperich.
Now that you've decided building a home gym is right for you, it's time to acquire some equipment. The power rack is the core of any bodybuilder's home gym, and unfortunately it's one of the most expensive components you will buy. Even a basic, no-frills power rack will cost over $400 when purchased new and shipping charges can be substantial if purchased online. Craigslist.com can turn up great deals on power racks, but depending on your location and patience level finding the right rack may be a painfully slow effort. If a new rack is out of your price range and playing the Craigslist waiting game is not for you then read on, as we'll show you how to build a quality wood power rack for under $150 using basic tools and simple construction techniques. Download the attached plans for a complete diagram of the power rack.
"Did he say 'wood' power rack? No way am I using wood!" Yes we've all seen pictures of some guy using a rickety power rack he built from spare 2x4s that's just an accident waiting to happen. However, wood has amazing compressive strength, and when built properly can handle extremely heavy weight. Built properly to utilize wood's compressive strength and treated with some care (not intentionally abused) the rack we're going to build should last for many years of heavy lifting. Wood also has some advantages over a steel rack, mainly being that this rack can easily be customized to fit your gym space. Low ceiling heights in basements or garages can be a challenge for some commercial power racks which are usually 82" or taller. Wood is also quieter than steel which can be an advantage for people like me.
I often work out late in the evening after my wife and 2-year old go to bed so the less metal I have clanking around in the basement the better. And the satisfaction of using a quality tool that you built yourself carries a level of pride into your workouts, plus it will impress you fellow lifting buddies. So with that on the table, let's move on to building this beast.
Only a few basic tools are required for construction. At the absolute minimum you will need a tape measure, hand saw, corded electric drill (not cordless), a standard drill bit set with screwdriver bits, standard ratchet and socket set, a 1 1/8" diameter spade bit (for cutting the holes in the vertical legs) and a level floor area at least 8'x8' to work in. You will need a powerful plug-in electric drill instead of a cordless unit for cutting the many holes that will need bored in the legs. This work will tear even a quality cordless drill to shreds as they are not meant for heavy cutting.
Other tools that will make this job easier include a HIGHLY recommended table saw for clean cuts (or a circular saw but the table saw is preferable), a cordless drill, attachment allowing the socket set to be used on the drill, various C-clamps and other grippers for clamping pieces together and a large table for a work space. A sheet of 4x8 plywood set up on a few saw horses or 5 gallon buckets makes a nice assembly bench and can save a lot of time being on your hands and knees.
All of the lumber and other components for this rack can be found at your local Lowes, Home Depot or other good hardware and supply stores. The overall price of the rack will vary depending on your local prices but careful shopping should get you in the $120-140 range for everything. The lumber you select should be where you pay closest attention to what you're buying. Lumber comes in several grades and are priced accordingly. Of all the boards in this rack, the eight 2x6 members for the vertical legs are where you need spend the money and buy the better grades. Look for at least a "framing grade" of 2x6 and check each board for straightness and the fewest knots and other imperfections.
These boards are the core of the rack and will take the most abuse so be stingy and pick 8 of the best you can find. I happened to use a wolmanized board on my rack as that was the next grade above the cheap stuff. I wouldn't recommend wolmanized after my own experience but they certainly will work (more on that later) if available. The other members are not as critical and can be bought from the bargain stack but as always, the straighter the better. Be sure to buy one extra 2x4x96 for bracing the top of the rack to your ceiling structure (see end of article for this procedure). The board sizes and quantities you need are listed on the drawing diagrams at the bottom of this article.
The other items you need will include several pieces of 3/4" steel pluming pipe for spotter bars and a chinning bar. The cheapest way to buy the spotter pipe is to buy the full length 8 or 10 foot piece and have the store cut it in half for you (free at Lowes or Home Depot). Buy the pre-cut 5' piece for the chin bar. PLEASE NOTE the rack in the picture below is using 1/2" diameter pipe for the spotter rails. I'll be honest and admit I bought this size as it was a few bucks cheaper than 3/4" and is more than strong enough for the weight I can lift. Heavy lifters should go with the 3/4" size but be advised you hole cuts in the legs will need to be precise (straight drills) or you will have a tough time changing positions as the fit is snug.
The various plumbing fittings and washers you will need for the rack pins are also in the drawings below. An item that is not in the drawings but is recommended is a piece of steel 1" wide flat bar or light gauge angle to mount on the sides of the legs to keep the Olympic bar knurling from slowly filing away at the wood. This will only add about $6-8 to the overall price and you can add it later if cash is tight.
Several sizes and lengths of screws are needed for the project. The bulk of the screws for assembling the frame are 3" #14 wood screws which are just a heavy duty wood screw. Buy 3 of the 25 count boxes. The double legs are mated together with 2 1/2" drywall screws spaced 12" apart. If you're unsure of using drywalls screws you can go with a heavier duty wood screw but it's overkill in my opinion as the force pulling against these screws is minimal. Use 2 1/2" screws on the legs as 3" will poke through the back side of the legs. You will also need 4 lag screws 5/16" diameter by 2 1/2" long with washers for the base board.
We're going to start with assembling the four vertical legs of the rack. The legs are going to take the majority of the construction time and once completed the remaining assembly goes quickly. First take the 8 premium 2x6 leg boards and cut them to 80 1/2". Depending on the height of your room, this length can be varied for a custom fit. The overall height of this rack will be 82" so add 1 1/2" to the length of the leg boards for the total height.
If you only have a hand or circular saw, the end you cut will be placed at the top of the rack. The pre-cut bottom ends will be square and will be screwed to the bottom supports (getting everything square on the bottom is critical). After cutting the boards to length double them up and screw them together with the drywall screws according to the screw pattern. The c-clamps or quick grips are handy for clamping the boards when screwing together. IMPORTANT NOTE: be sure to drill pilot holes in all screw locations to prevent splitting the boards. Do this for EVERY screw in the rack.
Once you have the 4 leg members screwed together we need to layout the spotter hole pattern on each leg. Draw a center line down each leg on the long side and mark hole locations according to the plan. Your needs may not require as many holes as I placed on my rack so the total number is your judgment call. I do like having the very top holes for moving the spotter pins out of the way when not used and the bottom set is handy for racking the bar when doing dead lifts and rows. The holes are placed at 4 1/2" on center and this is the minimum you should go for strength reasons.
The way I drilled the holes in the boards was by placing the legs on some 2x4 blocks to elevate it several inches above the floor. I drilled 1/4" pilot holes in each location first. Then switching to the 1 1/8" spade bit I drilled the hole half way through the board. I then flipped the board over and drilled through the rest of the hole. This method prevented the wood from splitting or splintering when the spade bit cut all the way through.
If you drill all the way through from one side you will likely split your board on the backside. The spade bit is chucking a lot of wood and by the time you are finished with all four legs your wrists will let you know it! Remember how I said I would not recommend wolmanized earlier? The reason for this is because this wood is very wet from the water proofing treatment applied. Being this wet did not make for very clean cuts and the holes are a bit "choppy" on the inside. The boards will dry out after several weeks but I didn't want to wait this long before building the rack, lesson learned.
Once the four legs are done the rest is easy! Cut the remaining boards to the lengths as specified in the plans (remember to cut the holes for the chin bar, same way as the holes in the legs). From here you're going to assemble the right and left sides of the rack separately. By building the rack in "sides" it will allow you to easily transport the rack to your home gym and do the easy final assembly there.
Referencing the plan, start with screwing the two bottom boards of each side together to form an "L" shape (boards D and G). You'll use your 4 foot 2x8 and 2x6 members here. Making the base first is the easiest way to attach the legs to these members. The bottom side of the 2x8 will rest on the floor with the 2x6 acting as the base plate for the vertical legs. Pay careful attention when assembling the base as it's easy to screw the wrong board ends together.
If you're unsure lay the entire frame out on the floor or table as it will go together before assembling anything. Here is where the plywood bench can help you easily square the frame up by using the table edges. If you're using the floor do your best to get everything square by eye-balling and doing measurements - measure twice before drilling pilot holes!
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The top board of each side will be the last piece to screw into the top of the legs (board A). When adding the 45 degree leg braces it's easiest to stand up the rack side. It should stand on its own if the floor is level. I would highly suggest cutting the 45 degree braces with a table saw for clean and square joints. The bottom braces are the last step for this side of the rack; build the opposite side using the same methods.
After you construct the left and right sides of the rack there are three boards remaining (boards B, E and H). These three boards are what will tie the two sides of the rack together to complete the assembly. The length of these boards can be altered allowing for a custom width to your rack. I would advise measuring your barbell to be sure it will fit in the rack as it's shown. The outside dimension of the legs for this rack is 51 1/2" which should fit a 7' barbell but you should verify your bar length.
When doing the final assembly, place the rack where you want it to sit and measure the rack corners to ensure everything is square. Once everything is aligned I would suggest starting with the bottom board. It ties each side together with heavy lag bolts and washers for extra stability. You can use the ratchet set for this but an adapter to use the drill is very handy for these screws. The two top bracing boards screw in using the typical 3" wood screws.
Now is a good time to add the steel flat bar or angle guards to the leg sides if you so choose. For my rack I bought a 4 foot piece of 1"x1" metal angle stock and cut it in half. Attaching to the frame can be done with several methods (screws, glue, Velcro, etc.) I chose Velcro making it easy to move the guard to various locations on the rack if needed.
The last step should be deciding on how to add extra ceiling bracing to the top of your rack. As it stands now it's a very sturdy piece of equipment but being wood the less movement you have the longer it will stay a tight and rigid frame. Bracing the top will greatly reduce any rocking during use especially when doing chins. The absolute best method is to brace the top directly to your ceiling or floor structure above. If you're in a basement with exposed floor joists this can be done very easily.
For my rack, the overall height is 2" below my floor joists so I used a spare 2x2 that I screwed to the bottom of the joists then connected the left and right sides of the rack to it with several metal "L" brackets and wood screws. My rack has no movement at all thanks to this. Higher ceilings can use 2x4 attached to the top boards and running at a 45 degree angle up to the ceiling.
There is no right or wrong way for this as long as you can add something to reduce movement of the top of the rack. If for some reason you absolutely cannot connect the rack to your ceiling then the plan shows adding two 45 degree kicker boards at the top of the frame. This will significantly strengthen the top but not as well as true ceiling bracing.
You're ready for action!
Job well done! Your rack is complete and is ready to do some serious lifting. I hope this tutorial was a helpful guide for making your new power rack. Now the money you saved can go towards some extra plates and protein powder for your next workout.
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NOTE: This rack was designed to be used with a standard weight bar. If you have an olympic bar, you need to move the sides of the rack in 2.5". This will allow the collars on the olympic bar to clear the sides of the rack and sit freely on the pipe fittings. Boards "B, H and E" (reference the power rack plan PDF) need to be cut approximately 2.5" shorter. Measure your olympic bar to verify this measurement before cutting these boards.
Pair this homemade power rack with this homemade weight lifting bench.
Very well designed and thought-out, with very detailed, easy to follow plans. I know some lifters were concerned with the hollow 3/4" diameter plumbing pipe being used for the saber spotter pins, especially if you drop a heavily weighted bar on them. Most likely they'll just bend, stopping the weight anyway.
If you are overly concerned about this, you can replace the 3/4" diameter plumbing pipe with thick walled hydraulic pipe, adding some rigidity to the pins. Of course this will add some more $ to the cost of the rack.
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Readers Pics: Show us your homemade power rack.
Barry, I just finished the rack. Here are a few pictures. I made a few modifications. I used plywood to support the uprights, used 2x8s for the top, and used black pipe for a chin-up bar and to hold the front together. My son loves it. Shawn
Check out this homemade power rack/lifting platform by a reader of the site "Big Daddy". The red paint fooled me, I though it was steel at first! Damn nice job.
Read COMMENTS or jump down to leave one.
Barry C. Do you need any help building this? Have any suggestions? Let us know!
Anonymous This was easy to build...thanks for the detailed plans!
Michael Howland What if I am using olympic size 64" long barbell? How far apart should I have the main posts? Looking forward to making this next month! :D
Barry C. Measure between the sleeves of the bar and subtract about 4-6 inches.
Michael Howland Thanks! I really appreciate all of the homemade items that are on this site. Is it at all possible to make incline/flat bench that is sturdy or would buying one be a better idea?
Barry C. Yes, check out the homemade equipment page on this site and you will find plans to build one.
Guest Yes. You can do it yourself. Flat Bench, incline and decline. I made it from iron profile. email@example.com
Guest hey i was just wondering if this power rack could support the additional lateral pulldown attachment , similar to that of your 4x4 power rack thanks
Barry C. I'm guessing it would work.
Ray How do you keep the rack pins from spinning when you rack your weights?
Barry C. Ray, it looks like all you do is hand tighten the pipe cap to keep the rack pins from spinning. You are using a 4" pipe nipple screwed into a 45 degree elbow on one side and a pipe cap on the other. Most of the time you can screw pipe threads in about 1/4" to 1/2" deep, leaving in this case about 3" (with the flat washers taken up additional space). The rack boards are about 3" thick as well, so you just tighten the pipe cap by hand to keep the pipe assembly from spinning.
Ray I think that I may just use a large pipe flange on bothe ends ... that way, spinning is not an issue anyway. Thanks for the reply, Barry.
Barry C. Ray, pipe flanges are a great idea! If you build this rack, send me photos and I'll put them up here.
Kelly Angel This is a neat article. I really enjoyed it. Really cost effective and enlightening ideas were present. Photographs were really good too. Like I have said in the past, this is a really cool site! Gets better every time I look at it. firstname.lastname@example.org
Nik Thanks for the plans! Just finished the bad boy, took me about 15 hours start to finish. Although when i got to putting my bar on the rack i noticed it is too short haha, so i guess if any1 else builds this rack check your bar and make adjustments or be prepared to buy a new bar(i need a new 1 neway). Thank you again Barry everything about this thing is great the wood allows for more customization later down the road also. Great job!
Paul S I've nearly completed this myself, just trying to drill the holes. I'm using a cordless drill so unfortunately I only get about 3 holes done on one charge, so it's going to take a few days off and on to finish. So far I've got about 10 hours of work in on the project.
A few recommendations:
1. Don't use two 2x6's for each of the main posts. Use 4x6 posts! They aren't that far off in price (it was about $1.25 more each vs two 2x6's), and you don't have to worry about securing them together so it will cut down significantly on build time.
2. Make 1 1/4th holes, not 1 inch. The difference isn't enough to significantly impact the load bearing capacity, and 3/4" pipe (1" O.D.) will fit through a LOT easier. I would recommend against 1/2" pipe.
3. Use a "wood boring" bit instead of a spade bit to make the holes. Will cut down on the drilling time and difficulty, but it's going to set you back around $10-14.
4. The 2x4's braces on the bottom between the legs should be replaced by something more substantial (2x6 is the logical fit)and it is worth putting a couple of screws in through the 2x8's on the sides into those supports.
5. Metal braces! I used simpson strong-tie brand braces, though several kinds are available. Every corner in my build is braced with a metal support, which adds to rigidity and gives me a little more peace of mind, since screws are really NOT that strong.
Barry C. Paul, Lets see some photos when you are finished. Thanks for the tips!
Paul S Will take pics as soon as it's complete, probably going to take me another 2-3 days off and on to finish the holes and clean up the area. Looks like a giant hamster cage in my garage with all the shavings from the wood boring bit!
Paul S So here's the end result. The only thing left is to add a little angle stock so the bar won't tear up the posts, but I'm waiting until I find the stock I have (it's in the garage *somewhere*!). Here's the shocker for those looking at my build: I spent around $200-210 all things considered. That's a far cry from the ~120 hoped for originally, but I just didn't feel comfortable leaving out the metal braces everywhere (about $35ish) and I ended up using more pipe pieces than were probably necessary. Also I spent $12 on that wood boring bit. I still feel it was well worth money, even if I am approaching the low end cost of a manufactured rack.
1. Get 4.5" length pipe for the bar supports if you are using 4x6's, 4" was too short to allow washers. I end up using one washer on the front and two on the back with the 4.5" pipe.
2. Use "T" fittings for the back of the bar mounts, this way you can jam something in them (I used some rebar) to use as a lever to make sure they are really tightened down well.
Feel free to do what you want with the pics, I'm glad it's finally finished! Only thing left now is to get a few more weights and a flat bench to start in on my routine.
Gipper51 Paul, The rack looks great. Your suggestions are excellent and great upgrades for those willing to spend the extra $ to beef it up. It looks almost indestructable!
Paul Shelley I still have some reservations about the strength of using pipe for the bar holding mounts, so I'm looking for a better solution there. Will post back if I come up with anything.
turtle Find 1 old 6' steel barbell,the york kind that went with the plastic weights and had the chrome sleeve over it with red plastic collars. remove the chrome sleeve and cut the steel bar in half, the two pieces should be plenty strong!
Ryan Just be carefull when using pressure treated. Alot of places like Lowes sells WET pressure treated lumber. This is because it doesn't get dried about before it's treated. When it does dry out it will warp and twist.
Barry C. Ryan, Thanks for the great tip!
Paul Shelley I was also concerned with wet PT lumber, but mine didn't really warp at all.I do have some small splits but they don't go very deep and they haven't grown at all in the last month. Eventually I'll fill them when I get around to staining or painting the rack.
Guest Which kind of wood did you use for this?
Barry C. Don't use treated wood! When it dries out it might warp or split.Use untreated wood for this project.
Esteban Paul S, That is one cool ass rack. Looks like the rack itself is a strength trainer. One question, though. Can you do an overhead press standing inside there? I am six foot, two inches tall with long arms and it looks like yours would have a low clearance for me inside on the standing OHP. Great project you did there.
Barry C. You might be to tall...but that's whats great about building your own rack....you can customize it
Alex Thats an awesome piece of woodwork! Great stuff :-) Anyway you think this could be made to be collapsible? I have space considerations to make and wonder if you could use pins in place of screws/bolts. Strong pins of course. I'm thinking of making this just over shoulder height so I can fit it in my shed if collapsed. Thanks!
Barry C. Alex, How would you hold the pins in place? Maybe use a pin with small holes on each end for a cotter pin to slide through. This won't be a solid as if you used bolts...you could just use bolts and remove them when you want to take the rack apart.
Alex Thanks Barry, that makes sense I guess. After considering this I would not actually be taking it down very often. It would be used outdoor so would need some proper waterproof protection, probably a tarpaulin or something. Regards, Alex
zack Hay i want to make some thing like this but i only want the bottom half of the power rack for benching will it stay togerther if its half the size and dosent have the top frame holding it or will it calapse or some thing any ideas?
This is the pic of my bench i want to fit the rack on the inside of the two poles so that i can use it as a spoter and so it wont take up any more space than it already has. The bar in the pic is a 7 ft bar and it has plenty of room to make one on the inside of the bench. I dont want to make the full one becouse it will take up to much space and i have a pullup bar and dont need it to hold the bar since my beanch already does i just want to make it for the spoters for incline,decline and flat bench press.
ps. great article and and realy good tips for making it every one
Barry C. Yes, you could probably make a shorter version of the homemade power rack. If you do, I would run a board across the front for added structural support. Good Luck!
zack You mean at the bottom of the rack were it would usualy be open for seperat bench to go in and out? so the bottom would be like a square bass right?
Barry C. Yes
Guest i live in australia and wanted to make this but dont understand the measurments are the measurments in inches or what and what dose this mean length [3' -0"][4'-6 1/2"]and so on, why is there two numbers #-#? which one is it?
Barry C. 3'-0".....this(3') means 3 feet or 36 inches. so 4'-6 1/2" is 4 feet (4' x 12"= 48") + 6 1/2" = 54 1/2"
Tugboat Hi, Thanks for posting the plans online... money's tight but I am committed to improving my fitness and need a power rack in my home gym. But I have a question: With all that's been said about not using pressure-treated lumber... my home gym is on a screen porch behind my house. Sometimes rain blows through the screen, and I'd hate to build a rack from untreated lumber, and then see it rot in my gym. If I use untreated lumber, but paint/varnish it with several coats, is that good enough to keep it lasting years? or do I need to fabricate a cover for it?
Barry C. The problem with pressure treated wood is warping, not sure if painting/varnish would stop this. Maybe a cover would be better? Or just painting/varnish the untreated lumber?
Tugboat I think I'm going to go with untreated wood and get some spar varnish (the kind they use on wooden spars on sailboats). That should repel water well enough. As I think on it, I have a car cover for a classic car that I used to own; I think I'll throw that over the rack just for extra insurance :) Now to save up for rubber compound plates. I'll post pics when I get the rack done. Thanks again!
Alan Valancy Behold my Power Cage . . .
Josh Vittetoe Awesome cage man.
Guest On average, what is the capacity of these wooden racks? Would using some form of higher end steel for the pins and hooks increase the amount the wooden rack could support? I'm very interested in getting a good rack for my home gym and if I can save a few hundred bucks by building one, I'd prefer to go that route. If you could email me a response at email@example.com I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you in advance.
turtle Try talking to an engineering student at a local university, they would probably love to help.
Guest I'm in the UK and can't find any stores selling 4-5" 3/4 pipe. Anyone think of an alternative for making the pins?
turtle Can you go to a steel recycling place and get some steel bar? 3/4" would be 19mm diameter.
david i dont think id trust wood, what if your knee goes out i dont know about that thing holding a few hundred pounds plus your weight when your squatting i just wouldnt trust it.
Michael Barry C, Great stuff you have here. I'm going to build mine VERY soon. I am getting into doing dips nowadays and I was wondering if it would be possible to put a dip station add-on somewhere on the power rack. If so, where on the power rack would I put it, and how would I build it? Thanks!! -Michael
Michael I finally made it!!! It's great!! Wayyy better than I imagined!! Really sturdy as well! If you get a 3/4" diameter pipe then make sure to drill 1-1/4th inch holes. My dad and I started with 1 inch and it was a TIGHT squeeze so we went with 1-1/4th inch. Also I used 4x6's for the posts and they are great!! I absolutely love mine! Thanks for the manual it's great!!!
Barry C. Michael - AWESOME JOB! Dad's rock, give him a high five! KEEP LIFTIN'!
GeraldH Great stuff here! Based on my garage dims, I'll be tackling this next week.
InTimmyDator After hemming and hawing I am going to build the rack taking some modifications from each person. Wood is plenty strong and the metal brackets on the corners look good, still trying to stay under the $150.00 price tag. I like the wood support for benching although its permanent. Nice job everyone.
InTimmyDator Got all the material needed....3/4 black pipe all for $100.00. What I did forget thou was the #14 wood screws. Those puppies are not cheap. I also want some chain for a safety support system for benching. I will upload pics when finished.
InTimmyDator Here is the finished product. I also incorporated my Marcy em/1 twin weight stack machine so that I could use the bench instead of buying a new one. Check out the pic of my homemade T bar rowing attachment.
Barry C. Nice Job! Did you manage to stay under $150?
InTimmyDator Right around $135.00. I had a support pole from my Parabody incline bench that I use to support the safety chains. That pole can also be used for chinups. After attaching it to the rafters with very small angle brackets, there is no movement or sway at all. Great plans for what my son and I need
Guest Hey Guys, New to the home-gym building thing and I'm liking what I see. Question: Wouldnt 4x4's be better for strength and also to keep the width of the rack as wide as possible, but still allowingthe collars from the bar to clear past them when racking? Just a Q Thanks
Barry C. You mean a 4x4 rack like this
Veto I have never really built anything since shop class way back in the day. What are some of your thoughts about my plans here? mostly 2x6s. 2x10 base, 49.5in outer clearance for the barbell collars. (can i get afford a bit more space here? Most bars i see have 51.5" between collars.) The weight rack in the back is a 4x6x4'. Has anyone thought about attaching their boards using carriage bolts instead of screws?
Guest Careful that the weights on the barbell don't hit off of the weights in the rack. They'll stick out quite far. Also, your measurements only give you 1" of wiggle room either side when you're racking the bar. Thats quite a small target if you're struggling.
Guest I am planning on building using bolts. As long as you build it square/plum screws would be fine b/c almost all of the force is downward compression and would has amazing compressive strength for its weight. Wood is not so good in tension but this is not applied in this situation.
Use bolts b/c it will make the joints strong and less likely to loosen over time. Moving the rack is much easer when using bolted components. Another idea is to use 2x4 blocking to attach the wider areas to allows use of shorter bolts which cost less. 5/16 bolts should be more than enough. You can also counter bore holes to hide the bolt ends use the shorter bolts.
Do leave at least 2" on each side for racking b/c the collar will slip off if you slide over too far and then your safety bars will be tested. To avoid having the rack in the way only use the inside for the top two bars and problem is solved. Also I would add a pull-up bar off the front so you have that as a bonus. Use 1" galv pipe and 2 flanges to make it support the front. 36" pipe with 2 flanges should work out about right if using 2x6. GL and post a pic when done.
Dan Hello, I've been in the hunt for a power rack recently but I don't know if I want to spend the funds on it (grad student, and lots of debt/loans coming in every year!) Of course, if you don't have a gym membership you save money there. But, I digress...
Homemade power racks seem like a good potential option. I'm training for amateur Strongman comps and was wondering if you think a homemade wooden rack could support 700lbs? I can't lift that much now, but I imagine I'd at least have 400lbs on the rack at any one point. Does the rack hold up well for, say, a failed lift attempt and crashing? And does the piping work well for safety rods? Or would I have to worry about them not holding up if a heavy lift failed? Definitely tough to beat the price on this rack but I want to know if anyone has tested it with heavy weight crashing down. Of course, I would hope that I wouldn't crash down any heavy weight... but the main point of a power rack, after all, is safety.
Bottom line: Would the safety rods and the rack itself hold up under700lbs that came crashing down?
Thank you, and very impressive building to those of you that have made this so far!
Guest Even with the 1" pipe instead of 3/4", you can put it through one hole in the rack and bend it very slightly by hand. 700lb would go right through it. The wood itself would hold a ton, its the screws/pipes that you'd need to upgrade.
Barry C. I'm not sure 700lbs would go right through a 1" pipe - (maybe bend the sh!t out of it), but you are right about the screws. Lag bolts would be better along with solid 1" bars maybe.
Guest Hey Barry Great web site. The whole idea of the safety rods are for the chance of miscue. Im sure if 400 lbs fell on them they would bent alot for sure, but they served there purpose. Throw them out get some new ones. But if your going to throw around 400-700 lbs, why mess with any rack but steel. The wood rack works great . My son and I have had 200 lbs on it. We havn't had a failure yet so the bars have not been tested. For our needs the wood power rack works great.
jostle First off thanks for the detailed plans and pics. I built this rack last summer and it has held up very well. It only took one day to buy supplies(~$120) and build. I routinely load up 200+ on squats, with no issues working out 3 times a week, since the build. I used 1/2" pipe and had to drop 215lbs on the safety bars from about 3' to the bars position @ around 2' with no ill effects. The comment regarding 700lbs is out of context, if you squat 700lbs I would think about investing in some professional equipment. Here are some pics of the build and completed rack Next improvement is to add some ceiling bracing and paint.
Guest Hi Barry, Thank you so much for all the effort you put into sharing all the details and tutorials. I'm so glad I found this page. I'll be starting on my build very shortly and can say that even though I don't have much (if any) experience in carpentry, I'm confident enough that I could put this together with your tutorial. Before I start though, may I ask what "Board Counts Required" (under Lumber Quantities Schedule) means? Sorry if it's an obvious answer. Thanks again!
Barry C."Board Counts Required" column gives you the quantity and type of board to buy. For instance the first column reads: (10) 2x6x96, so you need to buy 10 boards sized 2x6x96.
Guest What kind of lumber would you recommend for a secure build? So many types of wood out there, not sure which ones would be affordable yet strong enough. Thanks!
Tyler Hi I was just wondering...seeing from the rack that Shawn built, it looks as if there isn't much clearance between the rack and the ceiling to do complete pull ups. I've purchased all my lumber and the space between my ceiling and the 2 x 6 columns look very similar. I'd like to include the pull up bar but if I won't be able to perform complete pull ups as a result of the ceiling coming too close, I think I'd rather not put any more holes in the wood than necessary... I guess my question is more towards Shawn but any others who have an idea are welcome to chip in their intellect as well :) Thanks!
El Hi, I'm starting out and am pretty small (whopping 110lbs at 5'4), and I have a pretty small barbell (3'-9"). It suits me well, and I don't have any plans on buying a longer one. I like the hobbit feel. Haha. I was planning on making this rack so I can start out properly, do the workouts without added stressors. When I went over the standard sizes, I realized I'd be cutting the width practically in half so that it accommodates my short barbell (from 4'-3 1/2" to 2'-4"). I'd also be cutting down the height from 6'-8 1/2" to about 6ft. My question is, do you guys think I need to shorten the side length of 3ft as well (say, make it 2'-4" for uniformity), or is it alright as it is? Also, is having it more narrow gonna affect the stability of the thing (wobbling-wise and such when I do chinups/pull ups)? I don't lift heavy at all (starting at just 45lbs) so I'm not sure if I'm in a position to worry about this just yet, but it doesn't hurt to be ultra cautious. :D Any suggestions or advice would be suuuuuuper appreciated! firstname.lastname@example.org
Joshua Just another question about the weight. I am currently squatting 400. Has anyone tried this much weight to see if the top holders will hold it? Thanks.
Guest I am loving the ideas i am getting from the comments and other people's designs. i will put up pictures for sure when i am done. as i am looking at the design, how close could i feasibly drill the holes for the safety bars? I ask since i am not sure how high a bench would put my chest, and i do not want to 1) be limited on a lift and not be able to go down all the way but also 2) not have it so low i would get crushed on a missed lift. I am looking at 2.75" or 3" OC between holes, but i am not sure if that would weaken the beams too much. thanks
Guest Depending on what you're benching id say 3" would be fine. Worst case scenario you can still put some boards underneath your bench to adjust the height.
guner Hi, how much pounds its capacity for press?
Guest I weigh 80kg/175lb and can jump up and down on my 1" pipe without it moving at all. I'd go as far as saying each one could hold 2 of me, which would be 700lb total. Dropping that much weight from a height might do some damage, but i'd be confident with around 500lb.
Big Daddy Power rack/platform.
Barry C. Big Daddy...THAT IS SWEET!!!
d p On the plans, in the 'lumber quantities schedule', there is a column for 'board counts required'.
d p never mind. it's the number of boards you need to get, and then you cut them into the dimensions and quantities listed. duh? :)
Slawek Just finished mine. Thanks for the plans and all the comments.
Barry C. NICE! Painting the rack is a great final touch.
jeff What do you think of 4x4 columns instead of doubled 2x6s?
jeff what are those metal bars on the sides
jeff All right. I am going with number 10 wood screws and reinforcing all contacts with wood glue.
Tony I'm thinking about building a wood frame and buying 1" solid steel safety rods and also buying j-hooks built for a 3" square tube. I would need to drill my holes off center on the 2x6's to make it work, but I think it will be a nice addition. This would set me back $90 to add these two options, but i would still be coming in much cheaper than buying a power rack and I think this option would be very convenient. It should also allow the the power rack to handle relatively heavy weights. I think the wood frame would probably be sturdier than some of the cheaper steel frames.
Guest When I build my cage I just used some offcuts of pipe, and 0.5kg plates to make my hooks. Cheap little pipe clamps either side of the wooden upright, and either side of the plate hold everything extremely tight. As Eric said, solid bars will bend. The pipe I used had 3mm thick walls and I've yet to even scratch it.
Eric New to this site..in fact haven't even started lifting. But I'm an architect and know a bit about structural design and wanted to address some of the concerns/comments on the strength.
DO NOT GO WITH SOLID BARS. This will actually be worse than hollow pipe from a bending standpoint.
The easiest/cheapest solution for adding safety would be to double up on them. Put another pipe below the first one on each side. The first one can only bend/fail until the second one catches it a few inches lower.
You can also get thicker walled piping. Check a plumbing supply house and not a box store. Definitely going to cost more.
As far as 4x4 vs 4x6. This one's a little tougher. I'm used to designing buildings, which don't have dynamic (moving) loads. Rule of thumb is multiply 3x for dynamic. So using that, the short answer is using standard 4x4s should support a bar weighing 500lbs. YMMV, all standard CYA disclaimers apply. :-)
Barry C. Eric, doubling up of the pipes means you would need the clearance holes really close to each other or otherwise you take away the adjust-ability of the safety bars especially when doing the bench press were you want the bar to touch your chest. That's why high priced racks have really close hole spacing in the benching area. Thick wall piping would be the way to go.
Thanks for commenting about the 4x4 supporting 500lbs.
Eric Good point I pretty much thinking only of squats, not the other exercises. My bad for commenting having not started the 5x5 routine.
For those interested in the thicker pipe. The terminology has changed in the past couple years. The old names, that most places will still know about was "Schedule 40" for the standard stuff you can get at the hardware store. Thicker walled was "Schedule 80" or even "Schedule 120." Might be able to special order it at a box store.
Now I just have to get out from in front of a computer and join a gym or build one of these so I'm no longer the tubby weakling I've been my whole life!
Bill Pairaktaridis This is a great idea and I can't wait to implement it! Plus, the black one is looking amazing!
Guest these look so cool and beatiful.my only guestion is how much weight can the wood hold?? i can bench over 500 pounds and squat a lot more .whould these wook power racks take that much load? i hope so, cuz they look frinking amazing
Guest The frame would hold that much weight yes, but you'd have to upgrade the pipe to something a bit thicker, and maybe think about replacing some of screws with bolts.
Erik R How low is too low for the hole placement for the safety pins? I'd like to go as close to the floor as possible for the Olympic lifts, and am looking to drill the bottom of the post at about 8 1/2", taking into consideration the 1 1/2" inch boost from the bottom support. This would rest the lifting bar at about 10" off the ground, 1 1/2" higher that it would be resting on the ground with 45's. I know this will interfere with the interior braces, so I thought I'd go with the metal L braces like other folks have.
Guest You can just change the angle of the interior braces so that they fit if you prefer. I don't think it's possible to go too low, unless you wind up drilling a hole like an inch from the end of the wood! I have built one of these and they're really surprisingly strong.
Guest What would be the advantage of having 2 2x6's together as one leg.. Over just having one 4x6?
Guest Wood isnt a uniform material, so screwing together two 2x6's minimises the chances of the upright twisting as it dries, or from there being a weak point due to knots or other flaws that could run throughout a 4x6
C NZ Almost finished mine, got all the holes drilled, man those post holes took ages! I know what you mean about feeling it in your wrists, I have quite a grunty corded drill with no clutch that kicks like crazy when the spade bit gets stuck!!!
Thought I'd be smart and get a circular rasp drill-bit from a local hardware store to smooth out the holes, and the piece of junk snapped on the first hole, so took it back for swap, but they had nothing better, so wasted a few hours on that. So was back to rasp/filing them out by hand probably would have finished it today otherwise lol.
Nearly there though, got one side assembled one side though, pretty happy with that, I don't think it'll take long to do the other.
Will look a bit uglier than most of the pictures here, since I used mostly old lumber I found stored under the garage, a bit mildewy/dirty in spots, but it's good grade knot free stuff. The first side looks solid as.
Pipe fittings here are stupid prices, would have been about $120+ for the squat fitting things, so in the end I got a new pair of threaded dumbbells for $30, they fit sweet, with a couple of $1.20 .5kg plates instead of the pipe elbow things.
All up looking at easily below $100 so far. That's NZ money too, so less than $80US :) Pretty awesome, a commercial cage is about $1000 here.
Guest I put .5kg plates on spare pipe with some $1 pipeclamps. Imo they work better than the pipe fitting thing they suggested here.
Guilherme Eick Hello to everyone. I'm from Brazil and made my Power Rack one year ago. It can easily be disassembled. Since I used corners and screws. Here in Brazil a power rack cost US$ 2000.00 and is worse than mine. My Homemade Power Rack cost $ 500, using hardwood. I think (modestly) that my model was better than the original. Barry keep up the good work.
Guilherme Eick I forgot to say something important: Thanks Barry! Without your site I would never have done that.
Barry C. Guilherme, your welcome!
Ivan Thanks. I'm a newbie at this and you solved my issue.
Joe Finally finished my Power Rack today....
Barry C. Nice! Looks sturdy as hell....
xtraforus this is a snap shot of my own gym, i took the plan here. Just modified a bit to suit my needs. My whole gym cost me around 600$ Canadian. Most of my stuff was found on kijiji for cheap. Look at my video on you tube to see everything i have. The only i don't like about the power is that it is a bit too wide.. anyways feel free to look at my setup.
Lalo the tuffest neighborhood guy hey I was thinking about building my own power rack like these ones shown. A lot of creativity and thinking is involved when you build something. It is in our basic human manly nature to be builders. I want to make mine with bolts and screws that I could easily unattach them with basic tools, so if I move out I could easily take my home gym everywhere I go.
John Wood Here are some pics of my setup
Jorge How do you make the black one...like what do I need
Barry C. You need the plans (find the link in the article) and black paint!
halfftime (misc) really cool i just built my own rack using your plans as a guide... the thing is, i still can't figure out the piping used for the pegs. the pegs as in... the place to rest the barbell during bench presses and squats. what exactly are those piping materials called? also, i built mine very similar to the first rack and i've noticed that the two front posts are vulnerable to opening up an inch or two. i'm not exactly sure how to correct those problems...
Guest I accidentally installed the back posts flush against the back brace. I will cut the other pieces of wood to compensate. Will this cause any problems in the design? I'm slightly worried about not having enough foot space to get under the bar for squats.
Guest Can this support an Olympic bar with over 200 lbs loaded onto to it?
Barry C. Yes, as long as you build it according to the plans
Mark Lots of good ideas on this site. Thanks for all of the ideas. Here is my finished power rack. Now i just need the weights! This thing is solid, the only thing i went cheap on was the paint...
Bill Pairaktaridis I was wondering if anyone's made this with the ability to disassemble if need be, using bolts and screws. Sort of like an IKEA construction but obviously better.
Greg Finally finished my rack last night much to the missus relief! I live in the UK and have struggled to find some of the stuff to make this. Fist the largest easily available screw size is #12, so have used #12x70mm instead of #14's.
I have also used M8 Coach Screws with 25mm washers to secure the legs to the base (counter sunk under and flush on the sides).
Rather than using a spade bit to drill all the holes I bought a 30mm Auger bit, had no issues using a 14v cordless drill (apart from the occasional sappy patch), though it did use two full batteries per leg. A lot easier to guide plus my cordless has a handy spirit level on the end.
Getting hold of PSE 2x8 was a mission so I glued & dowelled two lengths of 2x6 together for the sides of the base - this also gives me a 4" raise off the ground (with Olympic discs) which is handy for Pendlay Rows and Dead lifts as I'm over 6'2" tall.
For extra strength I used 25mm bright steel bar for the spotter bars. The original plan only has 13 holes to position the spotter bars, when I tested my squat height etc I found they wouldn’t be in the right places so I wanted more holes. To avoid having lots of holes close together in a line which would weaken the uprights I staggered the holes.
For now I am using two spare dumbbells with collars as rack pins, I have a pair of old solid ones which I will use instead eventually but they need the inner collars cutting off.
I also have an old door frame pull up bar, I need to make an addition to the rear uprights to give this some extra support and add a strip of beading to the rear of part "B". All edges and holes routed... purely for aesthetics :)
Looking forward to giving this its first use!! Also quite pleased that the using two barbells you can do dips too which is kool.
Andrew Awesome article! I downloaded the plans and went for it! Thanks so much, this has saved me a lot of money!
Dan G Great plans. I had to modify them somewhat to fit in my limited space (height 74", width 76"), including having the safety bars double ended to allow them to slide in from the side. I used 2 kinds of rack pins, both seem to work well. I used 1" washers with pipe hardware.
Clint My rack. little taller and wider but the same all in all
Apr 05, 18 09:57 AM
New bar purchased last month, used only a few times, no damage, like new. I don't like it, ordered a different bar. Paid $395 plus $100 shipping. I will
Dec 29, 17 08:03 AM
I have a CAP workout bench (pictured) with four weights 2-30lbs and 2-50lbs (not pictured) Looking to sell to someone who wants it! Let me know by emailing
Oct 20, 17 04:32 PM
Ironmaster IM1500 Review. Quality gym gear that is space effecient at an affordable price