Thursday, October 20, 2016

Vertical Pipe Storage Rack

When designing the vertical sheet goods rack I built for my father's shop a few months ago, I had intended to put a pipe storage area on the end, but left that part of the project for another time. I like the idea of storing pipe and conduit, and similar long narrow objects, vertically. I think they are more space efficient that way, and they are less prone to warping or sagging. Well, I finally got around to finishing it.
I wrestled with the design for a while before settling on a sheet of 3/8 inch plywood with 12 inch pieces of EMT conduit sticking out of it, and laying on a slight angle. The conduit will keep the upright pipes organized into bays, and keep them upright. The plywood will give the pipe support while it gently leans against the end-cap of the sheet goods rack.

My ceiling is 10 foot high (and most of the pipes I put here are 10 feet long), so I needed to turn an 8ft sheet of plywood into a 10 foot sheet of plywood. I did this by butting up a 2 foot section at the end and splicing the two together with a scrap strip of plywood about 5 inches or so wide. I used wood glue on the splice (which was placed on the underside of the plywood) and clamped it all together under weights until the glue was good and cured. Since the majority of the weight of the pipes would be on the floor, this splice should be plenty strong enough.

Unfortunately, I seem to be missing some of the photos of the early stages of the project. If I find them, I will edit this post and add them.

To keep the pipes upright, I cut 3/4 inch EMT electrical conduit into 12 inch sections. I planned to use a forstner bit to drill holes through the plywood in three rows of four. The EMT would be fitted into these holes and stick out from the plywood to create arms that would keep all the pipes from falling over, and keep them separated into bays so I could keep everything organized.
My forstner bits were either too large or too small to make a good fitting hole for the outer diameter of the EMT, so I went with the closest size that was on the small side, and cut a slit in the end of the EMT with an air grinder and a cut off wheel. By removing this little bit of material, I could pinch the end of the EMT so that it could fit into a smaller hold for a snug fit.
The 3/8 inch plywood would not give the EMT enough to anchor into. Any pressure along its length would cause it to either pull out of the plywood or lean significantly to the side. To combat this, I added strips of "2-by" dimensional lumber across the back of the plywood. I used scrap 2x8's recycled from an old bed frame, which I ripped in half, making boards that were approximately 2"x3.5"x48".
I used wood glue and some screws to attach the 2-by across the back of the plywood, width-wise. I spaced these out to try to accommodate the lengths of pipe I expected might be in the rack.

Once the glue was dry on the strips of 2-by, I started drilling the holes for the EMT. I didn't want the EMT poking out the back, so I set the depth of the holes to stop just shy (maybe 1/8 of an inch) of going all the way through. I used a piece of masking tape on the drill bit to help gauge when to stop.
 I would need four EMT posts (plus the wall the rack would be butted up against) to make four bays for my pipe storage. I made the two outermost bays slightly smaller, and the last bay slightly larger.
Next, I started inserting the EMT posts into the holes. I used a generous amount of 5 minute epoxy both in the hole and on the end of the post before ramming the slotted end of the post into the hole with a small sledge hammer, making sure that each was as straight as I could get it, and that each was bottomed out in the hole.
I needed some kind of base to keep the bottoms of the pipes separated and to keep them from kicking out along the concrete floor and letting them fall. For this I used another piece of 3/8 plywood, 48"x 22". To create a short lip around the edge to keep the pipes from kicking out, and to create separations for the bays, I used some more of that recycled bed frame. This was glued in place, and a few 2 inch brads were added for good measure. As you can see, the bay separators do not run the entire depth of the base. This is because the plywood panel will not be straight up and down, but will be sitting on a slight angle.
To keep the whole unit from possibly sliding away from the sheet goods rack, should it get bumped by something, I added a small lip made out of plywood. The lip would be screwed to the bottom edge of the sheet goods rack, keeping the new addition anchored. The lip was also added to the base with glue and brads.
Here, you can see the base has been installed on the end of the sheet goods rack.
And here you can see the upright plywood panel with EMT posts has been installed, with the top leaning against the sheet goods rack (with a couple of screws securing it) and the bottom is kicked out about 6 inches. I found a perfectly sized 2x6 that fit beautifully in that space at the bottom, locking the upright panel in place. I didn't do anything to secure the 2x6. It was just laid in there, so it can be removed easily.
And finally, here is the rack all finished and loaded up with pipes and conduit, and a little lumber.
Some of the pipes are a bit of a tight squeeze. The base takes up just a little bit of the height I need. The pipes are 10ft. tall, and so is the ceiling. being on a slight angle gives me just a little extra room. If I had it to do over, I think I would make the rim around the base a little bit shorter. That would make it easier to set some of those really long pipes in place. But over all, I am quite happy with how it turned out. My pipes are much better organized now, and I think they take up less room in the shop. Well, make more efficient use of the space, as technically they still occupy the same volume of space.

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