DIY Garage Kayak Racks: Fast, Frugal, and Effective

Today I want to share with you one of my recent home projects… Frugal and effective DIY garage kayak racks.

As I’ve continued down the path of voluntary frugality, I’ve gotten more and more interested in DIY projects of all kinds. Whether or not you’re handy around the house, most frugal homeowners eventually jump on the DIY bandwagon.

Benefits of doing it yourself

  1. You control the quality. When you do it yourself, you’re in complete control of the quality of workmanship. I know some folks are very particular, and others who just want to hurry up and get it done. DIY gives you the power to do everything according to your own standards. I naturally tend toward anal retentive, but my increased focus on time management is helping me find that healthy balance between quality and time spent.
  2. You control the effectiveness. As with any project that you tackle yourself, the solution you create will be as effective as you want it to be. I am a stickler for effective equipment. Store bought products rarely meet my needs precisely, so DIY allows me to design something that’s perfect for my personal situation.
  3. You control the cost. This is a big one… We all know that I love to save those greenbacks. When you DIY, you can decide exactly how much to spend in light of your desired quality and functionality.
  4. You learn as you go. When you start tackling your own home projects, you might be rather ignorant. By the time you finish, however, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a handyman. And being a handyman is, well… Handy!
  5. You can take pride in the job. I do 95% of my work with my mind, so few things give me more pleasure than getting my hands dirty with some physical labor. I grew up in the country with livestock, a wood stove for heat, and acres of mowing, so… Doing some actual labor makes me feel like I’m home again. And few mental jobs can rival the pride you have when you lay your eyes upon a finished project — at least not for me.

I’m sure there are more benefits, but will stop at five.

While there are benefits to store-bought solutions, there’s rarely a “one size fits all” solution that fits my needs precisely, so I prefer DIY over store bought whenever possible.

A real-life example: kayak racks

I recently decided that I needed some kayak racks in the garage. As it turns out, my solution took more time to conceptualize than to implement. The design is incredibly simple, but perfectly effective. Like I said above… I’m pretty proud of this project.

The materials:

Keep in mind that I made two sets of racks, so I had to double the materials and costs listed below.

  • 2 x bungee cords – Just normal bungees will do. I used 2′ cords, but you can use whatever length you need for your situation.
  • 2 x 16×11 L shaped brackets – Get the kind with holes for mounting as well as holes in the end for attaching the bungees.
  • 2 x 2″ eye bolt screws – I recommend the closed eye hooks so the bungees are less apt to slip.
  • 6 x 2-1/2″ wood screws – A lengthy screws provides more support.

Total cost of materials from Lowe’s was around $18 per rack set. Since I built two, I spent about $36.

The tools:

Before starting, you’ll need the following tools.

  • Power drill
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Stud Finder
  • Screwdriver
  • Carpenters level

The process:

Obviously, you don’t have to follow this exact method… Remember, it’s your project, so feel free to make whatever changes you like.

  1. Decide where you want your kayaks to go, and remember to measure for length. Remember to space your brackets to provide sufficient support, and also be sure to line them up on studs. Once you decide on a spot, use your pencil and level to mark where the tops of the L-brackets should be. Also be sure to mark where the holes in the L-brackets are so you can drill pilot holes.
  2. Drill the pilot holes for the L-bracket support screws using a drill bit slightly smaller in diameter than your screws.
  3. Drill the holes for the eye bolt screws in a place that will allow the bungees to wrap around the boat and attach to the eye hole loop. The goal here is to position the bungees such that they’ll hold the boat in place on the L-brackets.
  4. Screw your L-brackets securely into place with wood screws through each anchor hole in each. Before you screw in that 2nd bracket, double check to be sure everything is level… Then screw it in too.
  5. Screw your eye hole screws into their respective holes.
  6. Now load your boat onto the L-brackets and stretch the bungee cords from the tip of each bracket to the corresponding eye bolt screw. Voíla! You’ve now finished your very own DIY garage kayak racks for very little money and very little labor.

Here’s a picture of the finished product…

diy kayak racks

If you’re looking for kayak racks, I highly recommend this design.

If not, I hope that I’ve at least provided a bit of inspiration for tackling other projects around your house. Good luck!

9 Responses to “DIY Garage Kayak Racks: Fast, Frugal, and Effective”

  1. Anonymous

    @K&K: Yeah, I thought about doing that too, but I ended up with this solution because it puts no extra stress on the frame.

    Like I said in the article, “As it turns out, my solution took more time to conceptualize than to implement. The design is incredibly simple, but perfectly effective.”

  2. Anonymous

    Look great – I plan on building a rack like this for my kayaks one day, but hadn’t thought of using bungees like this. I had thought about hanging the kayaks by their cockpit coamings, but your method doesn’t appear to put unusual stresses on the frame.

  3. Anonymous

    Hey Matt, your #5 was me! YOU made me feel proud of BEING ME. I think I speak for all of us that overcome the depression that push us to trade that 30% savings of joy for “weekends of leisure” as bodark put it.

  4. Anonymous

    Hey those saved a lot of space in the garage! Not expensive either. Thanks for the reminder that we can do things ourselves cheaply. We just say we don’t have the time, etc.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  5. Anonymous

    With no embillishment, I have: replaced Central Heat and AC, leveled foundations, changed windows, moved 220 lines, replaced over head doors (including the reportedly deadly torsion spring), along with many other random home and auto projects….

    I have no license, no formal training and every tool I own is at home depot (my day job in case your are drawing a correlation is Pension Plans, so sorry at a keyboard all day like most of us). Savings?? Rounded out, you save 30% on a job you do yourself. Which means you can spend the extra savings on the “upgraded” dishwasher, and ensure the craftsmanship is perfect as your patience level.

    Contractors and mechanics are in business, that’s why you are encouraged to “Leave it to the professionals”. But there is also some value in the professionals, Your Saturday! The 30% savings can also buy you many weekends of leisure, rather than 15 trips to Home Depot.

  6. Anonymous

    We do almost everything ourselves from roofing our house, remodelling, constructing buildings. We purchased a frontloader/backhoe tractor, and it makes everything doable such as digging foundations, etc. We even dug out the side of our hill to install a hot tub. Very cool. It’s saved us thousands. I’ve also made money on the side by selling my book collections. I made over 100 dollars selling textbooks and books to You have to be creative and not afraid of hard work to save and make money.

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