You've surfed Rogue Fitness, Craigslist, LetGo, OfferUp, Dick's Sporting Goods and even Walmart and you haven't found a squat rack you like or want to spend $500 on, transport and construct. Work, learn and improve your skills by building your own.
Why I went the DIY route:
1. I have a great home gym set up with rubber mats, TRX, bungees, physio ball and dumbells but there are times where I need a good old fashioned barbell for myself and my Crushlife Acres clients.
2. Affordability: The costs of the new and used racks I found online, combined with shipping and/or pickup and construction gave me pause, this was right around $100 all in
3. I'd rather spend my money on weights than a rack
4. I love carpentry projects and this one is pretty simple
5. I have a great friend from high school who designed and built this and convinced me I would love it
6. What's cooler than a home gym, at a Douglas Fir tree farm, with a Douglas Fir squat rack?
Things to consider:
1. Unlike a metal rack, this will need to be anchored to a wall or ceiling beam. Wood is not as stable as metal, so take that into consideration when you look for places to put it
2. If you plan to squat 300+ lbs. this may not be a good fit. I pursue high reps, quickness, endurance in my workouts and this can hold 225 no problem, but I wouldn't stack 4 plates on this thing.
3. This can be built at whatever height you wish. I'm 6'3" and wanted to be able to hand all the way down for pullups so I built my 9' tall. This will be up to you.
4. Complete beats perfect. Even if you are a rookie carpenter, if you follow this plan and use enough screws and good lumber the only key will be getting the holes lined up accurately, other than that, this is very easy and doesn't have to be perfect to be effective!
Any project like this starts when you go pick up the lumber. I loaded up my 4X8 trailer behind my Tacoma and headed out to pick up:
9 - 10 ft. 2X6's
2 - 8 ft. 2X6's
2 - 8 ft. 2X4's
2 boxes of 3", star bit screws
Step 1: 4 main posts
I cut all of the 10' 2X6's to 9 feet and glued/screwed them together, I did this over the course of 2 nights so I could use my small number clamps get them really tight. I put the screws 18 inches apart, one on each side all the way down.
Take your time here, put the stamped side of the lumber to the inside, spread the glue out using a popsicle stick, use clamps to deal with any misshaped boards and to squeeze them really tight.
Step 2: Drilling the holes
This is the hardest part of the project. If you don't have a drill press (I don't) you will need a beast of a drill, preferably an electric one. I have a Milwaukee drill that I pull out every so often, drilling 1 1/8" holes through 2 2X6's worked it very hard.
In order to make sure the holes lined up perfectly for what would be the front and back posts, I stacked and clamped the 2 posts – 4 4X6's in total – on top of each other and drilled down as far as I could. I was able to get clear through the top post and then took the clamps off and finished the holes on the bottom post. Not ideal, but they came out good and line up very accurately. There is blowout on the backside of the holes but the front looks good and no one will see or care about the the way the back of the hole looks...again, complete beats perfect.
Step 3: Cut the rest of the lumber
I recommend looking at the list on the design and cut all of the other pieces in swoop, get them all done, lined up and ready. With the posts complete, its just 3" screws and building from the ground up. Not a bad idea to have a friend, but not necessary.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The only error I found in the plan is that the diagonal supports are listed as 2X4's, these should be 2X6's.
Step 4: Construction
Start with the 2X6's that provide the base or skis for the posts. The front post fits flush to the front of the ski and the backside of the back post goes 3 ft. back. Put 4 screws in the bottom of each post.
With the skis attached, move to the side boards on the bottom and then the knee braces, or diagonal boards (important note on those is bold above).
Next, move on to the top boards that run along the side of the squat rack, attaching the tops of the left posts and the right posts to each other.
The next step is where you may need some help and/or a ladder, it's time to connect the left side of the squat rack to the right side. Start with the top back board which will keep the rack upright and then move to the bottom back board and finish with the front board that sits between the 2 sides and measures at 4' 3.5".
Step 5: Anchoring the rack
My great friend who created the plan anchored his squat rack to a ceiling beam in his garage, which ideal. By anchoring overhead you are able to limit any movement in the rack as you do pull ups. In my case, my gym is in my shop and has really high ceilings so I anchored mine to the wall of the of the shop using the strategy pictured below. I anchored it in 4 locations, 2 up top and 2 lower.
My rack does wiggle a bit when I jump up and the grab the pullup bar, not a big deal to me. It is plenty strong for everything I need to do and I weigh about 200 Lbs.
Step 6: Steel
As far as holding your barbell goes, there is a drawing on the plans above that shows one option. A simpler way to do this is listed below.
2 - 6" 3/4" steel bars
2 - 3/4" floor flanges
3 - 60" 3/4" steel bars (one for pull-ups, 2 for spotter bars (I have yet to add these)
2 - 3/4" adapters, female on both ends
2 - 3/4" spacers, male on both ends
2 - safety pins
Put these parts together like they're shown below. Place the bar through the rack, drill a hole as close to the rack as possible on the back side, insert the safety pin or cotter pin and you're done!
With all of this complete you can drill your holes for the pull up bar and get that in and attach the caps to each end. This drilling could also be done prior to construction. I did it after the fact, from a ladder, not ideal. Note: Not a terrible idea to go 1" hole and pullup bar.
Next up, you screw on the caps for the spotter bars and slide them in at whatever level you choose. Then drill a hole close to the back post that your cotter pin will fit through. Place the cotter pin through the hole and now your spotter will stay put and can be easily moved up or down by removing the cotter pin. Again, I haven't added these and probably won't. I don't foresee myself doing much super maxing on this rack.
So happy with how this turned out and I just got my barbell yesterday after lots of shopping for used weights! Just to have a place to do pullups has already been great, can't wait for my first leg day on this! Good luck with your barbell shopping.
“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
There is a video below that lays this out and talks it through.
Rise. Shine. Crush.