DIY Boat Rack (with Step-by-Step Instructions)
Storing boats properly is essential to maintaining their longevity. A sturdy rack can protect boats from damage and allow them to dry out after each use. It also keeps your property tidy and your equipment easily accessible.
However, prefabricated boat racks can be expensive. Some racks designed to hold six kayaks can run close to $1,000. Building your own rack is a more cost-effective alternative and provides you with customization options that a prefabricated rack simply can’t.
Kee Klamp customer David found this out when he decided to build his boat rack using Kee Klamp fittings and pipe. Not only was he able to quickly assemble his own rack at a fraction of the cost, but he’s also able to dismantle the structure whenever he wants for easy transport and storage.
In this article, we’ll share the exact fittings David used to build his rack, as well as step-by-step instructions to bring it all together. Before you know it, you’ll have your own durable and customizable boat rack.
Let’s get to it:
David’s Boat Rack Project Details
As soon as he finished his boat rack, David reached out to let us know exactly how he built his project:
“I just built this knock-down 6 position canoe/kayak rack out of your fittings, galvanized 1" pipe, and 17-gauge galvanized chain link fence top rail. The bottom horizontal pieces and the vertical pieces are pipe, the rest fence rail.”
Using a combination of galvanized pipe and chain link fence top rail allowed David to build a structure he knew could bear the necessary weight, while also reducing costs for the project:
“Conduit is too flimsy, aluminum tube too expensive. The top rail is inexpensive and seems to be stiff enough.”
However, it’s important to use pipe that has at least a 1” diameter throughout the project. He explains:
“I considered using 3/4" galvanized pipe throughout, but was concerned that it might bend if mishandled.”
Smaller diameter pipes might not be able to sustain the weight and maintain integrity, but a pipe with 1” diameter can. Several other Kee Klamp customers have already built boat racks with 1” pipe and can attest to its durability. In this post, you’ll find we even offer a parts bundle for building a kayak trailer that uses 1” pipe.
Another design consideration for your rack has to do with modification. Prefabricated racks can limit you in the long run. If you want to expand your kayak or canoe collection beyond what your rack is designed to carry, you’ll have to look into buying a second rack. On the other hand, David’s design leaves room for growth:
“I made the vertical elements long enough to add another tier should I ever want to.”
By leaving your vertical supports a little long, you have the option of adding another level. Even if you don’t plan to have more boats, an additional top level is a great place to store paddles, stand up paddle boards, or even as a place to dry out life jackets.
Finally, if you want to ensure maximum protection for your boats, consider adding padding to your design. David thought of this while he was building his project:
“Inexpensive foam pipe insulation can be slipped over the horizontal elements to provide padding for the boats if needed.”
Whether or not you decide to add padding or another level to your rack, building your project with Kee Klamp fittings and pipe gives you the flexibility to choose while being easy on your budget.
Overall, David is very pleased with how the project turned out, stating:
"As is, after first assembly the entire rack can be assembled and disassembled in under 10 minutes, and once assembled easily picked up and moved by two adults. Yet is is heavy enough to not be knocked over by wind should boats be tied to it when a strong wind blows. I am very very happy with this rack. It cost me less than half the price commercially available racks of this type."
- Length: 28" (Configurable)
- Depth: 28" (Configurable)
- Height: 2' (Configurable)
- One Hour
- Allen Key
Steps to Build the Boat Rack
Although this boat rack can sustain a heavy load, assembly couldn’t be quicker or simpler. If you don’t believe us, take it from David himself:
“I can take this apart or set it up in under 10 minutes.”
To begin, start by sliding two Single Socket Tee fittings and one Combination Socket Tee and Crossover fitting onto the pipe that will be the bottom horizontal support. In the picture of David’s boat rack, these are the rust-colored pipes.
Use a hex key or Allen wrench to tighten the set screw in each of your fittings. This locks each fitting firmly into place, although you can reposition the fitting at any time by loosening the screw and moving the fitting.
When you’re ready, secure the perpendicular horizontal support into both Combination Socket Tee and Crossover fittings. Attach the legs of the rack to the Single Socket Tee fittings and finish them with a spigot.
Now it’s time to slide the vertical pipes into the Combination Socket Tee and Crossover fittings. Slide another Crossover fitting and Combination Socket Tee and Crossover fitting onto each of the vertical pipes, which you’ll use to attach the middle and top row of horizontal supports.
Finally, stabilize the rack by securing another perpendicular horizontal support into both Combination Socket Tee and Crossover fittings on the top row.
With that, your new boat rack is complete.
Start Building Your Own Boat Rack
Building a customized and adjustable boat rack has never been easier. With Kee Klamp fittings and pipe, you can assemble your project in minutes and still feel confident that you’re safely storing your boats.
Interested in building something more mobile? Several Kee Klamp customers have already shown how easy it is to convert almost any trailer into a kayak trailer. The best part is that you don’t need any building experience or the ability to cut and weld metal to get the job done.
If you have a different boat rack design in mind but aren’t sure which parts you need, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for free design assistance. Our projects team specializes in helping Kee Klamp customers build the project of their dreams and would be happy to help you do the same.