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Thread: Feedback on my power rack design

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cody Annino View Post
    This is one of those things that's pretty much always easier and safer if you just pony up the money and buy a quality power rack. I've just never understood wanting to build a rack out of wood.
    Define "quality power rack". Only the cheapest budget picks on this (link) are cheaper than the ~$350 I'll be spending to build this. People want to build a rack out of wood because it's cheaper. You make it sound so simple to "just pony up the money", but some of us don't have a money tree in the backyard.

    Also, if you question the ability of wood to support the weight, you clearly haven't spent much time looking at the framing of a typical house or deck. Yes, care does need to be taken with the design, but if a wood rack isn't strong enough, it isn't because it is made out of wood. It's because it was poorly designed.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewLewis View Post
    I agree. Especially since rectangular tubing and c-channel is so available. You could literally google "weld shop" or "machine shop" near me, go there with Starting Strength and tell them "I want this" pointing to the CAD, and they could do it.

    It's not like barbells.
    Do you know where I can get the CAD for the Starting Strength rack? I'm skeptical that it is available. Also, I doubt that it could be made for less than the ~$350 I'm spending to build the rack I've designed. From what I've been able to find, just the C-channel by itself (i.e. no other materials or labor) costs ~$75 for a 8 foot long, 3 inch wide by 1.5 inch deep piece of metal (source: link). Add in 2x 3 foot long cold-rolled spotter bars at $25 each (source: link), and you are already up over the $350 I'm going to be spending on this rack. I have no idea how a machine shop would buy four of those plus the other materials needed and do all the machining required to build a rack for less than $500, let alone get it down anywhere close to $350.

    Ultimately, I'm building my rack out of wood because I can get all the features I've seen in any store-bought rack for less money.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlewis3348 View Post
    Do you know where I can get the CAD for the Starting Strength rack? I'm skeptical that it is available. Also, I doubt that it could be made for less than the ~$350 I'm spending to build the rack I've designed.
    The CAD is in this book.

    A machine shop won't build this for less than $750. It'll probably be more like $1000-$1500. I never said it would be cheap - just that it would be available.

  3. #13
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    May 2019
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    I'm going to agree with Andrew and Cody here. And I actually built a half rack out of wood. I guess it would be more accurate to say a squat/bench stand with built in safeties. I don't have a lot of space (apartment) and a suitable steel setup simply wasn't available in March. But I've never thought of it as anything but a temporary solution. Plus, the stand design solves a lot of the problems that you run into with a full rack.

    I'm on my phone so I'm not able to navigate the cad link much. What dimensions of lumber are you using for the uprights?

    You are going to want some bracing across the vertical and horizontal members. Are you planning to use bolts at the corner joints? Structural lag screws would be better. Framing ties would be the best but I assume you may want to be able to disassemble this at some point.

    Setting aside the obvious problem of your adjustable height j-hooks and safeties, are the j-hooks going to be wooden too? I don't see how you could join two pieces that short together in a way that would stand up to any significant weight or repeated use.

    The weak points are going to be the joints, the j-hooks, and the safeties.

  4. #14
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    It looks like you are planning on cutting v-grooves along the uprights? Curious how you would do that accurately but I'm not a woodworker so maybe that's a trivial operation. Also seems like it would have durability issues. Anywhere a bar touches that thing is going to be a wear problem.

    The biggest functionality problem I see there would be the width between those huge uprights. I could not grip a bar that narrow. Followed closely by being a pain in ass to adjust the height. I would much rather deal with discreet holes.

    If I were quoting the SS rack for someone I liked, it would probably be about $1000. If they wanted to drill all those 1-3/8 holes themselves it would be significantly less. The reason I have a pretty good idea of what that would be is that I looked at it carefully and decided I'd rather just pay someone else to do it.

  5. #15
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    Well, it sounds like you have it all figured out. Good luck.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewLewis View Post
    The CAD is in this book.

    A machine shop won't build this for less than $750. It'll probably be more like $1000-$1500. I never said it would be cheap - just that it would be available.
    Ah! I have the book. Just haven't looked at the last few pages yet. That's helpful.

    One of my biggest motivations for building this out of wood is that it is significantly cheaper. I've posted here to try to see what the design is lacking when compared to its metal counterparts so the compromises that must be made can be minimized. I've already received several ideas for how to improve the design, which I very much appreciate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ericw View Post
    I built my SS rack for around $650 without the floor. Pickled the steel and drilled all the holes myself and had it welded at a local shop. Currently working on the second one to put in Jiu Jitsu gym we attend. They are very good racks.

    We originally had a wood rack but it quickly became frustrating to use. If youÂ’re going to build, build steel.
    The rack I've designed is going to be slightly more than half the price you paid to build yours. Also, I do not have the tools to drill a 1-3/8" hole in metal, so the price for me to have it built would be significantly more. I understand quite well the value of steel, and if my budget weren't so constrained, I'd definitely be using steel, but I think (and I very well could be wrong) I'm minimizing the compromises as much as possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt James View Post
    I'm going to agree with Andrew and Cody here. And I actually built a half rack out of wood. I guess it would be more accurate to say a squat/bench stand with built in safeties. I don't have a lot of space (apartment) and a suitable steel setup simply wasn't available in March. But I've never thought of it as anything but a temporary solution. Plus, the stand design solves a lot of the problems that you run into with a full rack.

    I'm on my phone so I'm not able to navigate the cad link much. What dimensions of lumber are you using for the uprights?

    You are going to want some bracing across the vertical and horizontal members. Are you planning to use bolts at the corner joints? Structural lag screws would be better. Framing ties would be the best but I assume you may want to be able to disassemble this at some point.

    Setting aside the obvious problem of your adjustable height j-hooks and safeties, are the j-hooks going to be wooden too? I don't see how you could join two pieces that short together in a way that would stand up to any significant weight or repeated use.

    The weak points are going to be the joints, the j-hooks, and the safeties.
    The uprights are 4x6 posts cut in half lengthwise, which results in the two pieces being 3-1/2"x2-3/4".

    I would like for it to be at least somewhat able to be disassembled (i.e. at least be able to remove the parts connecting the two sides). I'm currently using carriage bolts to connect everything. I'm probably going to be gluing the parts on the sides together (which may obviate the need for bolts, but I haven't decided on that yet).

    Thanks for the suggestion on the bracing.

    I'm currently in the process of redesigning the j-hooks as there are indeed several issues with the current design.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Beckham View Post
    It looks like you are planning on cutting v-grooves along the uprights? Curious how you would do that accurately but I'm not a woodworker so maybe that's a trivial operation. Also seems like it would have durability issues. Anywhere a bar touches that thing is going to be a wear problem.

    The biggest functionality problem I see there would be the width between those huge uprights. I could not grip a bar that narrow. Followed closely by being a pain in ass to adjust the height. I would much rather deal with discreet holes.

    If I were quoting the SS rack for someone I liked, it would probably be about $1000. If they wanted to drill all those 1-3/8 holes themselves it would be significantly less. The reason I have a pretty good idea of what that would be is that I looked at it carefully and decided I'd rather just pay someone else to do it.
    I'll be using a v-groove router bit (examples: link) to make the grooves. It could also be done with a circular saw set at a particular depth and a 45 degree angle (you'd have to make two passes to cut each groove). Ultimately, the most critical thing is that they have consistent spacing that matches the blocks supporting the weight since inconsistent spacing will result in a few grooves bearing all the weight. This will be tedious and be the most time consuming part of the build (which is why I was trying to avoid it), but should not be difficult.

    I am currently redesigning the j-hooks to prevent the bar from coming in contact with the uprights as wear would be an issue there. Thanks for pointing that out.

    I can get the opening to be as large as 37-1/8". That's about 4" narrower than the Starting Strength rack. What would you say would be the minimum width opening I should have?

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlewis3348 View Post
    The uprights are 4x6 posts cut in half lengthwise, which results in the two pieces being 3-1/2"x2-3/4".

    I would like for it to be at least somewhat able to be disassembled (i.e. at least be able to remove the parts connecting the two sides). I'm currently using carriage bolts to connect everything. I'm probably going to be gluing the parts on the sides together (which may obviate the need for bolts, but I haven't decided on that yet).

    Thanks for the suggestion on the bracing.

    I'm currently in the process of redesigning the j-hooks as there are indeed several issues with the current design.
    I have 3 suggestions for you, since you seem committed to building this.

    1. Use GRK Rugged Structural Screws (lag screw alternatives) instead of carriage bolts. They're much stronger and quite easy to drive in. When was building decks we used them to tie-in the ledger board to the frame of the house. They're also likely easier to find than grade 5 or 8 carriage bolts. I guarantee they will hold better, too. And you can take them out easily enough if you want to disassemble it.

    2. Instead of ripping 4x6s (seriously, this is going to be challenging even with a good table saw, and impossible with a cheaper one), sister together a pair of 2x4s for each half of the upright. I would use shorter GRK RSSs for that. This is how I made the uprights for my half-rack.

    3. Give some thought to how you could make permanent j-hooks and safeties. If you're the only one using it, you don't need to adjust the height, and this would allow you to use the 4x6s without ripping them. Now, obviously your bench safeties would be lower than your squat safeties. What I did, was build a frame at the bench safety height, and then make it so I could slot in a 2x4 edgewise on top of that, which is a good workable height for my squat safeties. Using your rack design, you could put a beam between the uprights at the bench safety height, and perhaps use a metal bracket on top of it to slide in a piece of lumber to give you the appropriate height for your squat. This would stabilize the whole structure quite a bit, too.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlewis3348 View Post
    I can get the opening to be as large as 37-1/8". That's about 4" narrower than the Starting Strength rack. What would you say would be the minimum width opening I should have?
    I guess that just depends on your grip width. I can't get much tighter than putting my index fingers on the knurling marks (32" wide I think), so if it were me I think I'd want 40" min. You want a little room to be off center and not pinch your hands, and you want a little room on the outside of the uprights so you aren't hitting the collars and banging weights on them.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt James View Post
    I have 3 suggestions for you, since you seem committed to building this.

    1. Use GRK Rugged Structural Screws (lag screw alternatives) instead of carriage bolts. They're much stronger and quite easy to drive in. When was building decks we used them to tie-in the ledger board to the frame of the house. They're also likely easier to find than grade 5 or 8 carriage bolts. I guarantee they will hold better, too. And you can take them out easily enough if you want to disassemble it.

    2. Instead of ripping 4x6s (seriously, this is going to be challenging even with a good table saw, and impossible with a cheaper one), sister together a pair of 2x4s for each half of the upright. I would use shorter GRK RSSs for that. This is how I made the uprights for my half-rack.

    3. Give some thought to how you could make permanent j-hooks and safeties. If you're the only one using it, you don't need to adjust the height, and this would allow you to use the 4x6s without ripping them. Now, obviously your bench safeties would be lower than your squat safeties. What I did, was build a frame at the bench safety height, and then make it so I could slot in a 2x4 edgewise on top of that, which is a good workable height for my squat safeties. Using your rack design, you could put a beam between the uprights at the bench safety height, and perhaps use a metal bracket on top of it to slide in a piece of lumber to give you the appropriate height for your squat. This would stabilize the whole structure quite a bit, too.
    Great suggestions. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Beckham View Post
    I guess that just depends on your grip width. I can't get much tighter than putting my index fingers on the knurling marks (32" wide I think), so if it were me I think I'd want 40" min. You want a little room to be off center and not pinch your hands, and you want a little room on the outside of the uprights so you aren't hitting the collars and banging weights on them.
    Thanks for the insight. There's no way I could get 40" of space with my current design, but since I might be reworking things based on Matt's feedback above, I'll definitely keep this in mind.

  10. #20
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    starting strength coach development program
    I was considering building my own rack out of wood to save money and accommodate my relatively low basement ceiling. However, I am very happy that I made the decision to forgo that idea and purchase a Rogue SML -1 Monster light squat stand for $365. I also purchased the safety spotter arms for $162 and a bench, but if you couldn't swing the cost of all three initially, you could get the stand which would allow you to squat, pull, clean and press immediately and begin benching when you could afford those other components. Just a thought. Good luck.

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