Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Easy to Build DIY Power Rack (Squat Rack)

Completed, easy to build, DIY power rack

One of the most versatile pieces of equipment in any gym is the power rack, and for a home gym it is even more useful because it can be used for most of the pressing exercises as well as a variety of squats, deadlifts, and rows. New racks can run anywhere from $500 to $1500 from home gym suppliers, and without any options available on craigslist I decided to build my own.

After doing a bit of research, I found this site with complete plans for a power rack made from 2x6 lumber. I made a few modifications to suit my needs and began work. The most obvious deviations from the plans at the above link is the addition of bracing in the top corners of the rack as well as the 3/4" plywood floor of the rack. I didn't originally intend to add the floor, but it helped square up the entire rack nicely and added to the stability.

As with any project, the first step is to choose your wood. While at the lumber yard I sorted through the stack of kiln dried 2x6s to find the straightest ones (I needed 13), and then once back in my garage I sorted them again to pick the absolute best eight which would become the legs of the rack.
Sorting through 2x6 lumber to find the best boards
After the leg boards were paired and out of the way, I took the next two flattest boards and cut them to 5'. These would become the feet that the rack would rest on. I also cut two more boards to 48" and screwed them to my feet at a right angle to create a shoe that would hold the legs of the rack from both the side and below.
Assembled base boards for the rack
Next is laminating the legs. Being careful to keep track of the "good" face of each board, I coated the inside of each board with wood glue and laminated them together. With clamps in place, I ran 2 1/2" screws through the back board into the front board to help hold the boards tight. Be careful to set your driver to a low torque setting when running the screws, since the laminated leg is only 3" thick and over-driving a screw could cause it to rupture through the face of the leg.

After letting the legs dry over night, I used a 1 1/8" spade bit to put the holes in the legs that would accept the safety bars and adjustable hooks (made from 3/4" pipe). So I wouldn't have to measure to each hole, and so that corresponding holes would line up between the front and back leg on each side, I first made a simple jig by taking a scrap piece of 2x6 and measuring and drilling all of the holes into that. Then I clamped the jig to each leg and used it as a drill guide to make sure the holes were all in the same spot (one tip I learned is to start the hole using the jig and drill about 3/4 of the way through each hole, then take off the jig and place a scrap of 2x6 behind the leg to prevent tear-out when finishing the hole). I also used a combination square as a reference to ensure I kept the drill relatively straight as I made the holes.
Drilling pilot holes into a scrap 2x6 to use as a guide

Drill guide clamped into place on one of the rack legs
Using a combination square to keep the drill straight
Once the legs are complete (the most time consuming step) it is time to move on to assembly. I used a 3/4" spade pit to drill counter sinks in the bottom of each base board to run lag bolts into the legs. I measured to ensure that I would put the lag bolt into the center of each 2x6, not the laminated center of the leg itself. After all the holes were drilled, I used a ratchet and a 5/16" socket to drive the lag bolts through the base board and into the bottom of the leg, making sure to keep everything square as I drove the bolt.
Countersink holes in the bottom of the base boards
I assembled each side of the rack on the ground and made sure to put in ample bracing using scrap 2x4's I had lying around the garage. If you don't have scraps, two 8' lengths of kiln dried 2x4 is more than enough for all of the bracing and will cost around $6 at your local hardware store. Once I was satisfied with the bracing on each side, I lifted them both into place and secured them with a 2x6 at the top back. I also used 2x4 to brace the back board to remove any side to side motion in the rack. I also drilled a 1 1/4" hole in each of the 2x6 top members to accept a 3/4" pipe I had bought to use as a pull up bar.
A braced side of the rack ready to be lifted into place

Once the rack was standing and fully secured, I added some additional bracing to the top front to remove the remaining wobble, making sure to leave myself room for the pull up bar. I also took two lengths of L shaped metal bracket and secured them to the back legs of the rack with washers and wood screws to prevent the bar from chipping away at the wood as weight gets racked. Finally, I took a section of 3/4" plywood and cut it to the inner dimensions of the rack and added it as a floor, securing it to the base boards with pocket hole screws. This step is an addition I made to the plans I used, but made the rack completely stable and square.
Squat rack with safety bars and pull up bar installed
The last step is building the weight hooks. To do this I used a 3 1/2" length of 3/4" pipe (pipe is measured by the inner diameter, not the outer) joined to a 45 degree turn and a 1" length on the front and secured with caps on both ends. An exploded view is below.
Exploded weight hook
Weight hook in position
And that's it! This is a moderately simple project that can be accomplished in a weekend with a few basic tools, and all for a fraction of the cost of buying a commercial power rack. 


  1. One of the most versatile pieces of equipment in any gym is the power rack, and for a home gym it is even more useful because it can be used ... ipowerrack.blogspot.com

  2. Dude takes the time to graciously post a step by step DIY. Which was one of the best in terms of simplicity to follow. Thorough and no internal dialog unnecessarily getting in the way. But, and yes I know it was almost 3 years ago, 'Peter' decided to take a post, hijack it, and use it to get some clicks on his blog. Dude didn't even acknowledge the post. He even flat out plagiarized the author's own title and just added his personal link. Why do I care. Criticizing a douche bag, which may make me worse than the offending party. There is no statute on commom courtesy and common decency. They aren't common, and so I wasted your time for my own selfishly cathartic rant. Yep... As for the author of this sweet DIY. Nice job bro. Really good post. Thank you. I'm going to give your build a try.