How to Build Your Own Outdoor Canoe Storage

How to Build Your Own Outdoor Canoe Storage
If you own a lakeside cabin or are running a summer youth group, you might need to construct your own canoe storage rack---a big job that will require a lot of labor, some basic carpentry skills and probably a helper to add a second set of hands. It will also require one to two days to complete. However, your labor will result in a long-lasting outdoor storage rack that can store any number of canoes, keeping them out of the worst of the elements.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Erecting the Rack

Things You’ll Need:
  • Chainsaw
  • Telephone pole or long fence posts
  • Measuring tape
  • Stakes
  • Hammer
  • Shovel
  • Posthole digger
  • Mattock
  • Quick-setting concrete
  • Level
  • Ladder
  • Carpenter's angling tool
  • Treated plywood
  • Galvanized nails
  • Treated 2-by-4 lumber
Step 1
With a chainsaw, cut a telephone pole or a pair of very long fence posts into two 9-foot-long long poles.
Step 2
Select a plot of level ground relatively free of rocks, and mark a pair of points with stakes for postholes. Using a measuring tape, space the posts apart based on what you intend to store there. For example, typical tandem canoes measure between 15 and 18 feet long. Since you want the ability to easily place the canoes on the support beams, the ends of the canoes should extend beyond the beams (and posts) by several inches. Therefore, space the posts 14 feet apart for tandem canoes.
Step 3
Using a shovel, posthole digger and mattock, dig postholes 2 feet deep and 4 inches wider than the posts (so if the posts measure 5 inches wide, dig 9-inch-wide holes).
Step 4
Mix quick-drying concrete and pour it into a posthole to about 2/3 full. Set a post in the hole. Either hold it in place manually while the concrete dries, or nail on a 2-by-4 and wedge it into the ground to offer support. Check the post with a level to make sure it stands in a straight and vertical position. Repeat the process for the other post and hole. Fill in the remainder of the hole with leftover dirt when the concrete has hardened.
Step 5
Determine the number and size of crossbeams to set between the posts. These will both offer rigidity to the storage rack and hold up the canoe storage beams. Base the number of crossbeams on the kind of canoes you intend to store and their height. A typical tandem canoe measures about 8 inches high at the bow and stern, for example; for this example, make your crossbeams 14 feet long, and space them at least 16 inches apart (double the height of the canoe) for both flexibility and ease of storage. Save 1 foot of post height for the roof. Divide the height of the posts (6 feet, or 72 inches) by the space necessary (16 inches) and round down the result to determine the number of support beams your rack can accommodate (4.5 rounded down to 4).
Step 6
Saw your crossbeams to fit your measurements. Cut two crossbeams for each set of support beams you'll install, so our example will require eight 14-foot-long beams. Measure and mark equidistant positions along the height of the posts, leaving out the part you are saving for the roof, which would measure 6 feet in this example. Therefore, the actual space between beams will measure 18 inches, due to the rounding off from Step 5. Nail the beams into place at every marking, one on each side of the post. Use two nails at every fastening point.
Step 7
Mark and saw your support beams. Size them according to the width of the canoes you expect to store, plus some margin for flexibility. Keep in mind you will store canoes on both side of the rack. For example, if you want to store 36-inch-wide canoes and have 5-inch wide posts, 82-inch beams give you an extra few inches of margin on both sides of the rack.
Step 8
Nail the support beams onto both the crossbeams and posts. Lay the supports so that their wider face rests on the crossbeams, their sides lie flush with the posts and the middle of the beam sets along the center of the posts. In this example, 41 inches of the posts should extend out from the middle of the posts. Drive two nails vertically through into the crossbeams and one nail diagonally into tthe post at each fastening point. Install a pair of support beams for every set of crossbeams.

Installing a Roof

Step 1
Measure the real height of your fence posts, from the ground to the top. Then mark a place on the outside of the posts, roughly a foot from the top, compensating for differing heights. The posts probably won't have the same height, due to slight differences in digging your postholes; keep this in mind for installing your roof. If one measures exactly 7 feet tall (84 inches) and the other 85 inches, mark 12 inches down on the 7-foot post and 13 inches down on the slightly taller post.
Step 2
Saw a pair of beams matching the length of the canoe support beams. In our example, they will measure 82 inches long. Nail these roofing beams to the inside of the posts to the points marked in Step 1 with two nails each.
Step 3
Use a carpenter's angling tool to establish a 30 degree line from the ends of roofing beams to the top of the fence post. Measure this distance---47.3 inches, in our example. Check with the other post and its roofing beam to make sure you've made equal measurements. Cut four diagonal beams with your saw to match this measurement, and then mark the ends with 30 degree lines and saw those off as well.
Step 4
Set two diagonal beams on each roofing beam so they form a triangle. Nail them together with two nails at each corner.
Step 5
Measure and cut a four more crossbeams to connect the roofing triangles. In our example, cut them 158 inches long (14 feet minus the widths of the posts, because the triangles lie on the inside of the posts). Nail these onto the roofing triangles.
Step 6
Measure and cut two rectangles of plywood to set onto the roofing triangles. Following our example, we need a roof that extends beyond the width and length of the canoes, so a good rectangle would measure 18 feet long (the longest typical tandem canoe) and 44 inches wide (a little wider than the canoe supports). If you wish, make this rectangle from multiple smaller rectangles of plywood.
Step 7
Fit together the rectangular plywood planks, and nail them to the roofing cross-beams.

Tips & Warnings

Install asphalt roofing shingles to add extra life to your canoe rack's roof.
If necessary, scale down this rack design to smaller applications. For example, if you only need to store one or two canoes, you do not need a 7-foot tall rack that can handle eight canoes. Adjust your measurements downward accordingly.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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