I'm calling the surfboard rack in this blog the Norton Rack because of the following history. An undisclosed amount of years ago I decided to build my own surfboard rack in my garage. I sketched out a rough design on paper and ended up spending around $80 in lumber and parts. I made a functional rack that holds up to 5 boards, but it wasn't cheap and took a long time to build. It's basically a couple of 4x4 pressure treated posts that I drilled 1 1/2 inch holes into at 90-degree angles and fitted wooden dowels into them covered in pipe insulation. The surfboards are simply rested flat onto the rack. Besides from over constructing my rack, the other obviously drawback is since I surf primarily longboards and they are rested flat on the rack; long fin setups do not allow many boards on one wall. I think I had a 12-15 inch separation only allowing for 5 boards. It works and I'm sticking to it because it works and if it's not broken, don't fix it right? Then I saw my surfer friend Norton's rack that he constructed in his living room of all places (sometimes it's great to be a bachelor)! Like me, he used his brain to design his own surfboard rack. The brilliance factor that sets his rack apart is he designed it so the surfboards rest at a 45-degree angle from the wall. This allows more boards with fins attached on less wall space. He also used PVC pipe instead of lumber, which is easier to work with, cheaper and less weight requiring less hardware.When Burns told me he needed to build a surfboard rack like mine I suggested Norton's idea. The more we talked about it the more we liked it and modified it.... so behold the 3rd Generation Norton Surfboard rack!
Norton's rack featured a system of PVC pipes at 45-degree down angles with PVC elbow joints at the ends to keep the surfboards from falling into "ding land." After talking it over in the hardware store, Burns and I decided to flip flop the entire rack and build it with the 45-degree angle going upward. This would eliminate the need for 12 elbow joints and provide cost savings. It also provides more safety in that the weight distribution is pushing toward the wall instead of pulling away, plus there is no way a board can accidentally become knocked off and fall onto the concrete floor.
The Materials You Will Need
* Approximately 32 feet of 1 1/2 inch schedule 40 PVC pipe.*
* 6 PVC female Y-joints for 1 1/2 inch pipe.
* 24 feet of pipe insulation (we purchased five 6-feet sections and had leftovers)* PVC cement and cleaner* Bag of large plastic zip ties
* Eight 4-inch long by 1/4 inch width lag screws
* Eight 1/4" washers for the screws
* Something to saw/cut PVC pipe (we used a chop saw)
* Drill and bit sized for the lag screws* Socket set to ratchet the screws into place
* Measuring tape, pencil and stud finder
* Knife or razor blade (for cutting pipe insulation to fit and zip ties)
* Beer and surfboards for when you finish
Get to Work
This should take you 1-2 hours depending on how fast you work. You'll be surprised at how fast and easy it is to construct once you have all the materials. First, plan out the section of wall for your quiver. Make sure to allow a few extra inches more than your longest board for a safety zone. Dinged noses and tails are NO BUENO!Now use your stud finder to find the studs behind the drywall and mark them with a pencil. You'll want to consider what size surfboards you ride and own when determining how far apart to mount both sections of the rack. We chose a distance that would hold the shortest board we could ever imagine riding. If you're wall space is concrete or something other than drywall with studs ask the dude at the hardware store what is the best mounting option hardware. Next, use the tape measure to mark off the sections of 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe you will be cutting and make the following cuts:12 - 24 inch lengths (these are the arms to rest the boards upon)2 - 6 inch lengths (these are the top pieces)10 - 8 inch lengths (these are the sections between Y-joints)All together you will be making 24 cuts. Get to work and try not to cut off your thumb!
Once you are good and covered with PVC dust and have all your cuts made it's time for the fun part! Seriously, it's kind of like an Erector Set or a LEGO set. Look at the pictures in this blog to see how it all goes together. We found it easiest to fit together the 8 inch lengths with the Y-joints first and mount them to the wall BEFORE installing the 12 inch arm lengths. We "eyeballed" the Y-joints when it came to making them even and straight because we're not OCD engineers or anything, not that it's a bad thing if you are, but if you are and you need to know that your surfboard rack is perfectly straight an easy way to ensure this is to use a stick, string and weight. Simply tie a weight to a string attached to a straight stick and let it hang out of the Y-joint while you are cementing it into place. Look down at the weighted string and make sure it is even with the Y-joint below it before the cement sets. Continue doing this as you erect the rack.
Drill 1/4 inch holes into the pipe at the sections you want to mount to the walls first. Then use a slightly smaller bit to drill the remaining hole into the drywall and stud (this insures a strong fit). We used two screws down low and two up high on each side. Use your ratchet to tighten down the screw and washer, but make sure not to over do it. You don't want to crack the pipe you crackhead!Once both sides of the rack are mounted to the wall it's time to cement in the twelve 24 inch lengths. Easy as cake!Oh and don't forget the two 6 inch lengths at the very top in the top Y-joint. That's the backing for the surfboard at the very top!
You're almost there! Take a razor blade and cut the pipe insulation to fit each arm and use the zip ties to secure them in place. You'll also want to use the insulation against the back of the surf rack and around the top two 6 inch lengths as these are spots that the surfboard rails will be touching. Use zip ties on these as well. Aren't zip ties awesome? Sometimes I think all you need in this world are zip ties and duct tape!
Guess what? You're done! You now can store 6 boards with fins on an eight foot section (floor to ceiling) wall! Radical! Gnarly! Bitchin'! Yay for intelligent surfers!
It's probably a good idea to let the PVC cement fully set before using the rack (check the label on the cement). That sentence is purely a CYA for this blog. In real life.... we immediately placed surfboards on the rack to see what they'd look like and we were NOT disappointed. In fact, we decided to have a cold beer to celebrate our 3rd generation Norton Surfboard Rack!
And then I ran a 4-miler.... seriously, I did and it felt great with that beer inside me!
*At the hardware store it was cheapest to purchase the PVC pipe in 10 foot sections. We purchased 4 sections and ended up with a lot left over. If you shave 1 inch off the arms and a 1/2 inch off the sections between the Y joints you can probably get by with three 10 foot sections for additional cost savings, but that's cutting it close.