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    Post My DIY PVC Bumper Plate Rack - 2 racks for under $40

    When I built out my home gym, I purchased a set of bumper plates. I decided I wanted to store 1/2 the weight on each side of the squat stand to allow easy weight changes. I also don't have a lot of spare space, so I needed to make sure my solution was as compact as possible. Most weight trees are designed for metal plates of varying sizes and therefore won't hold a large selection of the larger bumper plates, so I decided to look at making a PVC rack.

    I looked online and found lots of different options and instructions for building a PVC rack. What I ended up with is a rack that uses some design queues from several different people. Specifically I used some of the measurements from the Garage Guy Gym, but my overall design is similar to this example.

    My bumper plate set includes a pair of 10s, 25s, 35s, 45s, and 55s plates. That means that for my rack, I wanted to have the ability to hold 5 plates. Obviously you can enlarge or decrease the size of your rack depending on the number of bumper plates you want to hold. So lets get started!

    Materials List - These materials will build two of the 5 section plate racks (one for each side of the squat stand).
    - 3 pieces of 10' 3/4" PCV pipe (I used schedule 40 pipe)
    - 24x 3/4" "T" fittings
    - 20x 3/4" 90 degree elbow fittings
    - 12x 3/4" 45 degree elbow fittings
    - 3 pieces of 3/4" pipe insulation - 6' long

    You will need some way to cut the PVC pipe. I used a simple hand saw and miter box (to keep my cuts square). But you can also use a powered miter saw or a PVC pipe cutter if you have one. You will also need some PVC cleaner and glue, but hopefully you already have some, or can borrow some from somebody. You don't need a lot and if you have to buy it, it adds about $10 to the cost and you will have tons left over.

    Step 1 - making the ends of the rack



    We need to cut and assemble the two ends of each rack (4 ends needed in total). The long sides are 8.5" long and slide into a 90 elbow at each end. At this length, the bumper plates will actually rest entirely on the ground while the PVC rack simply keeps the plates from rolling forward/backward or tipping over. My plates are 17 3/4" in diameter (standard size). If you plates are a different size, you will need to adjust the length of this end piece to ensure the weight rests on the ground and not on the rack itself.

    The short pieces (spacer pieces) are going to connect to the divider structure. The length of these first short pieces does not really matter. They can be as short as 1" (which will place the 90 elbow right against the first divider) or they can be longer. I cut mine to be 2" to allow storage of my small metal plates (2.5 & 5lbs), but they are a little short and the plates tend to tip over. I plan on cutting new sections that are 3-4" long to allow the plates to lean into the support arm without tipping over.

    Step 2 - Building the Dividers

    The dividers hold the support arms and are made up of a T section and a PVC spacer pipe. The PVC spacer piece needs to be the correct size to allow just enough room for the plate to fit between the support arms, but not so much excess space that the plate can tip over. To come up with the correct measurement for the spacer piece, you simply have to take the depth of your plate and add 5/8" to come up with the length of the space pipe. For example, my 10lb bumper plates are 1" thick, so I cut the spacer pipes at 1 5/8" long. My 25lb plates are 2" thick, so I cut those spacer pieces at 2 5/8" long. 35lb plates are 2 5/8" thick, so the spacers are 3 1/4" long. my 45lb plates are 3 1/4" thick, so the spacers are 3 7/8" long and my 55lb plates are 3 1/2" thick, so those spacers are 4 1/8" long. You will need to cut a total of 4 of each size spacer - 2 per side in each rack = 4 total.



    Looking at the image, starting at the top of this image I have....
    - 90 elbow (the top pipe which connects the two sides together is 8 1/2" long - as built in step 1)
    - end spacer section - this could be as short as 1" which would place the 90 right against the T section, or any length you want it. In this image, it is 2" long
    - 1st T fitting
    - 1 5/8" spacer which gives me the correct spacing for my 10lb plates
    - 2nd T fitting
    - 2 5/8" spacer for my 25lb plate
    - 3rd T fitting
    - 3 1/4" spacer for my 35lb plates
    - 4th T fitting
    - 3 7/8" spacer for my 45lb plate
    - 5th T fitting
    - 4 1/8" spacer for my 55lb plate
    - 6th T fitting
    - end spacer which in my case is 2" long
    90 end

    *** Please note it is very important that you do not glue anything together at this point. You will want all the joints to be moveable when we start placing the divider arm sections in the base section. You want to make sure all the pieces are seated on the PVC pipe all the way, but do not glue anything yet. ***

    Step 3 - Building the Support Arms

    To start building the support arms, we need to combine a 90 elbow with a 45 elbow by placing a 1" section of pipe between them.



    When you press the three parts together, you should end up with this (the 1" pipe is completely hidden and simply connects the two pieces together).



    Now we need to add the longer PVC sections to the support arms. The pipe on the left (going into the 90 degree fitting) is 9 5/8" long. The piece on the right (going into the 45 degree fitting) is only 8 1/2" long. Again, these measurements are accurate only if you are using plates that are 17 3/4" in diameter.



    I added pipe insulation to each side. You can cut the left side insulation at 8 1/4" long and the right side at 7 1/4" long. I decided to use the insulation after noticing that the bumper plates could hit the T fittings on the base which caused dings in the rubber. The insulation is thicker than the T fittings and therefore it prevents the bumper plate from being able to cone into contact with the T fitting. I would consider this step manditory to prevent damage to your plates. All my spacer measurements also assume you are using the insulation.



    Here is a close up of with a plate in the rack. Notice the plate is sitting on the ground. You can also see how the insulation acts as a spacer and prevents the bumper plate from coming into contact with any part of the T fitting. Without the insulation, the edge of my bumper plates were coming into contact with the top of the T fitting which caused chips to be broken off my plates.



    Step 4 - Assembling the Support Arms onto the Spacer Assembly

    Now it is time to fit the arms into the T fittings on the support base. You will need to rotate the t fittings some to make everything line up. This is why it is important that you haven't glued anything together yet. Once everything is fitting well, make sure you press everything together tightly.

    If you are OCD like me, you will want to make sure that all the printing on the PCV pipe is pointing down and they seems on the insulation running along the back of each arm. This will give you the cleanest look.

    Last edited by TheScrawnyDude; 10-08-2014 at 12:46 PM.
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    Step 5 - Marking Your Joints

    Before you disassemble anything, you need to mark all of your joints with a Sharpie or other permanent marker. This way you know exactly where to glue each piece and ensure everything is lined up properly. If your T fittings aren't exactly where they should be, you will never be able to attach the support arms after gluing everything up.

    Mark the top of the support arms where the 90 degree elbow and the 45 degree elbow connect.



    Mark all of the T fittings along with their spacer pieces to ensure you can put them back together exactly in the same orientations.


    Another option would be to mark the bottom of the support arms where the arm fits into each T fitting. You could then glue up the support arms as a unit (including the t fittings) and then simply add the spacer pieces (which wouldn't need to be marked). But for me, the insulation covered up the T fitting connection with the support arms, so it was just easier to mark the bottom of the support structure.

    Step 6 - Glueing

    Once you have all of your joints marked, you can disassemble everything. You might want to try to reassemble everything dry one more time just to make sure you have marked everything accurately and understand how it will all go back together again. Once you are comfortable with the reassembly process and can do it without having to adjust any parts during the reassembly process, you are ready to glue.

    Glueing PVC joints is a two part process - cleaning/priming the joints and then glueing them. Apply the primer to the inside of a fitting and the outside of the PVC pipe. Just be sure that you don't clean off your joint marks! Once the two parts of a joint are cleaned, you can then glue them together. It is generally easier if you start pressing the two parts together with the joint marks slightly off, and then twist the two part until the joint marks are lined up. You only have a couple of seconds to do this before the glue hardens. Don't worry however, there should be plenty of time as long as you don't dilly dally around.

    Glue everything in the same order as we built it. Glue the dividers all together into a big unit, glue support arms together, and then glue the arms into the divider base.



    That's it! Hopefully you have two usable PVC racks to store your bumper plates in. I really like how mine turned out. They sit low enough that I can place them right next to my rack and they won't interfere with my squatting or bench press. They are also close enough that I can quickly change out the weights without expending a lot of extra energy.

    Let me know if you have any questions and please post your results if you make some yourself! Good luck!

    Last edited by TheScrawnyDude; 10-08-2014 at 12:38 PM.
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    Gandalf of the Gym cmarti063's Avatar
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    I'm all for innovation, but it is easier, more durable, and cheaper to build them out of 2x6 lumber and drywall screws.



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    Originally Posted by cmarti063 View Post
    drywall screws.
    Carpenters everywhere are rolling their eyes
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    Originally Posted by Mech6 View Post
    Carpenters everywhere are rolling their eyes
    don't forget the end grain
    tecom rated 100% patriot

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    God of Slowdown Synthetickiller's Avatar
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    My football team had a similar set up outside that supplied water to everyone.

    Hook this thing up to a tap, make it taller & provide an easy on, easy off valve, and you're done, my friend. Market that thing as "Bumper Storage H2O."

    Include a bonus hopper for your favorite supplement. Hell, bonus hoppers, each on a time release for whatever the hell you want to take. "Forget shaker cups, get Bumper Storage: Protein Shake edition."

    Just remember, include an extra tube so you can flush the protein later. No need to pop it in the dish washer, just rinse & go!
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    Gandalf of the Gym cmarti063's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Mech6 View Post
    Carpenters everywhere are rolling their eyes
    Ha! I'm no carpenter, I just pick up moderately heavy things.

    Edit: I use wood glue too, if that makes it better
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    Originally Posted by TheScrawnyDude View Post

    Let me know if you have any questions and please post your results if you make some yourself! Good luck!
    That bench in the background - Have you discussed the build of that anywhere? Id like to know more about it - Looks good! Wondering how you did the incline support?

    Cheers.
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    I'm not sure where op gets his plumbing fittings, but in my part of the world, all of those supplies would cost at least as much as the rest of op's gym.
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    Originally Posted by daniel327 View Post
    I'm not sure where op gets his plumbing fittings, but in my part of the world, all of those supplies would cost at least as much as the rest of op's gym.
    Really? Not here. PVC is dirt cheap. Have to go to an actual plumbing supply house however. Not Home Depot or anything.
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    You can even get them cheap at Home Depot or Lowes. Look for the contractor packs for the best price. For example, at Home Depot a 25 pack of 90 Degree Fittings is only $4.39, and a 10 pack of T Fittings is only $2.37. That being said, Mech is right - they probably are even cheaper at a true plumbing supply store via their counter sales.
    Last edited by TheScrawnyDude; 10-09-2014 at 10:03 AM.
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    Originally Posted by TheScrawnyDude View Post

    If you are OCD like me, you will want to make sure that all the printing on the PCV pipe is pointing down and they seems on the insulation running along the back of each arm. This will give you the cleanest look.
    A few drops of acetone or nail polish remover and a paper towel will remove all of that printing on the PVC Pipe and leave a nice smooth finish.
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    Originally Posted by Synthetickiller View Post
    My football team had a similar set up outside that supplied water to everyone.

    Hook this thing up to a tap, make it taller & provide an easy on, easy off valve, and you're done, my friend. Market that thing as "Bumper Storage H2O."

    Include a bonus hopper for your favorite supplement. Hell, bonus hoppers, each on a time release for whatever the hell you want to take. "Forget shaker cups, get Bumper Storage: Protein Shake edition."

    Just remember, include an extra tube so you can flush the protein later. No need to pop it in the dish washer, just rinse & go!
    Hopefully Rogue sees this...how long until we see these in our local crossfit boxes???
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    Originally Posted by MonkeyT View Post
    That bench in the background - Have you discussed the build of that anywhere? Id like to know more about it - Looks good! Wondering how you did the incline support?

    Cheers.
    Actually I found the bench at PlayItAgain sports for $25. It doesn't look that great, but it is actually pretty sturdy. There is a piece of square tubing coming off the incline bench portion. It has holes drilled in it and a pin to set the height. It works fairly well. I'm sure I'll end up replacing in eventually, but it was a steal for the price, especially since I had blown the budget already - the cost of my flooring was higher than I had planned (originally didn't plan on 2 layers of plywood under my mats).

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    Originally Posted by snova031 View Post
    Hopefully Rogue sees this...how long until we see these in our local crossfit boxes???
    That was not my intent, but at least if I ever had the dismay to add to the crossfit lifestyle, it would at least be through something positive like hydration.

    It would never fly though... it's not paleo.
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    Originally Posted by TheScrawnyDude View Post
    Actually I found the bench at PlayItAgain sports for $25. It doesn't look that great, but it is actually pretty sturdy. There is a piece of square tubing coming off the incline bench portion. It has holes drilled in it and a pin to set the height. It works fairly well. I'm sure I'll end up replacing in eventually, but it was a steal for the price, especially since I had blown the budget already - the cost of my flooring was higher than I had planned (originally didn't plan on 2 layers of plywood under my mats).
    Ahh What kind of upholstery is it? It looks to be a fabric, I assumed it was home made as most are leather look. Thanks for the close-up, looks real sturdy, great buy for sure, thats a nice thick box section frame.
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    Excerpt from Starting Strength

    Most benches are provided with some type of vinyl upholstery, but auto seat fabric has proven itself over the years to last longer and provide better traction for the back during the lift.
    Clive, you're a good guy. - AttyGuy

    ()---() York Barbell Club #62 (DD) ()---()
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    Registered User TheScrawnyDude's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure the bench was recovered at some point, but that's how I bought it. I'm not sure if it is auto fabric or not, but I actually do prefer it to the slick vinyl that most benches have. Who ever recovered it didn't do a great job tucking the corners, but it works just fine and isn't pulling apart or anything.
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    Originally Posted by CliveWarren View Post
    Most benches are provided with some type of vinyl upholstery, but auto seat fabric has proven itself over the years to last longer and provide better traction for the back during the lift.
    Good point about the traction! Auto fabric, didnt think of that. Might think about covering one of mine in fabric, may even get a logo embroidered into it:-) Thanks for your feedback.

    Originally Posted by TheScrawnyDude View Post
    I'm pretty sure the bench was recovered at some point, but that's how I bought it. I'm not sure if it is auto fabric or not, but I actually do prefer it to the slick vinyl that most benches have. Who ever recovered it didn't do a great job tucking the corners, but it works just fine and isn't pulling apart or anything.
    Cool. For that money, cant go wrong. The frames the all important part, and that is certainly looking strong. Thanks for your replies.
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    Originally Posted by cmarti063 View Post
    Ha! I'm no carpenter, I just pick up moderately heavy things.

    Edit: I use wood glue too, if that makes it better
    If you are using carpenter's glue then the kind of screws you're using really aren't much of a factor. Drywall screws may not be the ideal choice for a wood project, but in this case they are simply clamping the wood together while the glue dries. Glue forms a stronger bond than even the best of screws. I know some carpenters who remove the screws entirely after the glue dries.
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