Long and Light Stuff:
Simple and Cheap
With Ladder Hooks
Bruce W. Maki,
For the past few months I've been on an "organizing
binge", trying to bring some semblance of order to my
overburdened and chaotic workshop, storage garage, and basement.
I've got lots of long, light and bulky items that aren't used often,
and getting them away from the main storage shelves seemed the best
thing to do. The last available space in my shop is the ceiling,
so I decided to try an idea for a quick and easy storage solution.
|The basic "J" hook, meant for
hanging ladders from the ceiling. This hook has a 5/16"
lag screw end, and is rated at only 25 pounds. But
that's enough for my light-duty overhead storage needs.
I got these for a quarter each at my top-secret
ultra-discount close-out bargain store. *
Home Depot sells some heavier J-hooks with 3/8" lag threads.
Those are rated at 50 pounds each.
The ceiling of my shop. There are roof trusses spaced at
24" on center, but you can't see them because the
kraft-faced insulation covers the wood.
The paper facing of this insulation is not supposed to be left
uncovered (because it will burn if it comes in contact with a
flame), but since this garage is not attached to the house, and
there are few possible sources of ignition, I'm not overly worried.
|I pre-drilled the holes for the J-hooks, using a
1/4" drill bit.
It's important to drill close to the centerline of the
bottom chord of the truss, to ensure that the screw has a good
I've been asked by a few people: How do you know what
size of hole to drill?
The diameter of the drill bit should be about the same as
the root diameter of the screw thread. The root
diameter is the diameter of the metal shaft at the bottom of
the little valleys on the threads. I just hold up a drill bit
directly behind the screw thread to see if the drill is about
the same size as the solid metal part at the base of the
threads. You have to close one eye to do this.
If the hole is too much smaller than the root
diameter then the screw will be hard to turn, and could break.
If the hole is too much bigger than the root
diameter, then the screw will be suspiciously easy to tighten,
and could pull out of the hole.
||I screwed in the hooks by hand.
|The first two hooks, which were screwed into the
same truss, were oriented so a board could rest on them.
||I stuck a piece of 1x4 on the hooks, and it just
happened to fit perfectly.
|I installed a second pair of J-hooks. The red
arrows point to the boards. (I should have painted the boards
white so they'd be more visible.)
What we have is two suspended parallel boards, six feet
apart. Each board is about 4 feet long.
||I loaded the rack with long materials, such as
electrical conduit and thin pieces of lumber. This might also
work for thin pieces of sheet goods, such as plywood.
|It seemed to me that a support board could
somehow get pushed off the J-hook, so I tried different
methods of securing the boards.
The first thing I tried was just tying the board with a
piece of mechanic's wire.
||A couple of cable ties applied in an X-pattern
seemed to hold well.
|A short strip of plumber's tape
(perforated steel strap) secured with two sheet metal screws
was perhaps the best method of securing the boards.
||The second rack.
I spaced these boards four feet apart, to hold shorter
items like skis and gardening tools.
Note how each rack occupies the space between the garage
door opener and a garage door track.
This was unbelievably easy. What baffles me is: why didn't I
think of this sooner?
Overhead Storage Solutions:
- Above the
- Any place with
open space overhead
- Cordless Drill/Driver
- Basic Carpentry Tools
- Ladder Hooks (J-hooks)
- Lumber, 1x4x8'
- Plumber's Tape
- Mechanic's Wire
- Cable Ties
* My source for the
J-hooks is a store called Townline Unlimited Bargain Barn in the
city of Manistee, on the west coast of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.
They have loads of tools and hardware, good and cheap. No, they
don't have a web site... they don't even accept credit cards.
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