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Quick & Dirty Plate Rack
Greg Everett

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Plate racks are a rip-off. There, I said it. They require minimal, relatively low-quality steel, and aren't exactly remarkable feats of engineering. Instead of spend money on expensive plate racks (most of which aren't that great anyway) that could be put to better use buying... plates... we threw together some simple racks that can store both a full set of bumper plates and the metal change.

The following is a simple guide to doing the same yourself. Keep in mind the thickness of our plates may be different from yours. Make sure you measure the gear you intend to store before cutting your pieces.

What You'll Need (per rack)
  • (6) 17" lengths of 2x6"
  • (2) 35" lengths of 2x6" (make sure to measure what you'll need for your own plates)
  • (2) 1" x 4" x 17" (cheap pine is fine)
  • (1) 1" x 6.5" x 17" board
  • (2) 1.5" lengths of 1x4"
  • 2" and 3" drywall screws (lots)
  • Drill, bits, Tape Measure, Square, Pencil

Cut Your Wood

Make all your cuts and collect the pieces. If you're patient and meticulous, sand all edges.

Assemble the Change Rack

Mark a line down the center of one of the 17" lengths of 1x4 - this will be 8.5" from either edge. Place one of the 1.5" lengths along the line. Drill pilot holes and screw together.

On the opposite side of the 17" board, repeat the previous, but with the 1.5" piece on the other side of the center line.

To one of these 1.5" pieces, attach the second 17" board with the edges aligned with the first. Finally, screw the 1x6.5x17" board to the bottom of this assembly, with the outside edge of the open 1.5" piece flush with one of the long sides.

Assemble the Frame

Next, assemble the frame of the rack by placing one of the 17" 2x6s at each end inside the two 35" 2x6s. Drill and screw. You may want to leave the screws somewhat short of fully tightened to account for possible variation in the remaining 2x6 dividers.

Insert the Change Rack into the Frame

Slide the assembled change rack into one end of the frame, and enclose with another 17" 2x6. Drill and screw this 2x6 into the long sides of the frame while pushed tightly against the change rack. Next, make sure the top of the change rack is even with the top of the frame, and drill and screw it in.

Install the Bumper Dividers

Insert the remaining 17" 2x6s between the frame and drill and screw into place. For our bumpers, the spaces were 5.5", 5", 4.5" and 3.75".

Finish and Use

Paint the rack if you want, and load it up!

Greg Everett is the owner of Catalyst Athletics, head coach of the national-medalist Catalyst Athletics weightlifting team, publisher of The Performance Menu, author of the books Olympic Weightlifting: A Complete Guide for Athletes & Coaches and Olympic Weightlifting for Sports, director/writer/producer/editor/everything of the documentary American Weightlifting, and fifth-place finisher at the USAW National Championships. Follow him on Facebook here and and sign up for his free newsletter here.

More from Greg Everett

Catalyst Athletics   Performance Menu

RyanS 2009-01-31
freakn awesome! im tired of stacking my plates on the ground... im guna build one of these today - will let you know how it goes
Matt Dyson 2009-03-13
Thanks Greg, great idea, I built one today for my steel plates and will build another one for the bumpers that arrive Monday. Cheers
steve shea 2010-01-02

Cheap, practical, and attractive! Three of my favorite qualities/attributes. I am going to use your plans and build one of these, too.

BTW, if you add glue to the joints they will be basically indestructible--much stronger than a joint that is fastened with screws alone.
Shaun Baskerville 2012-05-22
I have a set of 10, 25, 35, 45. Are your measurements for these bumpers? Great job and thank you
Greg Everett 2012-05-22
Shaun -

Plates of the same weight can be quite different in thickness (we use kg plates, not lbs, btw, so they're 10, 15, 20, 25 kg). So yes, essentially, but you need to measure the plates you have and adjust the rack accordingly.
Mitch 2013-01-22
I just came back to this article for reference and damn, those bumpers have changed. Every once in a while I watch the daily catalyst videos and, if they're the same ones, they definitely have some character now.
Stone 2013-03-26
Hey what kind of paint did you use to paint the plate rack?
Steve Pan 2013-03-27
We used basic latex paint to paint them.
Nick 2013-08-26
About to build one of these,

Did you leave much play for the thickness of the bumpers to make it easier to get the plates in and out of the rack?

eg. two 25kg bumpers are 5" thick so witdth of 25kg bay 5.25" or 5.5"?

Hope that makes sense
Steve Pan 2013-08-27
Nick -

They are not much over the 5" but leaving a millimeter or so to allow some room for both plates should be okay.
T'boo Ted 2014-02-02
What is the length if I cut off that last section? So from front edge to second to last 17" slat.
John T 2014-06-30
Built a pair this weekend, modified to hold singles in each size of plates on either side of my rack. Under 30 bucks in material and a few hours of time. Very useful information, much appreciated Greg.

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