08 January, 2015

Easybuild Compact Rifle Rack

I had a need to build this compact rifle rack to fit inside a closet. The requirements were that it had to;
  • be easy to build
  • fit a range of rifles from short carbine to long rifle size
  • be stable
  • fit in a 460mm(18 inches) space.
I built this little rack out of reclaimed pine shelving which came from a warehouse which closed down.

Read all the way to the bottom if you are interested in one of these racks

My finished compact rack
The reclaimed shelving I got from freecycle. It is about 20mm (6/8 inch) thick, close grained pine, with very few knots. The closer the grain the slower the growth and generally the stronger the wood.

The reclaimed shelving was quite grubby
I drew out the shapes for the rack and cut them on the table saw and the hand held jigsaw. after a fair bit of sanding with the orbital sander the wood began to show through. It was very messy, and the worst kind, dust!

A part sanded board
Options for fixings were, screws, dowels, glue but I decided upon #0 biscuits. Biscuits are a wooden spline which sits in a slot cut by a biscuit jointer. These are glued making for a much stronger joint than simply with glue alone.

Biscuit jointer, a biscuit and the joint
With all the parts cut, sanded and the edges rounded over on my router table with a round-over bit, I was able to dry fit (with no glue) all the parts together for a first look. This next image lets me explain how the rack will work. The fore-stock of the rifles will rest against that wavy top rail. The gummy-bear shaped hole on the base allows two thirds of the butt-stock to sit in the hole while one third of the but stock rests on the base plate but not in the hole. This causes the rifle to tilt slightly backwards and rest against the wavy top rail. If this works the rifles should be stable enough in the rack.

The biscuit joints allow it to be test assembled without glue

Ok, I am happy with the design, now for the glue-up and clamping after checking for square. Note that I used "Gorilla Glue". This was an experiment, usually I would use a PVA based glue for furniture. On reflection, if I were to build another I would go back to a PVA based glue. I have now read several reports where PVA glue beats expanding polyurethane glues like Gorilla Glue, hands down in almost all situations. Click here to see a video of PVA versus Gorilla Glue.

I never have enough clamps

Here is the finished piece. Is it stable? Yes it is! I am able to pick up the entire loaded rack and move it around without the rifles all toppling around. Does it take a range of rifles? Yes it does!

L to R: AUG Carbine, SIG 552, XM177e1, M14, Lee Enfield No4.

Was it easy to make? Yes, with the correct tools, particularly the biscuit jointer. Other tools I used are my table saw, jigsaw, table router and round-over bit a mallet and some clamps.

Small but mighty

Does it fit the 460mm (18 inch) space? Yes it does with a size of 460mm wide (18 inches), 300mm deep (12 inches) and 610mm tall (24 inches)

In situ

In conclusion, I think the design worked really well but if there were a next time there are only two things I would do differently:
  1. I would use a PVA glue and not a Polyurethane based glue, and
  2. I would not use a reclaimed board, I would build it from nice furniture grade Birch plywood.
IMHO, This project was definitely a success. I have still to give it a finish. I will probably use Danish Oil or even a dark stain. When i make up my mind I will post another photograph.

If you are interested on building your own, if I get enough people wanting to purchase a self assembly kit to make it financially feasible I may make a few self assembly kits available. All you would need to do is glue it up and paint. I would do all the cuts, jointing and supply the biscuits.

Update: I have added another blog post with relatively detailed technical drawings here.

Otherwise, if a self-assembly kit might interest you please click here.