Mike Zilkowsky sent in this solution to store his out-of-control collection of paddles. Zilkowsky decided to build a DIY rack to hold all the paddles that were leaning against various walls or buried under fishing gear in his basement. Here are the specs and step-by-step instructions for his masterpiece.

How to Make a DIY Paddle Rack

Materials Needed

  • 7 boards, 1” × 6” × 5’. I used pine, but my next one will be out of a nice hardwood.
  • 45 wood screws, 8 × 1 ½”. You’ll need three on the end of each board, nine along the top of the “L” (back brace and top rack) and six to secure the bottom two boards together.
  • Wood stain
  • 1 ½” spade bit for all holes. This allows kayak paddles to pass through the holes and canoe paddles to rest against them.
  • 7/64” drill bit for pre-drilling
  • Drill
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenter square
a DIY paddle rack with paddles
Organize your out-of-control collection of paddles with this DIY paddle rack. | Feature photo: Mike Zilkowsky

DIY Paddle Rack Instructions

1 Draft Your Design

I wanted to store my kayak and canoe paddles and to make sure it would be usable for SUP paddles, so I modified my design as necessary.

2 Source the Components

Pick up the necessary materials, available from your local hardware store, and lay out your design.

3 Measure and Mark the Boards

Measure and mark the locations for holes into two boards for the top and bottom rack. I made my holes 1 ½” and spaced them as follows from the right end of the board. 4 ¾”, 6 ¾″, 14 ¾″, 16 ¾″, 24 ¾″, 26 ¾″, 34 ¾″ and 36 ¾″.

Alternate distance from the back of the board to stagger the paddles. I placed the odd-numbered holes 1 ½″ from the back while the even-numbered holes were 3 ½″ from the back. Measuring off the left side on one board only, I marked a hole 1 ¾″ in from left and 1 ½″ from back of board and repeated every 3″ until I had six holes marked. Measuring from the left of the board again, I drew a line at 1″ and then every 1 ½″ until I had twelve lines. These would be my slots.

4 Drill the Holes

Drill out the holes, cut the slots and router the edges. Pre-drill all boards with a drill bit to prevent splitting. I used the spade bit to drill all the holes and then used a saw to cut the slots out. I routered all the holes and slots with a ½″ round over bit and sanded the entire project down. I flipped my bottom rack over to router it so that my paddles would cross and display nicer. That is purely optional.

man in a workshop using a router on a piece of wood
Router all the holes and slots with a ½″ round over bit and sand the entire project down. | Photo: Cleyder Duque/Pexels

5 Assemble the Pieces

Assemble the two sides, two back braces (one at top, one under top rack), top rack, bottom rack and bottom (optional; to stop paddles). I placed my bottom rack up off the floor and then fitted my paddles to see where the top rack should go. This will vary depending on your paddle length.

6 Add a Little Color

Stain your DIY paddle rack with the color of your choice.

Organize your out-of-control collection of paddles with this DIY paddle rack. | Feature photo: Mike Zilkowsky


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“Thank God my dad wasn’t a podiatrist,” jokes Ric about following in the footsteps of a famous outdoor writer. After graduating from Radford University and serving two years in Russia with the Peace Corps, Ric returned to Virginia Beach and started writing for The Fisherman magazine, where his dad was editor. When the kayak fishing scene exploded, Ric was among the first to get onboard. His 2007 book, The Complete Kayak Fisherman is one of the first tomes to introduce anglers to paddle fishing and hundreds of articles and seminars have brought countless anglers into the fold. When he’s not chasing every fish that swims, Ric teaches English at a school for at-risk teens.


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