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DIY: Build Your Own Roof Rack

With tips from Greg Bridges.
posted: 02/17/2009

If your car already has a factory-installed luggage rack, all you’ll need is a couple of two-by-fours, some cord (parachute cord or six-millimeter rope works well), a couple of mountain-bike inner tubes, and six two-inch wood bolts with fender washers for each pair of skis you want to carry.

Place the two-by-fours across your luggage rack (perpendicular to the length of the car) so they rest on the rack’s rails. Cut the boards to length so they extend past the rails by at least a few inches.

Place the two-by-fours back on the ground and set your skis across them. Rather than stack your skis together, set the skis side-by-side. The bases of the skis should sit directly on the wood, with about an inch between them. Use a pencil to mark where your skis sit on each board.

For each pair of skis, drill three holes in the front two-by-four and three holes in the rear two-by-four: On each board, place one hole on the left side of your skis, one in between, and one on the right side.

Cut the inner tube into sections at least three inches longer than the width of your skis when they’re sitting side-by-side. You’ll need two sections of inner tube for each pair of skis—one for the tips, one for the tails. Drape the cut tube across the holes. Once you fasten the rubber to the wood (see below), the tube will hold your ski tips and tails to the two-by-fours.

Using a utility knife, cut a small X in the inner tube to pass a bolt through it and the hole in the two-by-four. Stretch the tube across the other holes, cutting Xs for each bolt. The more you stretch, the tighter the hold on your skis. But don’t overdo it; they won’t blow off. You just need to keep the skis from sliding around. Use washers and Loctite adhesive to help keep the nuts from cutting into the tube and working loose. Repeat for each pair of skis you wish to carry.

Fasten the two-by-fours to the luggage rack with the rope or parachute cord using a slipknot cinched down with a series of overhand knots. Slide your tips and tails between the tubes and the wood. Commence laughing at others who spent $600 on a rack.

Greg Bridges—a Mt. Bachelor, Oregon–based wooden-kayak builder, teacher, and expert jury-rigger—has built racks from all manner of materials. He once accidentally skewered a coyote with a homemade fishing-rod rack made of rebar on his truck’s bumper.



Well it seems like a great idea,but due to rubber degrading in sunlight ,i would not trust this nifty invention quite so much,so that you can do 70mph .I have worked on a sailing ship for years, and would not trust this totaly. I have also seen skiis come off a carroof at 80mph( off a poorly built DIY roofrack) the sad thing is it rarely effects the driver. Maybe this invention can be improoved,.A secondary wood board ontop of the skiis,so sandwitching the skiis in (accros the length of the rack ) would be allot safer. this could also be held together with bolts and wingnuts) happy building

This seems like a good idea for my fishing pole rack. I don't go 70 on the way to the pond, so i think it would work well. Only i would put one screw on each piece of rubber all the way in, and leave a little of the other screw out so i could pull the rubber tight over the pole and put it over the screw. Thanks for the idea!

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