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DIY Roof Rack - With Full Plans!

183332 Views 165 Replies 37 Participants Last post by  konradgsanders
Ok, so I got to thinking. I want a roof rack. I don't want to pay whatever outrageous price someone charges me for injection-molded plastic and some cheap aluminum. I want something that'll LAST and that'll be able to hold up more than the roof. Soooooo...I gots me all these tools, why don't I MAKE one?

And there was the genesis of an entire weekend of time...

Difficulty: Cakewalk..........Medium......*..Expert
(rated expert for major tool usage/owning)

Things you will need:
Cut-off saw or Sawzall or hacksaw and some HUGE arms
Drill press
Rat tail file (for cleaning drilled holes)
Flat file
3/8" x 1" bolts, washers, lock washers, nuts
1/4" x 2" hex cap bolts, washers, lock washers, nuts
12 stainless steel (reccommended) 6mm x 16mm hex cap bolts and lock washers
One 4' piece of 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" angle iron
2 cross bars of your choosing (I used 5' slotted square steel tube sawed to 54")
Good drill bits (cobalt reccommended)
Paint of your choice
Other crap to attach to the rack

1. Download and print out 2 copies of this file:
View attachment RoofRackBracketLayout x 4 - modified.pdf

2. Cut out the 4 strips, leaving them connected the long way, fold on the dotted line, and tape them to the inside of the angle iron:
Technology Electronic component Electronics Electronic device

3. Cut the angle iron into pieces the size of the double brackets:

Welder Metalworking Angle grinder Welding Machine

4. Drill through the paper and bracket at the spots marked. The larger holes are 3/8" and the smaller holes are 9/32". NOTE: You only make 2 sets with all of the smaller holes, these are for attaching to the roof. For the other 2 sets, only drill the middle small hole:


5. Cut the brackets apart now into 2 equal-sized pieces. They should be 4 3/4" each.

Wood Wood stain Hardwood Plywood Furniture

6. File out the holes to remove any excess metal using the rat tail file and file all edges with the flat file.

7. Paint the brackets with rust-resistant paint. I used black Plasti-Dip. Be sure to clean them with alcohol or mineral spirits first since the steel will be oiled prior to shipping.

8. Remove the small covers on the roof edging to expose 3 bolt holes each.

9. Attach one lower bracket to each mount point using the 6mm bolts and a lock washer, then attach the upper bracket to the lower one to form a Z shape with 2 3/8" x 1 bolts. It should look like this: (sorry no intermediate pics, I kinda got carried away...)

Automotive exterior Bumper Metal Wood

10. Get your cross bars and attach them to the brackets. Since I used slotted square tube steel, I used 1/4" bolts to bolt through. If you want to use round pipe instead, use a U bolt and drill appropriate holes.

11. Get a beer, you're done!

**Pic Coming Soon!**

I chose the slotted tubing so that I can attach a lot of things to it by simple bolting. One thing I wanted on it was rope cleats for tiedown:

**Pic Coming Soon!**

Feel free to use and improve on the plans! I have some leftover angle iron and if someone wants a set of brackets to mount whatever but lacks the tools, I could make a set for probably $30 or so (painting extra, I hate painting...). Note these brackets can be used to mount just about anything you want, and can be customized for whatever bolt-on mounting you may need.

If anyone wants a copy of the master CAD file, just PM me for the file and a link to the software I made it in.

This is my first time attempting any fabrication with metal/steel so I'd really appreciate any comments or suggestions people could have! Please be kind though, I know my metal fab skillz are lacking...

Thanks to PaulJ for inspiration and "general look", I admit I kinda ripped him off. Please don't hurt me!

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My current project is designing a rooftop-mounted tent system, kind of a poor-man's E-Camper that can be removed. It's gonna be a lot of work and REALLY ghetto :D
Get a two person tent-cot from Sportsmans Guide and attach it to the rack with conduit clamps. I'm thinking about it but I have to see if you can get in from the moon roof first. If not I'll have to make an aluminum ladder that is stowable.

...or here is one that will work with a kayak rack.;-)
I have plans in my head for a sealing system for the moonroof that would be attached with the tent box. More I cannot say for trade secret reasons :rolleyes:

Here's the missing pictures of the finished installation and the rope cleats:

Also notice on crossbars my patented anti-howl system of heavy duty bungees:

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Temp post for new PDF verification:


Nice rack , good DIY for the average weekend time frame , I will be building soon.:smile:
Nice rack , good DIY for the average weekend time frame , I will be building soon.:smile:
You might want to take a look at my new rack setup, I replaced the steel with aluminum C channel which is just as strong and a LOT easier to work with. I'll send you a PM with the link :D

You may have noticed in my sig that I've abandoned the home-made rack approach. It served me well for 4 years. But then I got sucked into buying a set of Yakima TK9 adapters from a going-out-of-business store (GIJoes). Having made that commitment, I had to follow up with buying a set of Control Towers (only 20% off). Since I already had Yakima bars, and home made fairing I didn't need anything else.

The big plus for the full Yakima setup - ease of removal, leaving only the TK9 adapters with covers on the car.

A minor plus for Yakima - the crossbar spacing is wider than my homemade rig. That's because it uses the front 2 holes in front, and back 2 in back. In theory I could have done that on my homemade rig. But having gone to all the work of trimming my brackets, and the garnish fillers, I wasn't in a rush to make that change.

Another plus for Yakima - no rusting of screws or bolts. Finding stainless steel hardware of the right size for my home rig was a pain, and even the ones that I found were not fully stainless when exposed to year around weather.

The Element is well suited for home made racks. If you have skill and tools you can make a great one, perfectly suited to your needs. If you are just trying to pinch pennies, homemade may not be worth it in the long run.

There still are pictures of my homemade rig on my pbase galleries.
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I ended up going all aluminum and stainless (except for the bars) on my current rig and I like it a LOT more than my original setup. The main reason I did homemade (other than penny pinching) is the added strength, WAY over anything you can buy for even a remotely reasonable price.

So are you selling your old rack Paul? :D

So are you selling your old rack Paul? :D
I'm still using the Yakima bars. My old rack consisted of Yakima bars, the pieces off of Yakima gutter mounts, and some Yakima bar clamps. The home made parts were the aluminum brackets that screw to the car. So there are not that many parts of the old rig to sell.
Fav Red Green quote

" remember , if the women don't find you handsome , they should at least find you handy "

not that I am calling anyone ugly ;-) but being in the garage building things is way more fun than riding the couch surfing TV .... keeps the brain busy and out of trouble. :) and I need to keep one step ahead of trouble ... :D
Fav Red Green quote

" remember , if the women don't find you handsome , they should at least find you handy "

not that I am calling anyone ugly ;-) but being in the garage building things is way more fun than riding the couch surfing TV .... keeps the brain busy and out of trouble. :) and I need to keep one step ahead of trouble ... :D
I like that philosophy, only problem is trouble likes my garage just as much as he likes my couch :lol:

Yes it does , but usually fun trouble and not unlike ' Tim the tool man Taylor ' I find a few bandages will cover the ' trouble ' I get into ... here is the rack , I posted more picks on your roof rack 2.0 thread ...;-) thanks again for sharing your idea ...
Land vehicle Vehicle Car Motor vehicle Honda element
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I said it over there and I'll say it here too, looks awesome :D

This thread seems worth digging up. I may soon tackle this (in my own way... its gotta be brutal n stuff).

I have a few questions... but i would imagine if i went through the pages again i could find the answers out for myself.
I'm still around, PM me with any questions. But you might want to read the thread about the version 2.0 first:

Much thanks. Looking into the new one as i type.
Much thanks. Looking into the new one as i type.
I would HIGHLY suggest working with the aluminum version, it's a TON easier to work with and doesn't rust!

can i buy one of these sets from you guys? or are there pre fab parts i can assemble from a hardware store? ...if not can anyone recommend a a cheap place to get a roof rack and basket? thanks
If you use round crossbars, you can just use pipe hangers.
(clamp onto x-bar, threaded rod(maybe bent) through fairing w/nuts on both sides)
Does any one know what size you need to use these?
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