JAIC 1997, Volume 36, Number 3, Article 6 (pp. 245 to 248)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1997, Volume 36, Number 3, Article 6 (pp. 245 to 248)

AN INEXPENSIVE METHOD FOR CONSTRUCTING STORAGE RACKS FOR HANGING ARTIFACTS

DAVID LEE COLGLAZIER



3 CONSTRUCTING THE RACKS

The fencing comes in rolls for easy transport, but needs to be unrolled for cutting and application to the pipes. The fencing wants to remain rolled, so you will need to roll it out on a floor surface, curved side down, and walk on it to help flatten it. Two people are needed to hang and secure the top edge of the fencing to the upper horizontal pipes. Stainless steel hose clamps go around the pipe and the fence wire edge. Several clamps can be loosely attached as you “stretch” and flatten the fence in place. The same hose clamp can be used to secure two adjacent sections of fence to the same pipe if you are using multiple widths to create a wide/tall storage surface. I have spaced the stainless clamps about 15–18 in. apart on the pipes around the perimeter of each section. I secure the fencing wherever it passes over a support pipe to help keep it flat. The fencing will need to be bent a little where it passes over the Al-Mg fittings.

Objects are secured to the fencing with “S” hooks or snap-eyes with hooks. A good hardware store or home center will carry a selection of “S” hooks and snap-eye combinations. They come in a variety of sizes and materials. Many are galvanized steel or other weather resistant alloy including bronze and stainless. Larger hooks work well with larger grids, but may be difficult to engage in a 1-in. 1-in. grid. Try them before you buy and ask about bulk quantity pricing.

The storage racks that I have seem very stable with regards to the materials. They have been in place for 23 years and show no signs of corrosion. The black iron pipe comes with an unknown coating on it. I have not seen it react with anything. The fencing, stainless hose clamps and Al-Mg fittings are left natural. The fencing can be found with a galvanized surface or with a green PVC coating for nicer gardens. The PVC should be avoided.

Artifacts or the fence can be padded if there is a need to protect or pad objects. It is up to you to choose the protective materials that are compatible with your artifacts. You can attach materials to the fence with nylon cable ties. Buy these in bulk from a home center or commercial electrical supply house. You may find lots of other uses for them. (They may become a strong competitor for “duct tape” as the craftsman's friend.)

The Al-Mg fittings come from two major sources listed below. They encompass a variety of common plumbing pipe sizes from in. to 1 in. pipe and are intended for construction of hand rails. Hollaender's latest catalog shows special fittings that can be used for erecting shelving units. It also includes some engineering information about pipe spans and strength of materials. I spaced my uprights 6–8 ft. apart when I made the first racks. I could climb on the finished rack when it was new, as an informal test of strength. (If I tried that now, I'd probably hurt myself.)

If the engineering tables and/or the concept is too daunting, a carpenter or someone with building skills should be able to put some of these racks together for you. The systems is inexpensive enough that it can be over-built a bit.

The work will require two people for the pipe cutting, fence handling and erection of the components. Black iron pipe comes in 21-ft. lengths from the supplier. A full piece of 1 pipe will weight about 44 pounds. It can be cut to length by the supplier for a cutting charge. I have a Ridgid pipe cutter that cost about $100. It has paid for itself and given several people some good exercise.

A small pair of double action chain cutters is useful for cutting the fencing. I go back later with a large pair of diagonal cutters (side nipping wire cutters) and trim the cut wire ends. A file can be used to round off any sharp edges that are created.

A “T” handled Allen drive tool is useful tightening the set screws in the Al-Mg fittings. The extra few dollars for one with a wire or “T” plastic handle will be appreciated and speed the operation. Also, a nut driver will be useful for tightening the stainless hose clamps. This means that you should make sure that the clamps have a hex drive nut or a hex/slotted drive nut. Good tools make the job go faster.

The resulting rack is not beautiful, but it is inexpensive and strong if you use welded heavy wire fencing and follow the engineering data. If you have little money and some good labor, you can create a lot of hanging storage surface area with this off-the-shelf system that uses common components. You'll get some exercise, too.


Copyright 1997 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works