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How To Build Your Own Rod and Tackle Locker

Inside Line Staff Writer Kyle Schauf




By Kyle Schauf
Midwestern Staff Writer


June 10, 2008

Tired of tearing apart half the garage looking for that box of cranks, only to remember later that it’s tucked away in the boat, under the boat cover and six inches of snow?  Here’s the cure - a locker to store all your tackle, rods, and other fishing gear.

Estimated Project Time: 6-8 Hours to Build

Spring is a terrible time to be a bass angler in the northern parts of the country.  This is the time when cabin fever really begins to set in.  Open water is months away and you are building up your vacation time for warmer days.  Of course you could spend hours on end sitting on a five gallon pail staring at a bobber afloat in the only open water within a days drive.  But for most of us, that is not the most appealing option.  You’ve been staring at your bass rods in the corner of your garage and you’ve organized your tackle box at least a dozen times.  It’s time to take that organization to the next level.

This is a fairly simple project that can put all your rods and reels, tackle and other fishing gear in one place, out of harms way, and at arms reach when the ice finally decides to break.

Here’s what you’ll need:

(4) 4’x8’ Sheets of 1/4” or 3/8” plywood
(12) 1”x4”x8’ Pine boards (actual size is ¾” x 3 ½” x 8’-0”)
(4) 4” Butt Hinges
(2) Door Pulls
(2) Roller Door Catches
1-1/4” Finish Nails or Screws

Table Saw or Skill Saw
Hand Saw or Jig Saw
Air Finish Nailer (or Drill Driver)
5/8” Wood Drill Bit
1-1/2” Wood Spade Bit
Tape Measure
Marking Pencil
Sand paper



First we’ll create the basic structural frame.  Take one of the 1x4x8 pine studs and cut it into four 1’-10 1/2” long pieces.  These will be the cross members for the sides.  Take two more of the 1x4x8’s and cut those into four 3’-10 1/2” long pieces.  These will be the cross members for the front and back of the frame.  Lastly, you’ll need four full length 1x4x8’s.  These will be the upright supports, so pick out the straightest boards you have.

Lay out two full length 1x4x8’s (from the last step) on the floor about two feet apart.  Measure and mark 3/4” in from the outside face of each board on both the top and bottom.  Nail a 1x4x1’-10 1/2” cross member to the inside of each mark on both the top and bottom.  Complete this task again using the other two full length upright support 1x4x8’s and the other two 1x4x1’-10 1/2” cross members.

Take the two side frames from the last step and stand them upright on the short side about four feet apart.  You may need an extra hand for this step.  Lay the 3’-10 ½” pieces on the top and bottom.  The pieces should fit perpendicular to the 1x10 ½” side cross-members and flush with the corners.  Nail them into place.  Now you’ll need to flip the three sided frame over to finish off the frame.  Take the remaining 3’x10 ½” pieces and nail them into place like we have just done.  You now have the basic frame. Overall dimensions should be 2’-0” deep by 4’-0” wide by 8’-0” tall.

Now we’ll add in the center support posts.  Take two 1x4x8 boards.  Measure and mark center on both the top and the bottom of the inside of the 3’ side on the basic frame.  Center one board on your marks and then nail it to the front inside of the basic frame.  Complete this step again to nail the other board to the back inside of the basic frame. 

Take one full 4’x8’ sheet of plywood.  Lay it across that back of the basic frame and nail about 12” on center around the entire perimeter of the frame and then down the center support.  Be sure to square up the frame to the plywood before nailing completely.  The easiest way to do this is to pick the top corner of the plywood and align its edges to the frame.  Put one nail in, just enough to hold it in place.  Now move to the opposite corner of the frame and the plywood, align the edges of the plywood and the frame and nail in place.  Then complete the perimeter nails.  

Now take two more 4’x8’ sheets of plywood.  Mark and cut each in half the long way so that you end up with four 2’x8’ pieces.  Two will become the sides of the frame and the other two will become the doors.  Set aside the ones that you will be using as doors, we won’t need those until later.  Now nail the 2’x8’ pieces to the sides of the basic frame, remembering to square up the frame as we did in the previous step.  Nail along the 8’ edges at about 12” on center.

Next take the remaining sheet of plywood and cut it into four 2’x4’ strips.  One of the strips will become the top and one will be the bottom.  The remaining two strips will become the shelves, so set those aside for now. 

Lay one of the 2’x4’ strips on top side of the locker.  From the underside of the frame trace around the 1x4 center support posts and upright support posts.  We will need to cut out these notches so the bottom shelf will slide snuggly into place.  To cut out the notches we’ll need the jig saw or the hand saw.  Cut around the notches as marked.  Stay right on or just inside the marked lines.  Now that the cutouts are complete, you should be able to slide the bottom piece into place.

Now take one of the 2’x4’ strips and nail to the top side of the frame.  Again, square up the frame prior to completing nailing. 

Now let’s create the tackle shelves.   Because of the way I store my tackle, I’ll be putting five shelves in my unit, but feel free to adjust the number to fit your storage needs better.  To create the shelf supports take a 1x4x8 and cut it into four equal 2’-0” pieces.  Now take one of the 2’-0” pieces and rip cut (the long way) them into four ¾” pieces.  Do the same with one more of the 2’-0” pieces.  When you are done with your rip cuts you should have a total of eight ¾” x ¾” x 2’-0” slats.  The other two 1x4x2-0” pieces will become the rod racks, so set those aside for now.

Next we’ll place the shelving slats.  Measure and mark on both the center support posts and the upright support posts (both front and back).  From the bottom up, measure and pencil your first set of marks at 20”.  From your 20” marks, now make the remaining sets of marks at 16” on center all the way to the top.  To place the slats, place the top edge of the slats on your marks and nail them into the center support posts (front and back) and the upright supports (front and back).

The last thing that you’ll need to do to complete the shelving portion of the project is to gather the remaining two 2’x4’ sheets of plywood from step seven.  Take a quick measurement between your center support posts and your upright supports of the frame.  The measurement should be about 1’-9 1/2”.  If so, cut the remaining 2’x4’ sheets into pieces that will be 1’-9 1/2” x 2’-0” (otherwise adjust to fit).  You should have four shelves. Place each on top of the shelving slats.  Here you could either nail in place or leave them loose in case you change the heights in the future.

Rod Rack
Now it’s time for the rod rack portion of the project.  Gather up the two 1x4x2-0” pieces from step 10 (?).  You’ll need to cut one more piece at the same size so that you have a total of three.  Take two of the 2’-0” pieces and drill seven 1-1/2” diameter holes down the center of each board.  The holes should be spaced about 3” apart from center to center.  These boards will be the for the rod butts. Now take the remaining 1x4x2’-0” and drill seven 5/8” holes about 3” on center down the middle of the board. This will be for the rod shafts

Take the shaft board with the 5/8” holes down the center and rip cut it down the middle so that you have two equal parts (and it splits the 5/8” holes down the middle).  Smooth out the holes with a small piece of sand paper.

The placement of the rod rack portion is a little tricky so you may need one of your rods to get the placement exactly right.  Place one of the rod butt boards on the bottom of the rack about 2 ½” in from the inside face and nail into place.  Take one of the rod shaft boards and place it up the upright support about 5’.  Before nailing, take one of your rods and lean it in place to make sure this placement will work.  Adjust as necessary and nail into place.  Recreate this same process for the other side (using the center support posts as your nailer).

Now that the tackle shelves are in place and you’ve got room for up to 14 rods, it’s time to put on the doors and get them out of harms way.  Take both of the 2’x8’ door panels and place the 4” butt hinges per the manufacturer’s recommendations.  They should be placed roughly 16” down from the top and 16” up from the bottom. 

To hang the doors, place a scrap piece of plywood on the ground beside the front face of the frame.  Set your door on top of the scrap piece, square up and finish by putting the remaining screws in for the hinges.  Slide the piece of scrap out of the way and test swing the doors (the gap that was created from the scrap will ensure that your doors will swing on an uneven floor).

Lastly you’ll need to put on the door pulls and roller catches.  You should mount both the door pulls and roller about 36” up from the bottom.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mounting these pieces of hardware. 

Finally, the project is complete.  Find a good location for your rod locker in your man cave or out in the garage.  Gather up all your gear, tackle and rods and load up your newly constructed organizer.  It’s safe to say, when it is finally time to hit the water, open the locker and it’s all there, organized and in one place.