Attic Lift

  • Advertise with us
Project by pnig posted 02-24-2014 11:33 PM 46092 views 26 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made my own version of an attic lift I found on the internet that will lift about 500 pounds safely. I am just too old to be carrying boxes and tools up into the attic. I remodeled my attic area above the garage adding new flooring and pulling up the floor in the actual lift area and doubling up on all the joists to insure the strength of the area of the hoist.
I used a Harbor Freight electric hoist and a pulley system to raise and lower the elevator box. I am sure there a number of ways to do this, and all of them will work fine. It has been a great addition to the shop allowing me to take seldom used tools, jigs and fixtures, and material upstairs. It is easy to move things up and down and not I have plenty of extra space for storage.
See the details at
Work safe,
God bless

-- [email protected]

19 comments so far

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1607 posts in 3096 days

#1 posted 02-25-2014 12:16 AM

Nice, can you show a picture of the cabling that you did for lifting. I would like to see how you ran the pulleys up top.

-- Jeff NJ

View steve_in_ohio's profile


1195 posts in 3073 days

#2 posted 02-25-2014 12:16 AM

very cool idea, that will definitely come in handy, great work

-- steve, simple and effective

View Grumpymike's profile


2504 posts in 3777 days

#3 posted 02-25-2014 12:32 AM

This is on my to-do list for the new shop. I am glad to see your lift, thanks for sharing.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View tomakazi's profile


687 posts in 4745 days

#4 posted 02-25-2014 01:11 AM

Great idea! It reminds me of an elevator I helped a guy build years ago. He was in a wheelchair and needed to get to the 2nd floor. So we made something similar to this only with no $ we used a pallet and sacks of concrete as a counter weight. We ran two cables through the floor of the elevator and he would pull himself up and down. When he was at the top the pallet was on the floor, but when he was on the first floor the pallet was suspended in the air. at the bottom he would put a screwdriver in a hole to keep it there while he wheeled his chair off of it. One time he had a few too many cocktails and went down to the first floor and forgot the screwdriver. When he backed off the platform the pallet came slamming down and the elevator went slamming up, with his wheelchair on it. he had to crawl all the way through his house, all the way upstairs to retrieve his wheelchair. A really funny story if you know the guy. He was notorious for doing things like this.

-- I didn't go to college, I was too busy learning stuff - Ted Nugent

View Matt (MWA Woodworks)'s profile

Matt (MWA Woodworks)

305 posts in 3075 days

#5 posted 02-25-2014 01:22 AM

ummm. that is SWEET! What a fantastic tool for getting heavy or bulky things hoisted into the attic. Great work!

-- Follow me on instagram and facebook @mwawoodworks

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


10889 posts in 3871 days

#6 posted 02-25-2014 05:07 AM

been thinking about this for years with the extra space over my carport for dealing with Christmas decorations, guess it will work and I have another project on my hands…. LOL

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Ken90712's profile


18113 posts in 4651 days

#7 posted 02-25-2014 09:25 AM

Very cool, saves the back.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View 489tad's profile


4153 posts in 4474 days

#8 posted 02-25-2014 01:01 PM

No limitations. Love it.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View SquintyPolock's profile


102 posts in 3359 days

#9 posted 02-25-2014 03:03 PM

Working smarter not harder. Outstanding!! Good for you.

-- It's all in a day's work...

View Sandy's profile


249 posts in 5387 days

#10 posted 02-25-2014 03:37 PM

While I love the whole idea, I do hope that anyone thinking of implementing something similar recognizes that there is a very real difference between a “hoist” and a “winch”. See, Many (actually most, if not all) of the units sold by Harbor Freight are actually winches, and they are not intended (or safe) for lifting loads, so please “read, understand, and follow” all of the instructions, and be careful.

View Grumpymike's profile


2504 posts in 3777 days

#11 posted 02-25-2014 04:25 PM

Thanks for the info Sandy; I will have to study the pull angle and see if the ‘winch’ that I bought will safely work for my lift as mine will be wall mounted, rising through the ceiling, and rising along the truss to the apex and down to the lift basket.
I will check out the braking system and decide.
I think that this lift is the best idea since peanut butter

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View Ocelot's profile


3808 posts in 4100 days

#12 posted 02-25-2014 04:58 PM

I’ve got the HF hoist in my shop attic too. Best $80 I’ve spent!

My lift is much more primative, however – just a piece of 7/16” OSB with holes drilled in the corners and a couple of pieces of rope with knots tied underneath. It took me about 10 minutes to make it, but it’s nothing to look at. I haven’t intentionally taken a photo of it.

We generally lift stuff in boxes. As long as the ropes are pressing against the upper edges of the boxes, the boxes won’t slide and the board won’t tip. I rarely lift more than 100lb with it. Common sense says don’t stand under it.

Once we lifted a pizza, but the OSB tipped and dumped it face down on the floor in the sawdust. We ate it anyway. :)


-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View RodMcc's profile


9 posts in 4446 days

#13 posted 02-25-2014 05:00 PM

I like this idea also and have a very similar setup in my workshop to lift plywood into the overhead. I looked at the link Sandy referred to and it seems that the differences between a winch and a hoist would be that a winch has a free spooling clutch and a hoist doesn’t, hoists have a better brake and a travel limiter. HF sells these as electric hoists and from the description on the diy link, that’s what they are. Mine, which looks like the one in the photo’s pnig posted, has to be spooled in an out with the motor, it has a limiter to stop the spool from getting jammed and it seems to brake and hold whenever I release the motor control button. The one thing they don’t mention and it’s important whether it’s a winch or a hoist, is to check the cable from time to time. If there are strands sticking out, it’s time to replace it. Good information to know about. Thanks Sandy.

View pnig's profile


20 posts in 3020 days

#14 posted 02-25-2014 05:07 PM

The hoist I used is reversible and not free wheeling. It is braked when stopped and you can not pull cable off the spool when stopped. The Harbor Freight model I used is close to the current model #60385 and they list the following in their description:
This remote-controlled, half-ton electric hoist lets you stand at a safe distance while you lift up to 440 lb. by remote control. With an electric hoist that lifts at a rate up to 33 ft. per minute, the job gets done faster and more safely. Featuring a single cable length of 48 ft., this electric hoist is great for any shop or automotive garage loading heavy equipment or removing engines.
Tethered remote control with power up/power down
Weighted lift hook
Sheaved pulley lift hook for dual line operation
Durable braided steel cable

I secured the hoist to the Joists in the attic, but am not happy with the way it retrieves cable and it “stacks up” and then “falls over” and the box will drop a foot or so. I am going to remount it to the rafters nearer to the elevator itself.
Because of the pulley system used the hoist will most likely lift more that the 440# it is rated at, but I am careful about what I lift and do not overload. I never let people in the hoist, and because of the tethered remote control am never under it either.
I love it. I have over 30 boxes of Christmas decorations that come up and down every year, tools I seldom use, and a lot of supplies and hardware up there. It is easy to get to, and easy to bring up and down. I love it and recommend you do your homework, what I did will probably not work for you. Most of all I used 1000# as my bogey for picking pulleys and hardware to assemble the cable lifting system
Go to my website: for more photos of the lift and what I did to install it. If you have more specific questions my email is: [email protected] and I would be glad to help in any way I can.
God bless

-- [email protected]

View Sandy's profile


249 posts in 5387 days

#15 posted 02-25-2014 07:49 PM


Thank you for clarifying what you did, and what you used, as I had looked into making a system at one point, and I know that I was totally unaware of the difference between a winch and a hoist. My comments were only there so that others, who had not, yet, done their own homework, would be sure to do so before running out and doing something that could lead to problems. After all, to paraphrase a wise woodworker, “Safety is an option” and one which should always be at the forefront of any project.

showing 1 through 15 of 19 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics