Is this a Dumb Idea: A Scissor Lift Cart for Lumber Rack

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Forum topic by NeophyteGrant posted 05-16-2020 04:08 AM 1165 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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147 posts in 1758 days

05-16-2020 04:08 AM

Topic tags/keywords: scissor cart jig cart lumber rack

I have a small shop space, and as a consequence, a horizontal lumber rack with some hefty 12” wide x 8 to 10 feet pieces of lumber up there, up there being 8-9 feet high. Getting them down is a hassle, as is pivoting them, usually with me balancing the full weight of the board from one end.

Enter this potentially harebrained idea I got from my store bought scissor lift cart (super helpful to move loads around): What if I had a scissor lift that I could put some forks on the top platform to get up there and bring it down? (See attached.)

My main worries are about height and stability and base weight. It would move one stickered board at a time. It would be as long as the scissor jack profile would allow to prevent tipping lengthwise, and I could build a back or v shaped angle bracket to prevent side to side movement. I could also overbuild the width of the base to compensate for side to side tipping.

What say ye: is this feasible? Or scrap it?

10 replies so far

View gwilki's profile


367 posts in 2723 days

#1 posted 05-16-2020 02:04 PM

I think that it’s a fair idea. I don’t understand the “forks on the top platform”, though.

I’m guessing that a scissor jack that will extend to 30” is something like the ones that are on the corners of mobile homes, yes?

-- Grant Wilkinson, Ottawa ON

View NeophyteGrant's profile


147 posts in 1758 days

#2 posted 05-16-2020 04:51 PM

It is: 5,000lb holding capacity. It says not to lift but I imagine it can handle such trivial weight. I’ve seen people do 4 bench tops with adjustable bench’s that are 150+.

I was thinking I could add some angle brackets that would extend slightly off the side a la a forklift. It would have to be slightly because this design isn’t counterweighted.

View therealSteveN's profile


8923 posts in 1823 days

#3 posted 05-16-2020 07:23 PM

I understand the point you are making, but I can’t quit the thought you still have quite a bit of risk, in the transfer from resting in a rack, and onto the jack. Now if there were always 2 people on 2 ladders to get it down, then you just made a cheap forklift, and I would say splendid. By yourself, it’s really hard to hold a big board anywhere along it’s length while on a ladder, or even above your head on flat ground. Lot’s of potential for the board to drop, or yourself while trying to hold onto it.

I think this is why you don’t see wood storage high on the wall over the tools. It’s an unused space, but better used for cabinets with smaller items.

-- Think safe, be safe

View NeophyteGrant's profile


147 posts in 1758 days

#4 posted 05-16-2020 09:08 PM

This brings up a better question: any alternate thoughts on lumber storage in a 20×20 garage?


View Arm3's profile


15 posts in 785 days

#5 posted 05-16-2020 11:29 PM

I have two different ideas that you could consider.

1. Use a hydraulic lifting cart. I have a Harbor Freight 1000# capacity cart that I use to move and lift my two sons that have special needs. ( Their website lists it for $280, I was able to use the 20% off coupon to get it. It has a 24” total lift, a bit less than your 30” with the scissor lift but not far off. You could build your platform on top of it to get the height you need. The lift is 180 pounds and bottom heavy. The top of the blue pad is 12 1/4” off the ground at the lowest setting and 36 1/4” at the max lift. Here are pictures of what I built:

2. The second idea may be out of left field but could work. You could make the entire wood rack raise and lower using an electric hoist. I had thought of using something like this for an adjustable height wood rack: ( I decided against it for a wood rack but just built one to put my CNC on since I’m very short of floor space.

The hoist I bought has an 880 pound capacity when using the included snatch block. Between the table frame, torsion box and CNC machine it is approximately 300 pounds being lifted and center of mass about 2 feet from the unistrut. It’s built with the intent of carrying the weight in the ceiling joists, the studs behind the track and through the track into the ground. A couple of points I think are important:
-I don’t intent to leave it stored in the raised position when I’m not in the shop.
-When it is in the raised position I will place four 500 pound capacity straps from the the hoist’s unistrut to the table frame and from a ceiling joist to the frame. I don’t intend for the hoist to continuously hold it in the up position and will not walk under it until those straps are safely in place.
-I am also working on a way to use beams from the floor to the frame as a safety device when in the raised position.

For a wood rack I think it would be better to increase the space between the tracks to 80 or 96”. Mine is at 32” spacing which works since the table is 46” wide.

View Woodknack's profile


13584 posts in 3629 days

#6 posted 05-16-2020 11:43 PM

If you want to see how someone else built one look up Marius Hornberger on YouTube, he’s a clever young engineering student.

-- Rick M,

View NeophyteGrant's profile


147 posts in 1758 days

#7 posted 05-17-2020 04:51 AM

Thanks guys. Arm3—I actually have the lift table model you mention from HF that you mention. I like to keep it free to ferry stock around to cut/route, etc. from station to station and as a mobile top to hold stock while I’m working on my undersize bench.

View NeophyteGrant's profile


147 posts in 1758 days

#8 posted 05-17-2020 06:30 AM

This might be a more stable base—though doesn’t potentially answer some of the tipping issues lengthwise:

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26817 posts in 4355 days

#9 posted 05-17-2020 04:00 PM

I would think that would work for a one man lifting situation but I would not extend any forks out past the footprint of the base or it could tip on you. The one concern I’d have would be what to so with that lifting cart in my small shop unless it used as a work area but with the top of that base unit at 57”, I don’t think it would work for me unless I could store it outside.

Cheers, Jim….stay safe!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Sark's profile


426 posts in 1609 days

#10 posted 05-25-2020 03:10 PM

I store all sheet goods vertically, using what essentially looks like a clamp rack. If fact, I was making a clamp rack with forks that extended out about a foot from the wall, when it occurred to me that plywood could just slide into the slots and solve a huge storage problem. This 26” wide rack can hold 10-15 full sheets of plywood and lots of cutoffs. I can pull out any sheet or cutoff without having to move any other sheet.

For this system to work, you must have 8’ ceiling, which I just have. Oversized melamine (97”) won’t fit, so I cut it down before sliding into place. Also, you need 4’ of clearance in front of the plywood rack to be able to pull sheets in and out. The floor should be smooth and slippery where you store the plywood, else you can’t slide it in place and the edge will get bunged up. In my commercial shop, we had a 1/4” piece of melamine on the floor, but in my home shop, don’t have room for that, so have 1/8 vinyl tiles which are pretty slippery, especially with a thin coating of sawdust.

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