October 10, 2015

Buff Dudes DIY Power Rack

Buff Dudes DIY Power Rack

I never expected our little Power Rack video to get, [as of Sept 30, 2015], 288,150 views.  But of course I'm glad it did.  The best part is that people actually built it and sent in pictures to prove it as well a videos of themselves using it.  That for me delivers a great deal of satisfaction.  For me the DIY videos are something that usually have a very short time frame, like a weekend or a day or even part of a day just because I always seem to have a ton of other stuff to do.  Like walking Samson my basset hound or cuddling with Buff Mom; she would of course point out the order of importance here - dog first, wife second.  Well...back to the power rack.

My DIY's especially in collaboration with the Buff Dudes are even more sped up
It goes something like this:

Hudson: "So we need to show how to build a power rack and be able to do it so everyone is able to build it."


DIY Duke: "Uh okay.  A steel power rack?"


Hudson: "Whatever, but we have like a day and some to do it in 'cause I need to get back to LA."


See what I mean?  We're always in overdrive around here.  I should have stuck with making meth, the process is slow and methodical.  Please refer to the Buff Dudes YouTube channel and watch the video Buff Dudes vs Breaking Bad for further enlightenment.  


So wanting to work within the parameters of simplicity and durability the first thing that came to mind was wood.  Readily available for the most part, fairly inexpensive, and easy to work with.  Now I'm not ditching steel, I love steel.  I love to weld and drill and all that but I was thinking a lot of people who may want a power rack might not have all the resources to build a power rack out of steel.  Thus was born the Buff Dudes wood power rack.  


Let's consider the raw material called wood.  Many comments for the power rack video mentioned the fact that wood may not be suitable primarily because of a strength issue, while many comments countered with the fact that wood frame construction holds up houses that are one, two and more stories high.  It is true wood is very, very strong especially used with it's growth rings in mind.  Everyone knows how strong a tree can be.  How tall and resilient they are even in the strongest of storms.  As a tree grows it adds girth slowly and over time the fibers in a tree are in a cellular way the most natural and strongest of substances.  We used a native tree to our area:  the Douglas Fir.  Each growth ring represents a year of life of the tree and the closer the growth rings the stronger the tree is because it has grown slowly over time, like a buff dude.  And like a buff dude the Douglas Fir has the ability to hold huge amounts of weight. 

Buff Dudes Diy Power RackThe basis of the power rack are four up right posts utilizing the natural and most formidable strength of the tree.  The posts are cut out of the Douglas fir the same way it has reached for the sun in it's growth. For simplicity and brevity it was important to utilize the 4x4 for the entire construction.  At least that's what I thought and it worked.



All the cross members are 4x4's as well.  We're talking the archaic method of standard U.S. measurements here.  4 inches by 4 inches which in reality is 3.5x3.5: another throwback to the old days when lumber came out of a mill un-planed and a 4x4 was truly a 4x4. As the planer (the machine that peels off the rough part of the lumber and gives it that nice smooth surface) came into use the rough measurements stayed the same but the true dimensions were actually smaller.  In older houses the frame construction is the actual dimensions before the planer came into use.  Sound confusing?  To illustrate you go to the lumber yard to get a 3/4 inch thick by 4 inch wide board.  What they call it is a 1x4.  So you go, "No I want a 3/4 inch."  They say, "It is 3/4 inch we just call it a 1x4."  Huh?  Yeah exactly.  You just get use to the dimensions such as:  2x4 which is really 1 1/2 x3 1/2, or 6x6 is really 5 1/2x5 1/2 and so on with a normal 1/2 inch of trim.      


Funny how conventions are followed just because it's difficult for us to change things especially when it requires a lot of adaptation that we don't feel like adapting to.  And that worked as well for the metric system here.  When I was in eighth grade we were supposed to change over, albeit slowly, to the metric system.  That was starting in/around 1971-1972.  Well we still haven't got there and that has a way of making it difficult to transliterate measurements. 


Anonymous commenter: "Just get to the power rack, I don't got all day!"


Yeah sorry, got a little side tracked there.


Okay let's do this.


DIY Buff Dudes Power Rack



  • 8 - 8 Foot 4x4 Douglas Fir or Equivalent Wood
  • 8 - 3x5 Flat Steel Ties (Simpson's Strong Tie TP 5)
  • 14 - 1/2x2x2 3/4 90 Degree Steel Ties (Simpson's Strong Tie A23)
  • 1 Pound of 2 inch Star Bit Wood Screws
  • 1/2 Pound of 3 inch Star Bit Wood Screws
  • 1 - 1/8 inch Drill Bit For Pilot Holes
  • 1 - 1 1/4 inch Tri Fluted Wood Boring Bit

Racking Pins-
  • 2 - Chair Flanges
  • 2 - 1 1/2 Inch Pipes
  • 2 - Pipe Connectors
  • 2 - 4 1/2 Inch Pipes
  • 2 - Caps
Safety bars:
  • 2 - 60 Inch Pipes
  • 2 - 4 Inch Pipes
  • 2 - 90 Degree Elbows
  • 2 - Caps
Pull Up Bar:
  • 1 - 60 Inch Pipe
  • 2 - Caps
PULL-UP BAR VIDEO: http://youtu.be/GUh-KYzrs7E


Final Materials to make it look Buff Dudes Approved:


  • Quart of Flat Black Latex Enamel
  • 1 inch Number Stencils
  • Can of White Spray Paint.
So you assembled all your materials according to the list from the Power Rack video.  Awesome, good job.  Just want to mention in other parts of the world I'm not sure what they have but you could actually build the power rack out of logs, which would be super badass.  Hey maybe I'll do that one too.  Outdoor power rack.   


You'll want to cut all your lengths from the fur-bu-furs, uh I mean four by fours.  Whatever method you have - that is saw speaking - you could even use a chain saw if that's all you have.  You can also change dimensions if you want, but we went with the standard size power rack.  Then you'll want to drill your holes for safety bars and racking pins.  I heard a lot of comments from people who have built the power rack and they pointed out they didn't drill all those holes.  Thanks for pointing that out; you don't need to drill all those holes if you don't want to.  Makes the build go much faster.  I've never used all those holes.  


The nail plates or Simpson ties are a really easy way to assemble and connect the 4x4s.  If you don't have those you can use plywood on all the outside corners which would be a bunch of triangle shaped (or square) pieces of plywood that you would screw to all the connecting sections of the 4x4s.  Remember "necessity is the mother of invention."  Or if you're really cool and love wood working the mortise and tenon joint is the time honored way of connecting wood.  Again we had limited time.  


You have all your pieces cut, time to drill some holes and at this point let me add that the drilling bit you want to use is the Tri Flute Max Speedbor bit made by Irwin tools.  Caution these suckers self feed and eat like hell, they have tendency to split the wood so make sure you have a backer board under the 4x4 and they take a powerful drill. Bosch makes a drill bit called the Daredevil that's getting good reviews including less of a tendency to split the wood, also self feeding, so you may want to look for the Bosch, sorry Irwin.  Don't use a regular spade bit, it'll take forever.  The most laborious part was drilling the holes.  


Pieces are cut, holes are drilled, assembly time. Finally. In the video you'll see we laid the section down on the floor to assemble.  Once that first section is done, do the other side then stand them up and this is when it's helpful you have another Buff Dude or Grrrl assist in joining the the sections together.  Nice, nice. You're almost done.  You've done a beautiful job and you can paint it if you like or stain it or leave it natural, hey it's your power rack.  Put a green metal flake paint job on it if you want.  


Now for the pipe.  3/4 inch pipe normally used for water or gas.  I found out that in other countries that that pipe may not be so readily available so a substitution may have to be made.  The pipe is for the racking pins like seen in the video and the safety bars.  Some builders have come up with their own version of racking pins which is awesome.  Don't be afraid to veer off the beaten path and invent your own system. As time goes by I'll be adding some cable systems so I can do flys etc.  


Buff Dudes Power RackSo you've done it.  You've build you very own power rack.  Time to relax and revel in your accomplishment.  At least for a few minutes but now it's time to use it.  And you will.  I'm using mine like crazy now that I'm back into the routine of working out.  I love the power rack, so versatile.  Especially for squats and bench press.  


If you don't want to buy a power rack and enjoy making things yourself then building the power rack is the way to go.  There's just something about standing back and saying, " I made that."  


Thanks to everyone who have sent in pics of the power racks they have built and all the comments and views for the video.


Buff Dudes DIY Power Rack Blog

Duke White
Duke White


In addition to being Buff Dad, Do It Yourself Duke creates all kinds of DIY projects with materials that can be found easily and for cheap. You can find him on his YouTube channel "DIYDuke" and also helping us out on the Buff Dudes channel & blog.