How to Build a Gun Rack

If you’ve got a considerable quantity of firearms (Or maybe Air Rifles) around the house, you might want to consider a gun rack as an option to store them when they’re not in use. They’re particularly in favor in rural areas where break ins are less of a concern, but someone might want to keep their rifles handy.

We’ll show you precisely how to build a custom one that’ll be able to suit your individual needs quite well.

Gregory, Author Paintimpact

How to Build a Gun Rack

1.) Making the Plans

Since you’re going to be building this from scratch, it’s a good idea to decide on a space and the guns that you’re planning on putting on the rack before you begin.

Standing gun racks, or “deputy racks”, will have the guns oriented vertically. Essentially you’ll be placing the holds up top in order to allow the butts of the ground to sit on the bottom of the rack.

Vertical racks are similar to standing racks. The guns are still oriented vertically, but they’re also attached to a frame which will keep them off of the ground.

Horizontal racks are placed on the wall or in the back of a vehicle. They’re the most common type of rack by a long shot, and allow for a good view of the stored firearms while also allowing ready access.

Round racks are usually designed to be portable. They’re often used in campsites designated for hunting, and they’ll allow access to the rifles quickly and easily.

They’re rarely used in homes since the space used up will be greater than the actual size of the rack, you can’t really stick one in a corner and have it be functional. They’re a bit more specialized and outside of the range of this article.

For the most part, gun racks will only be used to store long arms like rifles and shotguns. If your weapons are of varying sizes, say you also have some exceptionally short carbines, you’ll need to take that into account when you make your plans.

The important thing is to measure the area first to ensure a good fit.

2.) Gather Your Tools and Materials

You don’t really need a lot of specialized tools in order to build a basic gun rack. If you’re planning on a lot of cosmetic embellishments you’ll want a good wood router as well, but for the most part all you’ll need is the following:

  • A Drill
  • A Pocket Screw Jig
  • Screws
  • A Table or Circular Saw
  • Sturdy Wood, scrap or newly bought plywood is fine
  • A Power Sander

If you choose to use scrap wood, make sure to prep it first. Strip off the paint and sand the surfaces smooth if they’re rough. The trade-off will be a little bit of time, but quite often you’ll be able to find much better wood for super cheap or free if you opt to use scrap wood.

Once you have everything together, we can move on to the next step.

3.) Constructing the Frame

The frame will be the anchor for the entire thing. Use the table saw or circular saw to cut everything to size, making sure it’s all symmetrical.

For a vertical rack, a square frame is the way to go. Cut the wood to the correct dimensions, but make sure that the sides of the rack are a bit wider than the tops which should be flat. Attach it all with pocket screws for a seamless look.

You’ll also need to ensure that the bottom of the frame is wide enough to safely hold the butts of any rifles you intend to place on it. Give it an extra inch or so over the widest butt for the best results.

For a horizontal rack you have two options. The first is to simply build the frame, then attach the “hooks” to hold the weapons in the next step. The second is a bit more intensive, but it’ll lead to a better rack.

You can also cut into the frame itself to make indentations for the rifle. Make sure that it’s at the right width for you to place the guns with the barrel on one side and that it will be able to grab just before the stock on the other side.

If you don’t plan on doing this, consider making the frame a “ladder” design with a few cross beams instead of just being squared. This way you’ll be able to attach the hooks to hold the rifles in an aesthetically pleasing way in the next step.

A wood router, drum sander, or bandsaw is your best bet if you’re going to make the indentations directly in the frame itself. The end look will be a lot better if you decide to do this, but if you don’t have the tools and just want a serviceable rack you can do fine without it.

4.) Constructing the Rests

For a vertical rack you’ll want to place a cross beam with indentations cut into it for the rifles to rest on. These should cradle the rifle’s barrel, but it’s not super important to cut them really tight. This will allow you to place a variety of guns along there if you want.

Cutting the indentations can be a bit tricky for those who aren’t used to carpentry, but a bandsaw or jig saw is the easiest way to go about it.

If you’re making a horizontal rack with added hooks then you’re going to want to cut the hooks now or get them ready if you opted for pre-made hooks.

You can attach the hooks from behind the frame with simple wood screws. Drywall screws are also a good idea, since they’ll rest flat against the back of the frame as long as they’re driven straight and sit flush with the wall when you’re hanging the rack.

5.) Finishing the Rack

Take your sander, regardless of your design, and round off all of the sharp corners for a smoother look for the rack. Take your time, be precise, and you’ll end up with a much nicer rack.

After sanding, you can paint or stain the rack if you wish. This is particularly useful if you had a wide variety of scrap wood of different colors, since it’ll allow for a great final finish.

After that, you’ll just need to hang the rack if it’s the kind that goes on the wall. For this you’ll want to set it over a stud and use screws for the most part. Remember that the weight of the rifles will add up quite quickly, so it’s important that you have a solid anchor point to go with.


If you were looking for how to build a rifle rack, we’ve given you a basic outline that should be suitable for even amateur carpenters. They make a convenient way to access your arms and a well-built rack also makes a great display for the home. Give it a shot, you never know what you might be able to pull off.