SCUBA Tank Rack

   My friend Doug is an avid SCUBA diver.  He asked me if I could make a rack to hold his SCUBA tanks in the rear of his SUV.  Previously, he just put his tanks in the back of the truck and then piled the rest of his gear on top of them.  He wanted something that would allow him to easily remove the tanks and still store lots of other gear on top of them as well.

   The design I came up with was fairly simple.  It’s just a box with four internal compartments for the SCUBA tanks and a large area on top for other gear.  The overall box measures 38 ½” wide by 33” long by 9 Ύ” high.  The openings for the tanks measure 8 ½” x 8 ½”, which provides enough room to easily insert the 7 ½” diameter tanks but not so much room that they roll around haphazardly.

   The top and bottom of the case are made of ½” birch plywood.  The vertical supports are oak-laminated particle board.  The strips around the edge of the top cargo area are poplar.

   The five vertical support sections are set into dadoes and rabbets in both the top and bottom of the case.  The are all secured with both glue and 1” wood screws.  Each of the vertical sections also contains two holes through the side.  The holes are 4” in diameter and serve several purposes.  First, the holes make the case a little lighter and therefore easier to lift and load into the truck.  Second, the holes allow for air circulation.  This will be important since the tanks may often still be a little wet when they are placed back into the rack.  Third, the holes are large enough for a person to put his hand through so that he can clean the inside of the tank compartments (of sand, seaweed, etc.) if necessary.  Fourth, the holes provide places for ropes or bungee cords to be attached so that the rack can be tied down or so that other items can be tied to the rack itself.

   The top of the case is fitted with black rubber matting.  This will provide a non-slick surface on which to store other items and will also help waterproof the top of the cabinet.  The rest of the cabinet has been treated with a water-sealer to guard against moisture.  Additionally, I ran a bead of silicone down each joint to provide moisture protection.  The rubber mat was attached with industrial staples.  The edges of the mat were then covered with strips of Ύ” poplar which also provide a border to help control smaller items stored on top of the case.  At each corner of the top of the case, I attached a 5/16” eye bolt through the top.  These can be used as tie-downs to help secure any gear stored on top of the case.

   The tanks are prevented from sliding out the back of the case by a 3” tall strip of the laminated particle board that is permanently attached with glue and screws.  The tanks are prevented from sliding out the front of the cabinet by a removable piece of poplar measuring 5” x 38 ½” x Ύ”.  The board is held in place against the cabinet using bungee cords.  The cords run through some quick-release hooks that attach to the board via 3/8” eye bolts.  The front of the cabinet is also at the rear of the truck and, therefore, the SCUBA tanks will also be prevented from sliding out of the cabinet whenever the tailgate of the truck is closed.

   I didn’t need to make any real jigs to aid in the creation of this project, but I did need to create one circle pattern to use with my router.  I needed a way to cut a series (ten, to be exact) of 4” diameter circles in the vertical supports.  I ended up making a circle pattern in a piece of ½” thick poplar.  I used my plunge router with a Ύ” straight bit with a bearing to cut the circles.  Once I got a rhythm going, I was able to make all of the circle cuts easily and fairly quickly.  More importantly, all the circles are identical.

   This was an interesting project because its intended purpose was so different from most of my other work.  I hope it provides my friend years of service and accompanies him on many SCUBA diving trips.

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