Ultra Simple 2x4 Server Rack

It doesn't get any easier or cheaper than this. Build a 4ft tall server rack from 2x4 BigBox hardware lumber.

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There's something to be said about computing for computing's sake. A lot of the magic is gone now that people are using laptops and tablets as just "the tool by which I view LOLcats". But there is still something awe-inspiring about a rack full of blinking, whirring servers. Now you too can bring the fun into your spare closet for like 25000 Dogecoins.

This project uses four cheaply available 2x4 boards and assembles them into a 4-foot-tall rack mount frame, suitable for housing generic 19" rack hardware. Wood is great: it's abundant, light, and strong. Heck, it even grows on trees!

Probably the biggest selling point of this setup is that it can be assembled for under $20. The main photo for this project is from my prototype version, made from stolen^H^H^H^H^H^Hrecycled lumber from a concrete pouring project down the street.

A note on dimensions.  The magic of "standardization" has firmly ensured that a 19" rack actually has no 19" wide components.  Also, a 2x4 isn't really 2x4.

I have attached an image which I shamelessly took from - it shows how the spacing on server racks works out.  This design has a 17.75" clearance for putting gear in, and the short sides of the 2x4 posts are wide enough to put faceplates over.

As for the venerable 2x4, it now measures 1.5" by 3.5".  Go figure.  Some folks say it's because the lumber is 2x4 before planing and drying.  I say, it's Fun Size!

PS: This started out as a TOTALLY SRS BIZNSS PROJECT FOR HACKADAY PROJECTS I SWEAR.  But somewhere between the beginning and end of filling this out, I realized I was describing "get some boards and screw them together" as though it was the greatest thing ever.  At least I have more things to bug the dev team about, right?


SketchUp Project

SSEYO Koan Play File - 23.04 kB - 03/10/2016 at 22:19


  • 4 × 2x4x96 Stud
  • 32 × 2.5" Screw

  • 1
    Step 1

    Go to your local Big Box hardware store (Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, Ace, …).  Find a nice employee in the lumber section and ask for "Four cheap two-by-fours, and someone to cut them for you".  Getting the boards cut in store saves you time, plus the cuts are straight and accurate, and it's easier to fit in your car.

  • 2
    Step 2

    Have them cut the boards for you to these specs:

    • Board #1 and 2: 20.75", then 20.75", then the remainder should be cut in half (will be 27.25" each, minus whatever is converted to sawdust)
    • Board #3 and 4: Just saw these in half: 48" long.

    This will give you four 20.75" boards, four 27.25" boards, and four 48" boards.

  • 3
    Step 3

    Go back to the store and pick up the screws you forgot, dummy!

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signal7 wrote 04/27/2015 at 17:13 point

"plus the cuts are straight and accurate"

Unfortunately, that depends on what store you go to and what employee you wind up meeting.   My local Home Depot and Lowes don't guarantee accuracy to anything closer than a 1/4 inch, plus or minus.  I think I could do better than that with a  spork in the parking lot.  :-)  I've sized lumber and drywall in the parking lot to get things in the car from time to time.

  Are you sure? yes | no

ArsenioDev wrote 03/30/2015 at 14:57 point

This project had people staring at me because I laughed, i swear its SRS BIZNSS

  Are you sure? yes | no

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