Overhead storage made from J-hooks and boards. Storing Long and Light Stuff:

Simple and Cheap Overhead Storage
With Ladder Hooks


A simple light-duty overhead storage rack is made from a pair of boards, each of which is supported by a pair of ladder hooks (J-hooks).

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Skill Level: 1 (Easy) Time Taken: 10 Minutes

By , Editor



For the past few months I've been on an "organizing binge", trying to bring some semblance of order to my overburdened and chaotic workshop, storage garage, and basement. I've got lots of long, light and bulky items that aren't used often, and getting them away from the main storage shelves seemed the best thing to do. The last available space in my shop is the ceiling, so I decided to try an idea for a quick and easy storage solution.

The basic "J" hook, meant for hanging ladders from the ceiling. This hook has a 5/16" lag screw end, and is rated at only 25 pounds. But that's enough for my light-duty overhead storage needs.

I got these for a quarter each at my top-secret ultra-discount close-out bargain store. *

Home Depot sells some heavier J-hooks with 3/8" lag threads. Those are rated at 50 pounds each.

"Before" Photo

The ceiling of my shop. There are roof trusses spaced at 24" on center, but you can't see them because the kraft-faced insulation covers the wood.

The paper facing of this insulation is not supposed to be left uncovered (because it will burn if it comes in contact with a flame), but since this garage is not attached to the house, and there are few possible sources of ignition, I'm not overly worried.

I pre-drilled the holes for the J-hooks, using a 1/4" drill bit. 

It's important to drill close to the centerline of the bottom chord of the truss, to ensure that the screw has a good solid "bite".


I've been asked by a few people: How do you know what size of hole to drill?

The diameter of the drill bit should be about the same as the root diameter of the screw thread. The root diameter is the diameter of the metal shaft at the bottom of the little valleys on the threads. I just hold up a drill bit directly behind the screw thread to see if the drill is about the same size as the solid metal part at the base of the threads. You have to close one eye to do this.

If the hole is too much smaller than the root diameter then the screw will be hard to turn, and could break.

If the hole is too much bigger than the root diameter, then the screw will be suspiciously easy to tighten, and could pull out of the hole.



I screwed in the hooks by hand.


The first two hooks, which were screwed into the same truss, were oriented so a board could rest on them.


I stuck a piece of 1x4 on the hooks, and it just happened to fit perfectly.


I installed a second pair of J-hooks. The red arrows point to the boards. (I should have painted the boards white so they'd be more visible.)

What we have is two suspended parallel boards, six feet apart. Each board is about 4 feet long.


I loaded the rack with long materials, such as electrical conduit and thin pieces of lumber. This might also work for thin pieces of sheet goods, such as plywood.


It seemed to me that a support board could somehow get pushed off the J-hook, so I tried different methods of securing the boards.

The first thing I tried was just tying the board with a piece of mechanic's wire.


A couple of cable ties applied in an X-pattern seemed to hold well.


A short strip of plumber's tape (perforated steel strap) secured with two sheet metal screws was perhaps the best method of securing the boards.


The second rack.

I spaced these boards four feet apart, to hold shorter items like skis and gardening tools.

Note how each rack occupies the space between the garage door opener and a garage door track.


This was unbelievably easy. What baffles me is: why didn't I think of this sooner?



Overhead Storage Solutions:
  • Above the garage door
  • Any place with open space overhead



Tools Used:

  • Cordless Drill/Driver
  • Saw
  • Basic Carpentry Tools


Materials Used:

  • Ladder Hooks (J-hooks)
  • Lumber, 1x4x8'
  • Plumber's Tape
  • Screws
  • Mechanic's Wire
  • Cable Ties


* My source for the J-hooks is a store called Townline Unlimited Bargain Barn in the city of Manistee, on the west coast of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. They have loads of tools and hardware, good and cheap. No, they don't have a web site... they don't even accept credit cards.


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Written December 12, 2002