How to Make PVC Storage Racks to Hold Plastic Totes

A good way to keep tools, books, papers and other household necessities organized is to put them in plastic tote bins. If you stack several of these bins, you may have trouble deciding which ones go on the bottom, since these will be the least accessible; you have to move the bins on top of them to access them. You can solve this dilemma by building a rack out of common PVC plumbing pipe and fittings. Start by constructing a tote holder with nine compartments. It's easy to add more once you understand the basic construction principle.

Fitting - PVC connection doubletree
credit: Everste/iStock/Getty Images
Fittings such as crosses simplify the assembly of PVC pipes into a structure.

Step 1

Measure the dimensions of your tote bins, including width, height and length, using a tape measure. Write down these dimensions on a piece of paper.

Step 2

Cut lengths of 1/2- or 3/4-inch PVC pipe equal to the maximum width of one of the tote bins plus 2 inches. In the same manner, cut lengths of pipe equal to the height of a bin plus 2 inches. For a nine-compartment holder, you'll need 24 crosspieces and 24 uprights.

Step 3

Cut the pipes with a hacksaw or handsaw. To make assembly easier, sand the edges of the pipes with 120-grit sandpaper after you make each cut.

Step 4

Assemble the front of the holder by fitting a side outlet tee -- also known as a corner -- onto the end of one of the crosspieces. The perpendicular port faces down, and the side outlet faces the back of the holder. Push an upright into the downward facing port.

Step 5

Fit a regular tee onto the other end of the crosspiece with its perpendicular port facing down, then insert another crosspiece into the parallel port of that tee. Add one more tee and crosspiece, then push a corner fitting onto the end of the last crosspiece, with its ports facing down and toward the back of the holder. You've just assembled the top front of the bin holder.

Step 6

Insert an upright into the downward-facing port of the original corner fitting, push a tee onto the end of that pipe, then add another pipe, another tee, one more pipe and another corner fitting. This is the front side of the bin holder.

Step 7

Construct the bottom and opposite side of the bin holder in the same way, then assemble the crosspieces and uprights to form the opening for each compartment. You'll need four-way tees -- called crosses -- to connect the crosspieces and uprights in the middle of the bin holder.

Step 8

Fit together the remaining pipes and fittings to make the back of the holder. The back is identical to the front except that the side outlets of the corner fittings face in the opposite direction -- toward the front of the bin holder.

Step 9

Cut four lengths of pipe that are about 3 inches shorter than the bins. Use these to connect the front and back of the holder by fitting them into the side outlets of the corner fittings.

Chris Deziel

Chris Deziel

Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience, and he is also an avid craftsman and musician. He began writing on home improvement topics in 2010 and worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. He currently contributes a monthly property maintenance blog on A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at