How do I build DIY overhead pulley storage systems for a garage?

Updated July 20, 2017

In most garages, storage space is at a premium. Every available corner is filled with an assortment of items that rarely get used and are constantly in the way. Even if storage space is available in the rafters, it is inconvenient to access the items in storage. By building a simple platform and then attaching it to the ceiling structure using a pulley system, adequate storage is created in an out of the way location, but is also conveniently accessed when needed.

Build the platform

Measure and cut the 5 cm x 10 cm (2 x 4 inches) lumber to the lengths required for your storage platform. For a simple 1.2 m x 2.4 m (4 feet x 8 feet) rectangular platform, the two longer pieces will be 2.4 m (8 feet) long while the shorter support pieces will be 1.14 m (3 feet 9 inches). The measurement for the shorter support pieces has been reduced to take into account the additional 7.5 cm (3 inch) depth of the two long pieces -- a 5 cm x 10 cm (2 x 4 inches) board is actually 3.8 cm x 8.9 cm (1.5 inches x 3.5 inches), so the two long 2-by-4s would add a total of 7.5 cm (3 inches) to the size of the platform.

Cut two 5 cm x 10 cm (2 x 4 inches) boards to 2.4 m (8 feet) long, and five 5 cm x 10 cm (2 x 4 inches) boards to 1.14 m (3 feet 9 inches) long. Using 7.5 cm (3 inch) wood screws, attach the 2.4 m (8 feet) long pieces to the ends of the shorter support pieces. You should use two screws at each end of the shorter pieces, for a total of 20 screws.

Attach one sheet of plywood to the top of the wood frame. Use 4 cm (1-1/2 inches) wood screws at 30 cm (12 inch) intervals along each of the 5 cm x 10 cm (2 x 4 inches) supports.

Screw an eye bolt into each corner of the platform. A total of 4 eye bolts are needed for the platform. These bolts have wood screw threads on one end, and steel loop on the other, allowing the attachment of the anchor rope.

Install the pulley system

Screw an eye bolt into the ceiling structure at each end of the location where the storage unit will be installed. The bolt should be securely threaded into a ceiling joist or rafter, not just into the drywall ceiling.

Attach the pulleys to these eye bolts using a short length of chain.

Install a tie-off bracket at chest level on the wall at each end of the location where the storage unit will be installed. This will be used to secure the rope while the unit is aloft.

Install lengths of chain to each of the eye bolts on the platform. Connect the chains with a steel ring.

Thread the rope through the pulley and tie it off on the steel ring. Pull down on the rope to raise the platform, then tie it off on the bracket to hold it securely.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Wood lumber, 5 cm x 10 cm (2 x 4 inches)
  • Mitre saw
  • Wood screws, 7.5 cm (3 inches)
  • Drill
  • Sheet of 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) plywood, 1.2 m x 2.4 m (4 feet x 8 feet)
  • Wood screws, 4 cm (1-1/2 inches)
  • Eye bolts
  • Steel chain - four 1.2 m (4 foot lengths), two 60 cm (2 foot) lengths
  • Steel rings
  • Rope - two lengths of at least 7.5 m (25 feet)
  • Tie-off brackets
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About the Author

Brandon Maxwell began writing professionally in 2007 by creating how-to articles and tutorials for production software within the design industry. In addition to the training guides and technical resources he has written, Brandon also has in-depth knowledge of home improvement and repair; landscaping and outdoor maintenance; and various subjects involving outdoor recreation. He graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Virginia Tech in 2007.