Last year I bought a boat, and within two weeks decided I needed a gun rack to go with it. I weighed my options, and decided to forgo the quick pre-built rack and exercise my atrophying DIY skills to make my own custom job. I scoured the net to evaluate all gun racks out there, and plagiarize all the features that looked nice. Big hat-tip to Mr. Paul, who posted up a nice gun rack build thread on weirdboard a few years ago. He made it sound quick and easy. I thought his rack was awesome, and it definitely set the direction I wanted to go for my own rack. Four weeks into boat-ownership I had myself a big ass piece of starboard, and was ready to start hacking into it. Then came the thinking, planning, drawing, redrawing, practice cutting, re-working, forgetting about it for a few months...
Well... about a year later, the rack is ready for prime time. I had big plans on making a detailed posting on how this thing was made, but between new phone purchases, loosing old pictures, and losing excitement over the project over this drawn out process, I really just have a quick summary and a few pics to show. The first attached pic is from January, with a fully assembled gun rack, but without having figured out how I was going to mount the damned thing. I settled on a 7 gun rack, with the one extra space on the end also being suitable for storage of pole-spears or extra shafts.
I was squeamish with my new boat, and didn't want to drill any new holes. I also didn't want to fix it permanently to the boat... I really liked the idea of being able to remove it easily for whatever reason. My boat came with two rod holders on each side... I wanted to be able to use those to mount the rack, but they are mounted at different angles, which would prevent a simple attachment system from sliding in there. I decided that new holes were unavoidable, but I wanted it to look as clean as possible. So I coughed up more $$ for two more stainless steel Whaler rod holders, but these would be vertical mount holders. I measured the layout six times before sinking the drill bit painfully into the shiny gelcoat. In the end I'm very happy with the way the new rod holders turned out. They look great, and are rock solid.
Another visit to west marine and I realized the stainless steel railing hardware I was planning on using was going to cost a crap ton. I ended up buying the rod and fasteners at west marine, but ordered the 90 degree elbows and tees online. The online order only cost half a crap ton. I wasn't sure about how strong everything would be, so overkill was the order of the day. After assembling the mounting system and trying to flex it, I realize that it is probably four times stronger than it needs to be. Pretty sure I could tow a skier from it. I also made some spacer inserts out of two inch dowel, to put into the rod holders, which prevents the 0.75 inch stainless tubing from rattling around in the rod holder.
Overall I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. It took a lot longer than I anticipated, and I might go the pre-built route if I could make a time traveling phone call to myself a year in the past. But now that its done, and is just the way I want it, it does result in some personal satisfaction. Its both very secure, and can also be removed from the boat in seconds for cleaning or just making more space for a family trip.