DIY Fishing Rod Holder with Storage

DIY Fishing Rod Holder with Storage

and optional IKEA Shortcut

 Rod holder with two storage shelves and two 4" deep sliding storage boxes.

Rod holder with two storage shelves and two 4" deep sliding storage boxes.

This year for our anniversary, my husband and I decided to make each other’s gifts.  He asked for a fishing rod holder to contain his rods and reels, which up to now have been stacked against the wall in the garage next to boxes of his fishing equipment.  In an ongoing attempt to organize the garage, I decided that a two-in-one fishing rod holder and storage system was what he needed.

I spent an hour searching the Internet for fishing rod holder systems and finally came up with my design, which combines a fishing rod holder I liked with a Lego storage unit with sliding drawers.  You never know where you’ll find inspiration, amiright? 

I discovered that the Lego storage unit from the picture I liked was an IKEA system called TROFAST.  My plan became to mimic the TROFAST system with some adjustments.  Luckily for me, I have an IKEA close by, so I picked up a couple 4” sliding drawers as well as a set of shelves that go with the TROFAST system.  Here’s where the optional IKEA shortcut comes in. 

If you’d rather not spend time building the frame of the unit, you can opt instead to buy the TROFAST frame and add the top and bottom panels.  If this is your plan, skip down to Step 3.

 

How to Build the Fishing Rod Holder with Storage

 

For this build, you’re going to need:

  • Table saw (or circular saw)
  • Drill 
  • Forstner bits or a hole saw in 2” and 1.5” diameter 
  • Kreg Jig or other pocket hole system
  • Eye protection
  • Ear protection
  • Dust mask

 

Shopping List:

 

**Shopping List for Optional IKEA Shortcut:

 

Step 1:  Make your cuts

To build the frame of the fishing rod holder, you need two 16” x 24” panels for the top and bottom, and two 12” x 36” panels for the sides.  I had originally planned to use 3/4” plywood, but found project panel boards in the dimensions that I needed and decided to use those instead.  I prefer the look of the project panel boards over the plywood, but either one will do.  

If you don’t want to make the cuts yourself, typically a larger hardware store will make the cuts for you for a small charge.  

 I found these project panels at Lowes.  3/4" cabinet-grade plywood cut to size would work too.

I found these project panels at Lowes.  3/4" cabinet-grade plywood cut to size would work too.

 

Step 2:  Cut your dadoes

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It may sound intimidating if you’ve never cut your own dadoes before, but I promise you there’s nothing to it if you have a table saw or router.  I made my dadoes with a table saw, but if you have a router with a 1/2” straight edge bit, that will work just as well.  

You’ll be cutting dadoes in the panels that will form the sides of the fishing rod holder, which will hold the shelves and the storage boxes.  

This is where you can customize your unit according to your preference.  The TROFAST system offers storage boxes at different depths (4”, 9”, and 14.25”), as well as shelves. 

Decide which depth boxes and/or shelves will work for your personal storage needs, then mark on the sides of the unit where you want them placed.

For my husband’s fishing rod holder, I chose two shelves to hold clear plastic compartments for his bait and tackle, and two storage boxes at 4” each.  I left plenty of space at the bottom for his tackle box.  If you have more gear to store, add more storage boxes or shelves.

Measure and draw lines on both side panels (double check to make sure they mirror each other).   When you are making your marks, make sure to account for the 1/2” dado you will be cutting.

Now it’s time to cut those dadoes!  Raise your table saw blade up 1/4” and cut along the line you marked, then nudge your fence over little by little, cutting as you go, until you’ve cut a 1/2” dado into the board.  Repeat for each of your marks.  Use a wood chisel to clean out each dado to ensure the shelves and storage boxes will slide easily.  

 Measurements for the sides of my frame, measured from the top.  Customize your own!

Measurements for the sides of my frame, measured from the top.  Customize your own!

Step 3:  Drill the holes for your fishing rods

This fishing rod holder I made can hold 9 rods.  You could add more holes to the sides and back if you need more storage.   I spaced the center of each hole 1.5” away from the edges and about 5.5” away from each other.  Mark the center of each hole on both the top and bottom panels.  Make sure they mirror each other so your rods will stand up straight.

For the top board, you will need to drill all the way through the board using your 2” forstner bit or hole saw.  For the bottom panel, drill down about 1/4” using a 1.5” forstner bit, or just enough to make a holding space for the bottom of the rod.

 Drill all the way through the top panel, but not for the bottom panel.

Drill all the way through the top panel, but not for the bottom panel.

After you’ve finished making the holes, cut 1/4” slots on one side of each hole on the top panel, providing a space for the rod to slide into the hole.  (Refer to picture)

I used my table saw, but you could use a circular saw or even a hack saw to make the slots.

 Cut 1/4" slots to one side of each hole on the top panel.

Cut 1/4" slots to one side of each hole on the top panel.

Step 4:  Assemble the frame

The sides of the frame need to be exactly 16” apart from the inside edge.  This will provide enough space for the shelves and storage boxes to slip snuggly into the dadoes.

On the top and bottom panels, make a mark at the exact center.  Then measure out 8” towards the right side and 8” towards the left side and make your marks.  The inside edge of the side panels should touch this mark.  The side panels should be flush with what will be the front of the frame.  

Attach the sides to the top and bottom using wood glue and pocket holes.  For additional strength, you could also drill a couple 2.5” wood screws through the top and bottom panels into the side panels.  

 Pocket holes joining the side to the bottom.  Notice how it's flush with the front of the unit.

Pocket holes joining the side to the bottom.  Notice how it's flush with the front of the unit.

Step 4B: Optional IKEA Hack

After drilling the holes in Step 3, make sure the frame is flush with the front of the top and bottom panels and attach them with wood glue and 1.25” wood screws.

 

Step 5: Add braces for stability

I had scrap 1x2s laying around, so I cut two 16” lengths and attached one to the top and one to the bottom on the back of the frame with pocket holes for extra stability.  

 Braces added for extra stability.

Braces added for extra stability.

Step 6: Customize your rod holder

I recommend adding castors to the bottom for easy mobility.  After you’ve added them, sand and then stain or paint the project to your preference.  I wood burned a snook onto the top as a nod to my husband’s love of saltwater flats fishing.  

 I'm hoping this snook will give my husband some good luck while fishing!

I'm hoping this snook will give my husband some good luck while fishing!

Thanks for following along with my tutorial!  I’d love to see your versions of this project.  Leave a picture and comment below!

Take care,

Ashley