Building a Rack System for Comic Long Boxes


Photo credit: Bob Bretall

I’ve talked about Comic Houses and Drawer Boxes that can  be bought specifically to hold comics a a fairly efficient way, but this time around I’m going to talk about building a racking system to hold comic long boxes.  I love the Drawer Boxes, but by the time they came around I already had hundreds of long boxes that I didn’t want to throw away, so I wanted a method of holding all those boxes.

There are a couple of reasons to make a racking system:

  1. If you stack long boxes one on top of another, the bottom row will begin to crush under the weight of the ones above if you go higher than about 4 boxes.
  2. It’s difficult to get at the comics in the bottom row….this basically means you need to remove all the boxes on top, which is time consuming and tiring.
  3. It’s a really bad idea to leave comic boxes sitting directly on the floor.  If there is a spill/leak it is going to attack the bottom row of boxes. A rack will hold the bottom row up off the ground.
  4. Use a strong material because comic boxes full of comics are HEAVY.  I recommend steel, and not thin steel either.


I needed to take into consideration that I wanted something

  1. I could build myself fairly easily
  2. Would hold long boxes
  3. Was preferably made of steel because most wooden shelving will bow under the weight of all those comics over time

I searched around various hardware stores, considering and rejecting a number of units, mostly due to one or the other of two reasons:

  • The shelves were not deep enough, so would not hold long boxes.  I needed something deeper than 18 to 24 inches, which seemed to be very commonly available shelving depths
  • The shelves were not adjustable enough in their levels.  I wanted to be able to get as many shelves vertically as possible without wasting a lot of empty space between the boxes and the next level of shelving

Ultimately, I found a customizable racking system at Lowe’s Home Improvement.  These were heavy gauge steel racks where you bought the side racks in the depth/height you wanted, added the rails that connected the two side racks horizontally, and best yet, the shelves themselves were a heavy gauge steel rack that could just be dropped into place. Here are what the rack sides & beams look like in the store:

The only trouble I had was that they only carried a 24″ depth of the rack sides in the store, but I was able to custom order a 30″ depth.  So to build each unit, here is what I ordered:

  • 2 rack sides, 96″ high by 30″ deep
    (I have 2 units that are 72″ high instead of 96″)
  • 10 rails, 48″ long
    (other widths are available and can be used)
  • 10 steel racks, 24″ wide by 30″ deep
  • 5 center support bars, 30″ deep (optional, but I wanted the extra stability/sturdiness)

Photo Credit: Bob Bretall

I decided, to maximize the vertical space I had available, that I would do the bottom 2 racks where I would stack boxes on top of one another and then do the top 2 racks that were only 1 box each.  It’s fairly easy to move 1 box to get at a box underneath, and when it is low, that is also pretty easy to do physically.  This allowed me to get 6 rows of boxes in, with the option of putting a 7th row on the top.  Though actually, I keep Rubbermaid bins full of toys & action figures on the top.  You will also notice that I secured heavy gauge plastic sheeting to the sides and rear of each unit just to make them a bit more enclosed, since they’re in my garage (that does not get too hot because of the insulation, nor does it get moist, because I live in a low humidity part of California).   Here are some bar code photos that may help anyone wanting to locate these items, but I make no guarantees, since it has been many years since I built these things.

Below is a close-up of one of the shelves, before boxes.  The photo at the top of this blog shows the racks all filled with long boxes.


Photo Credit: Bob Bretall

Hopefully this will be of some help to people wanting to build a racking system for their long boxes.  You can modify this advice if you’re storing short boxes, of course, as that would open a lot of options of shelving units that are shallower than 30″.  The main concern then would be the adjustability of shelf height.

I tried to capture as much specific information as I remember and hopefully this will be useful to some collectors out there.  Remember:

Keep your boxes off the ground whenever you are able!

Bob Bretall: Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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2 Responses to Building a Rack System for Comic Long Boxes

  1. Jason says:

    What was your over all cost to make one shelving unit?

    • Jason,

      I don’t recall precisely, but can reconstruct from the photos above:

      2 rack sides: These were $47 each = $94
      10 rails: These were $16 each = $160
      10 steel racks + 5 center support bars –> I don’t recall the exact price put I think they were $7 or $8 each. Let’s call it $10 each on the high side so that’s $150.
      That makes the entire unit a bit over $400.
      There are certainly cheaper ways to go that will use less sturdy materials or be pre-configured and not necessarily hold as many long boxes.

      When you add in a couple of hundred bucks for the long boxes themselves, this is certainly not cheap. If I was doing this from scratch as a new collector (I already had 100s of long boxes when I started), I’d just go with DrawerBoxes:

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