Surfboard Fin Tower Rack

So I thought a neat project to undertake would be this Futures “Test Ride Center” Fin Tree. It’s normally found in surf shops as a display stand for fin samples. Someone on the local surf forum was interested in buying one of these display racks from a surf shop for his home, for storage and for surf decor. I saw it as a challenge. Eddie Murphy’s comedy routine about his Mom making him a “home” Big Mac ran through my head- “I’ll make you a burger BETTER than McDonald’s!”

The Futures Fin Tree (

So, to start off, I knew I wanted to make this from mostly wood since that’s what I had the tools to work with, and I wanted it to spin like the floor display. The rack needed to have at least three shelves and needed to be tall and narrow like the one in the picture. I also imagined holes drilled around the edge of each shelf to accomodate hooks to hang fins off of. It also needed to have enough room to hold large fins like longboard fins, not just thruster sets.
Here’s an idea of what I had in mind:

I started off buying a precut 11 3/4″ diameter by 3/4″ thick plywood disc at the hardware store. This would serve as my foundation (base). I wanted the shelves to be substantial, but not too thick (because of the hooks), so I traced circles with the base onto 1/2″ thick plywood and cut them out with a jigsaw, making 3 of these.

I needed a lazy susan to turn the stand on, and I totally lucked out when I found a plastic black electrical turntable at Goodwill! These things can hold up to 220 pounds and normally run $15.00, so this was a real find. Honestly, Goodwill is a great place to find lazy susan parts since a lot of people chuck kitchen accessories all the time. An electrical stand is an entirely different matter, though.
Here’s the turntable, shelves, and base:

Now, I needed a riser to mount these shelves on, so I went with an 1 1/4″ diameter pine dowel, like the type used for curtain rods in a closet. I cut it at Home Depot to approximately 5 feet long with their rough hand saw. A drawback with a dowel like this is that it can be somewhat uneven, so mounting shelves could be tricky since the dowel isn’t always round and perfect in diameter.
Next, I needed to drill holes through each of the shelves and base centers’ to accomodate the dowel. I used a 1 3/8″ Forstner drill bit to make a clean hole in each center, just slightly bigger than the dowel, so it can slip over. I LOVE these type of bits for this, they make a nice clean, even edge inside:

To make places to hang hooks off of, I marked off eight holes around the edge of each shelf, evenly spaced apart, about a 1/2″ from the edge. I switched to a 1/4″ bit to make these holes. I then sanded inside each hole with a Dremel sander cone bit to clear the debris out.

Now, here’s the decision point: I could make the shelves static or movable. If I made them static, I could probably epoxy glue them in place and call it good. Problem is, I might need to break it down, and also, it might be nice to adjust the width between the shelves for different sized fins.

To make the shelves removable and adjustable, I ordered rail flanges with a collar that goes all the way around with a hole on the side for a set screw to keep the shelf mounted in one place. The problem with these machined flanges turned out to be that they were just too heavy under their own weight to hold up straight! So, this was a set back. Originally, I had wanted little tension collars around the dowel under each shelf, but it’s just something that couldn’t be bought for a project this size, even after scouring the internet. I turned to my husband, another engineer, for help in designing and fabricating some collars for this project. This is what we came up with:

They’re made from poplar, which cut nicely. The donuts were cut on a specially made jig on a drill press (email if you’ve like more details), were cut in half, and re-screw back together again to fit around the dowel to make a nice tight fit against the dowel, then the shelf fits on top, then is screwed to the collar to secure it. They can be placed anywhere along the dowel shaft, so the shelves can be moved at any distance apart from each other. A fourth collar was placed at the base of the dowel against the base disk, and also screwed into that plate. I epoxyed the base disk onto the turntable.

The next step was to spray paint the dowel and shelves. I used a paint and primer spray paint that worked fairly well. The collars I painted with acrylic paint by hand. Poplar wood sucks up A LOT of paint!

To have some fun, I also decided to use some Chalkboard Spray- it comes in a a spray can- just on the 3 shelf tops. I thought this might help to organize and identify fin sizes, types, etc.

Chalkboard Paint

For safety, I bought a 10 lb disc weight in black that I epoxyed to the bottom of the turntable to, to prevent the piece from easily tipping over. In addition, I glued 8 rubber feet along the outer edge so it wouldn’t scratch the floor.


Lastly, I got some s-hooks to place into the shelf holes to hang fins off of. Here’s the rack finished:

Spin me right round baby, right round!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s