Building a Rack System for Comic Boxes

On the Storing Comics page I talk about different kinds of comic boxes, including Drawer Boxes and Comic Houses that can  be bought specifically to hold comics a a fairly efficient way.  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 storing all those boxes.  There are a several reasons to make some kind of shelving or racking system for your comic boxes:

  1. If you stack regular long or short 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 or shelf will keep the bottom row up off the ground.


When building a rack system you can go in a bunch of different directions, but one key factor to consider is that if your storing a bunch of boxes, you need to use a strong material because comic boxes full of comics are HEAVY.  A full long box weighs about 50 pounds.  I recommend steel, and not thin steel either.


Personally, I had several hundred long boxes I needed to rack and the solution I came up with is what I'm going to walk through here.


I needed to take into consideration that I wanted something:

  • I could build myself fairly easily
  • Would hold as many long boxes as possible in a small amount of space
  • Was preferably made of steel because most wooden shelving will bow under the weight of all those boxes of comics over time


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

  1. The shelves were not deep enough, so would not hold long boxes. 
    I needed something deeper than the 18 to 24 inches which seemed to be very commonly available pre-made shelving depths.
  2. 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:

Here is a picture of a couple of of the rack units, before I loaded them with boxes:

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Notice that I have used duct tape to seal heavy duty plastic sheeting to the sides and back of the unit.  Since I'm keeping these in my garage, the plastic sheeting helps keeps dust out of the boxes


Here is a close-up of a couple of the shelves, before boxes:

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The photo at the top of this page shows the racks all filled with long boxes.


Hopefully this will be of some help to people wanting to build a rack 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 the key concern:

Keep your boxes off the ground whenever you are able!

The problem 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 
    (Note: I have 2 units that are 72″ high instead of 96″, for those  I ordered 72" sides)
  • 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)


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.