Building a Wood Slat Mk1 Roof Rack

You’ve seen them. A vintage coke cooler on top of a wood slat roof rack, on the right car, its perfect..


I have made a few over the years ( I like them best on Jettas personally).  A few years ago I had some purpose built towers made to hold the roof rack as tight to the top of the car as possible, making it more aerodynamic (or aero-dramatic, same same)  
These are made from 304 Stainless, so you can run them in a raw finish, polish them, or have them coated, but you don’t have to worry about them rusting.


You can pick up a pair here  to start your rack project.





Now onto my Jetta and its new roof fixture.


I made my crossbars from some aluminum flat bar that I had bent to a 2.0″ ID and 1/2″ legs, but you could use some channel, or rectangle tube, even some hardwood like oak, teak, walnut etc..

I made the cross bars 40″ long, that keeps it from sticking out over the drip rails of the car and risking my clumsy ass from splitting my head open getting in and out..

You can see there is some room to make them alittle longer but this works out well for the spacing I wanted.

Off to homedepot for some cedar, 6-7 1x3x8 boards, my poor mk6 tdi has to be a truck sometimes.. 

Back at the shop I cut the boards down to 48″ and 2 to 41″


The next bit is to get the spacing you want, I ended up around 1.75″ between each slat giving me at total width of 41″ (that will overhang my crossbars by 1/2″ on each side, which helps to bury it where you cant see the bar ends, if you have a taller cross bar you may want to make your overhang greater than 1/2″ but I wouldn’t exceed about 1/3rd the width of your slat.

After your have the spacing you’re happy with, sand/prep your slats for stain/paint/sealer.  I rolled all the edges of mine with a palm sander to ease some of the sharp cut edges off and make them a bit more “weathered”


Now you are ready to glue and screw/nail/staple your boards to the wooden cross bar (if you’re not using a wooden top cross bar, you’re ready to stain/paint/seal your strips and attach them each individually to your tower cross bar) I glued mine and used a galvanized 1-1/4 crown staple to attach the slats to the wooden cross board. You also could use screws from the bottom side (so they are hidden).




Now I needed to stain my assembly (Staining after allows the glue to adhere to the wood and not to the sealer) I used a thompsons water based sealer for fences and decks, I had some left over from my summer deck project last year.






Last thing to do is to attach the unit to the cross bars, I counter sunk some M8 allen head screws, and tapped my cross bar for m8x1.25 in 4 places, drilling all the way through both layers of the roof rack.  Use a locking nut from the bottom for added security against the bolts backing out with vibration.

Time to throw some gear on top and cruise around, one of my favorite parts of a roof rack is opening the sunroof, you get the wind, and the open air feel, without being baked by the sun.