How To Make Your Own Headache Rack

Naomi O'Colman

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How To Make Your Own Headache Rack

The headache rack is something that most commercial vehicles have and it’s typically behind the cab of the truck. It protects the bed of the truck by preventing sliding items from hitting it. Making your own headache rack will help to shield your truck from damage. These racks can be easy to build and install with the right tools and welding experience.

How To Make Your Own Headache Rack


  • Two-inch square sheet metal tubing at approximately 30 feet.
  • Two 12 inch by 4 inch by ½ inch steel plates
  • Eight 1/2″ bolts, three of which should be grade 7 with lock washers
  • 1/2″ drill bit on your drill
  • Ratchet with sockets
  • Welder
  • Tape measure
  • Steel chop saw

How to Build a Headache Rack

Step 1: Use a tape measure to measure: the width of the top of the cabin, the height of the cabin to get the distance from the bed rail to the top of cab.

Step 2: In order to make a headache rack, use the chop saw to cut four pieces of square steel to the appropriate length and thickness.

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Step 3: Finding the center of both pieces of steel will help with aligning them.

Step 4: Place the two pieces of steel that have been cut to a height about 12 inches from the ends of the top piece of steel.

Step 5: Start welding the steel together.

Step 6: Use a tape measure to find the length and cut two pieces of steel to use as the end pieces of the headache rack.

Tip: You can weld together edge pieces by cutting the ends at a thirty-degree angle.

Step 7: Create the headache rack by attaching the end pieces to the top and bottom rails.

You can weld them together or use a rivet gun if you don’t have access to a welder.

Step 8: Stand up the headache rack and weld in place.

Step 9: After fully welding all of the joints, you should get a headache rack that is sturdy for your vehicle.

Step 10: Prior to installing it, paint the rack.

Step 11: Place the rack in the desired location.

Warning: The rack should be attached to the truck with at least a one-inch gap between it and the cab, so it does not touch the metal

Step 12: Drill four evenly spaced holes into each of the plates, making sure that they extend all the way through.

Step 13: Install the four bolts with lock washers as snug as possible using your hands.

Step 14: Before installing the headache rack, use your ratchet and appropriate socket to tighten all of the bolts.

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After installing the headache rack, you want to be sure that it is secure and not moving. Do this by pushing and pulling on it, examining the welding, and inspecting all bolts for tightness.


You have now built and installed your own headache rack onto your vehicle. By doing this you are protecting your truck’s cab from anything hitting it should it shift while driving. Keep in mind that when building a headache rack you can add as much metal to it as you would like to make it stronger or more decorative. Should you want to make it stronger you can add more of the same square tubed steel between each piece.

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