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Building a DIY Gantry Crane

Building a DIY Gantry Crane

gantry crane


Whether you like doing it or not, sometimes you need help to lift heavy things at home, and you’re either going to need a group of friends to help, or you’re going to need to spend a bunch of money and time hiring a forklift or something similar to get the job done.


Neither option is especially great because you’re relying on other people’s time or spending extra money to use something once.


Building a gantry crane could be the solution you’re looking for. You get a weekend project of building the crane, and you have something you can use for a long time, which is ideal if you’ve got a lot of jobs or projects coming up.


Before you dive into building your gantry crane, first, there are a few things to consider.


What Is A Gantry Crane?

A gantry crane is an overhead crane that can typically be moved around on crane casters and used to hoist or lift heavy options that are too heavy to lift manually.


Using a gantry crane can save your knees and back on those heavy loads that could be done manually but maybe shouldn’t be.


Your crane is ideal for moving heavy objects up and down and side to side. If you’ve attached heavy-duty crane casters to it, you can even wheel your heavy objects to different locations much easier and less fiddling than on a trolley or something similar.


What Type Of DIY Gantry Crane Do You Have in Mind?

For a gantry crane, there are three main types that you can build, including fixed gantry cranes, adjustable gantry cranes, and telescoping gantry cranes.


Fixed gantry cranes are fixed height, which means you can’t perform any adjustment up or down on the frame, but if you don’t need adjustment, these are the cheapest and easiest to make.


Adjustable gantry cranes are the next step up and allow for adjustment of the frame height so that you can handle a wider range of lifting needs. They’re still pretty simple, cheap, and easy to make and could be the best option for people that need some adjustable in what they’re lifting.


Telescoping gantry cranes are expensive and complicated to build, you will be adding a large number of additional components to deal with it, and the maintenance can be higher in the long run. If you need precise height adjustments and the ability to work on uneven surfaces and up to two tonnes of load, then you may need a telescoping gantry crane.


Components Needed For A DIY Gantry Crane

Your frame design is probably fairly similar to all gantry cranes, with two legs on either side of an A-frame design. You’ve got a few different components, and each has a few options, including the frame, which could be wood, steel, or aluminum.


Review the options below to see which components and materials are best for your crane.


Frame Options

Wood will be a less expensive option but will be able to carry less load than other materials. Depending on how much you need to load, a wood frame could be the simplest and cheapest option for you to get moving. Your wood frame will react to the elements more so than other materials, so it’s likely to die sooner than other options.


Steel is the most common material, and you’ll find most online plans will use steel in them; if your projects require 500lbs or more, then steel would be the winner as your crane material. It’ll be more expensive to build than wood but can carry more weight and will last a lot longer.


Aluminum is an expensive material to use in your crane, it’s more challenging to build, but it’s a lightweight material that allows for the best movement of heavy objects. So if your requirements are to move heavy objects more than just up and down, left and right, then aluminum may be the requirement unless you can get some great crane casters that handle and maneuver well with a big steel gantry crane.



You can install a single or double girder; in most situations, a single girder will be cheaper and easier to incorporate into your crane unless you specifically need the double girder for something, it should not be included.


A double girder will only be required if you need more power, with a higher capacity rating and more hook weight than a single girder can offer. If you need service walks or lights, then you may also need a double girder.


Hoist and Trolley

For a gantry crane, you’ll have three hoist and trolley options to pick from, manual chain hoist, electric chain hoist, and electric cable hoist.


Manual chain hoists are cheap and easy to install, though as the name suggests, there is a manual component to pull the chain to hoist the heavy object up.


Electric chain hoists remove the human hoisting component and make the process faster and easy for you on heavier loads.


Electric cable hoists are the most convenient and costly; they can hoist and pull as much weight as the gantry crane can handle. So if you can afford or budget for this option, it’ll make life much easier for you.


Crane Casters (Wheels)

Before deciding, we recommend that you check with our sales team. As industry leading industrial caster manufacturers, we can guide you on what type of crane casters are appropriate, including the loads they can take. We will be able to provide specs on all our crane casters so you can pick the best option for the loads you’ll be taking and the surfaces you’ll be rolling on.


Some types of crane casters, such as industrial steel or iron casters, can take extremely heavy loads, but they can be loaded and potentially damage some flooring.


Polyurethane casters will be able to take reasonably heavy loads, will keep most floors safe, they run quietly, and in general, are a great crane caster option unless you need extreme load-bearing, and then you’ll need to look at the steel or iron casters and check on how they handle on your type of flooring.


You can get other materials in your crane casters, but it’s best to speak with a few industrial caster manufacturers to see what their thoughts are on your DIY project. They should be able to help with the best options based on what you’re doing, and they may even be a little excited about getting their crane casters into your project to see how it does.


Give us a call to see if any of our heavy-duty polyurethane casters can handle the loads you want. Each may provide different types with varying loads capacity, so checking around for the best crane caster for your project will be critical.


Don’t forget that if your crane casters fail to do the job, it will make everything else harder and less convenient to use your DIY gantry crane.