Attic Access Solution

Currently my attic is accessed by removing two pieces of plywood above a doorway in the garage.

The plywood panels are held in with Drywall screws. This is a problem for several reasons:

  • There are two pieces of plywood rather than one. Easy fix. Just screw some small board or strips of plywood to the back to join the two pieces to make one “Door”.
  • The plywood “Door” is held on with drywall screws which are difficult to remove and replace and a pain to retrieve if you drop them.
  • There are no “Handles” on the plywood “Door”. That makes it more difficult than necessary to remove and replace the door.

A Solution

So here’s a solution I’ve come up with:

Using CNC clamps and and gate handles it’s easy to “Clamp” the plywood door into the opening. The CNC clamps are captive to around the door. So they are easy to spin loose, secure and can’t be dropped. The left picture shows a mock-up of the scheme. and the right side shows the back side of the 2×4 surrounding wood. The bolts that came with the CNC clamps are not quite long enough to reach through a 2×4, but that’s easily fixed by countersinking the “T” bolt head into the 2×4 with a 1″ Forstner bit to allow enough length of the bolt on the other side.

On Amazon I found CNC clamps made from Aluminum and using standard 5/16″ bolts. I avoided the clamps that used some odd metric thread so I would have the option of using longer 5/16″ carriage bolts if I need to. But with countersinking, the current bolts work just fine.

To use the clamps, just spin it lose, swing it to the side and tighten slightly so it won’t interfere with the door being removed.

Yes, CNC “T” track clamps are way over kill for this project, but they are the cheapest thing I could find. Sure I could have made something like this myself, but not out of metal and wooden ones might break easily. These clamps are about $20 for 2. I’ll probably need 4 to hold the door securely.

If you work in Metal, then making these from some 1/4″ plate would be pretty easy. Rubber feet aren’t necessary for this application of course. And 5/16″ knobs are easily found I’m sure.

Problem solved as soon as I get a couple more clamps and install them.

Update: Complete

Several points to note:

  • The Masonite will protect the drywall from denting by the clamps.
  • The two pieces of the plywood are joined with a couple of 1/2″ plywood strips on the back.
  • The two lower clamps are backed by pieces of 1/2″ plywood held to the plywood with screws through the Masonite and drywall since there were no 2x4s behind those edges of the opening. The plywood extends about 1″ into the opening to back the “door”. The original 3 1/2″ “T” bolts are long enough for these clamps.
  • The upper clamps are secured through 2×4 studs that surround the opening. Those clamps are secured with 5″ x 5/16″ carriage bolts through the 2x4s.
  • The clamps are easily loosened and swung to the side and then slightly tightened so they don’t swing into the opening while you work in the attic.
  • Once the clamps are loosened and swung out of the way the “door” is easily removed using the handles and set on the “ceiling” of the laundry room to the right of the opening.

Problem solved. Easy to get into the attic now without tools.