I'm trying to hang some pulleys in my garage to suspend a 70lbs kayak from the ceiling, but the ceiling joists run left to right rather than along the length of the garage. My thought is to span the joists with a ~7 foot 2x4 so I can hang affix the pulleys to the 2x4 and hang the kayak lengthwise. My question is:

What are the correct fasteners to use to affix the 2x4 to the joists so that it will safely bear the load, and how many should I use? I attached a diagram, with the black bars as joists and the red bar the 2x4 I'd like to use to span them and hang two pulleys from to hang the kayak.

EDIT: The ceiling is finished with drywall so the joists are not exposed. I would be attaching the 2x4 underneath them rather than above them.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Why not just attach the pulleys to the joists? It's not like you should need to spread the 35 lbs load of each pulley holding half the kayak over multiple joists...
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 22, 2020 at 13:17
  • I don't believe the joists are wide enough to fit the pulley bracket across the width of the joist.
    – nulljack
    Jun 22, 2020 at 14:18

1 Answer 1


Assuming you're putting the 2x4 on TOP of the joists, then the fasteners holding it in place are not supporting any load and just serve to keep it from moving around.

I'd just nail or, preferably, screw it in place with some wood screws.

With a 70# load, you're not going to be approaching any limits structurally with a normally built garage but be sure that your pulleys are well secured and the lines are not able to come loose on their own. A 70# kayak landing on a human is likely to cause injury or death.

I would put the 2x4s ABOVE the joists. So that will mean getting into the attic above the finished ceiling. You could attach the 2x4s to the underside but that will be more difficult. I'd recommend a through bolt (such as a carriage bolt) with washers and nuts. Something like a 1/2" or 7/16" size. If you use a screw, I'd use something substantial like:

Structural Screws

Be sure they are long enough to pass through your 2x4, through the drywall and well into the joists.

  • 1
    To confirm this, I hung a 4x8 sheet of plywood with a 1x2 edge and 2x4 legs from the truss-built ceiling of my garage 25+ years ago. I put 2 pulleys in one truss and 2 in another, then yoinked it up with some rope. There has been no appreciable sag in the bottom chord of the trusses in that time. There's also been a rather large load of "stuff" stored above. I will note, that even with a homemade block & tackle on the wall (pulley top, bottom, top) getting that sucker up was more than a bit of a challenge! Could be poor alignment of the pulleys...
    – FreeMan
    Jun 22, 2020 at 12:40
  • To finish the thought... I used the plywood for a simple train layout for the kids. I suspended it so we could still park cars in the garage. For safety, I added eye-bolts to the top of the plywood and to the rafters and put turnbuckles between these pairs of eye-bolts so the weight wasn't on the rope except during the lift/lowering.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 22, 2020 at 13:02
  • If you (the OP) do decide to attach the 2x4's to the underside of the joists, use a structural fastener (Grek, Simpson, others...), and not the black drywall hanging type screws.
    – SteveSh
    Jun 22, 2020 at 13:54
  • I'll edit the question -- the ceiling is finished and there is drywall in between, so I would be attaching the 2x4 underneath the joist and driving the fastener through the drywall.
    – nulljack
    Jun 22, 2020 at 14:19

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