I’m in a never-ending battle with basement and garage storage. I hate clutter and stuff lying around on the floor. You know the drill, a place for everything and everything in its place? Yeah, that’s me. But it’s been so hard to get that going in my basement… UNTIL NOW! Meet my DIY 2×4 shelving.

DIY 2x4 shelving

We have been in big need of some DIY 2×4 shelving. We got into the bad habit of the old “dump and forget”. You know the drill… “Where should we put this? I don’t know, put it in the basement.”.

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“Putting stuff in the basement” is especially bad when it comes to my tools, parts, nails, screws, accessories, and all that. Mostly because they’re getting splayed out all over the floor. That means each trip to the basement is like walking through an obstacle course trying to find supplies to do a project. Which REALLY sucks when you’re trying to navigate the obstacle course carrying a pancake compressor, nail gun, and shop vac. Trip to the ER, anyone?

DIY 2×4 shelving to the rescue.

My first step in organizing is always getting everything up off the floor and onto shelves. The shelves might get cluttered, at least it’s all up off the floor and things can begin to find their place, and get categorized.

Can’t you just BUY shelves? YES, and I already did, I wrote a post about heavy duty shelving units in another organizing post. It’s way more cost-effective to make your own. A 48”x24”x72” unit could run about $80 whereas the lumber to build something TWICE that big is about the same (and takes about the same amount of time to assemble).

What you need:

  • 13 8-foot 2×4s (I get 14 or 15 in case something goes awry)
  • 2 4×8 sheets of 23/32 OSB subfloor (because it’s cheap, but you can use plywood)
  • Big box of 3-inch long screws (preferable NOT drywall screws but they’ll prob be ok and cost a bit less)
  • Saw (something that will cut 2x4s and OSB)


Step 1: Measure and cut

OSB: Cut your 2 sheets of OSB in half lengthwise so you end up with 4- 2×8 shelves. I had the Lowe’s guy cut the OSB underlayment for several reasons.

  1. I can slide it right into the back of my jeep instead of strapping full sheets onto the roof.
  2. It’s easier to manage carrying half sheets into the basement.
  3. Less sawdust mess in the basement.

2x4s: Corner posts: Cut four 2x4s down to 6-feet.
End Pieces: Cut one 2×4 into four 21-inch pieces. Use the four 2-foot pieces from the corner post cuts to make the other 4 21-inch end pieces.

Now you’ll have 8 full 2x4s, 4 6-foot 2x4s, and 8 21-inch 2x4s.

Step 2: Pre-drill and pre-screw

I made a drilling template to idiot-proof my drilling. I made one for the end pieces and one for attaching the long 2x4s to the end pieces to make the skeleton. Now I can drill and screw without thinking. As for pre-screwing, I got all my screws ready to go on the workbench so I could slap the boards into place and screw away.

DIY 2x4 shelving Drilling Template

DIY 2x4 shelving predrilled screws

lowes_basementshelves_02Step 3: Assemble

Since I got everything ready to go ahead of time, assembly is easy. Lay your 4 corner posts on the ground together and mark where the bottom of your 2×4 shelf supports will fit across all 4. I used scrap 2x4s (see right) to layout my sample shelf heights and marked from those, but you can use tape measures and all that if you have exact heights in mind.

Attach your end brackets to the corner posts. Remember, they need to be 21-inches so when your side brackets go on the total width will be 24-inches to fit your shelves.

DIY 2x4 shelving partial assembly

Tricky part. FIRST, decide whether your end brackets will be toward the inside of the shelves or toward the outside of the shelves. If they are INSIDE you’ll eventually have to cut a couple of inches off the OSB shelf pieces to slide in (makes it a LITTLE easier to assemble). If you put them on the OUTSIDE (like I did) you’ll have to notch the OSB shelves to fit in.

Stand your end pieces on their side about 8-feet apart and put what will be your top shelf support across the end pieces so you can get them the right distance apart. Now put your bottom shelf support across to get the bottom about the right distance apart. Attach the top and bottom side supports and then do the middle two. It’ll square itself up or be pretty close so don’t sweat it.

DIY 2x4 shelving partial assembly

DIY 2x4 shelving drilling template

After measuring and notching your OSB you’ll need a partner, geometry, and blood, sweat, and tears to get the shelves in but THEY WILL GO. To make it a little easier make sure to cut your notches a little larger than needed to give you some leeway when putting the shelves in. To make it even easier cut the shelves in half and put them in left and right, you know? If you cut them in half you may want to add a support under the splice, but you’ll have to judge that if there’s a lot of sag.

DIY 2x4 shelving assembly

DIY 2x4 shelving assembly

Step 4: Marvel at your handiness

DIY 2x4 shelving finished

After picking out all the splinters you’ll get from handling OSB without gloves on you’ll be very pleased with yourself. Call your significant other to the basement and say, “Hon, look what I built”. You’ll expect it to be like a Lowe’s commercial where you stand back, cross your arms and admire your work together. Instead, they’ll say, “Yeah, I know, I was just down here 5 minutes ago helping you wrestle those stupid shelves into place that you notched out instead of just letting them slide in like they mentioned being the easier way under step 3.” It’s OK though, we’re proud of you.

Finish off your shelves with some glitter, hot glue, and jewels. Now stencil an inspirational saying like “LOVE LIKE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN HURT” somewhere and you’ll be done. Just kidding, please don’t do any of that.

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Here’s the final shelf with MY measurements, remember you can do what you want.

DIY 2x4 shelving measurements



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