DIY 2×4 Shelving for Garage or Basement


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.

Freestanding DIY 2x4 shelves plans. Storage shelving for basement, garage, or pantry.

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)

Instructions

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.

Drilling template for freestanding DIY 2x4 shelves. Storage shelving for basement, garage, or pantry.
Predrilled screws for Freestanding DIY 2x4 shelves. Storage shelving for basement, garage, or pantry.

Step 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.

Partial assembly of Freestanding DIY 2x4 shelves. Storage shelving for basement, garage, or pantry.

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.

Partial assembly of Freestanding DIY 2x4 shelves. Storage shelving for basement, garage, or pantry.
Drilling template for Freestanding DIY 2x4 shelves. Storage shelving for basement, garage, or pantry.

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.

Assembly of freestanding DIY 2x4 shelves. Storage shelving for basement, garage, or pantry.

Step 4: Marvel at your handiness

Freestanding DIY 2x4 shelves. Storage shelving for basement, garage, or pantry.

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.


Downloadable Plans

Plans for freestanding DIY 2x4 shelves. Storage shelving for basement, garage, or pantry.


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

Measurements for freestanding DIY 2x4 shelves. Storage shelving for basement, garage, or pantry.

94 Comments

  • Roeshel

    LOL! Glitter and “Love like you’ve never been hurt”! I did read every detail. Our basement needs more than just shelves (step 1. purge) but pinned for future reference.

    ::high five::

    Reply

  • Concretin Nik

    Neurosis APPROVED! The templates, FANFKNTASTIC. And the reminder about taking into account the full shelf thickness, awesome. Little things I KNOW are important, but things that my own neurosis has failed to point out a few times. Which is where the swearing comes in for me.

    Reply

  • herman

    great !! you inspired me to tackle this project over the weekend!!! great article!!!

    Reply

  • Chris

    Going to give this a shot this weekend. If I used a 8′ corner do you guys think it might start to be a little tipsy?

    Reply

    • Pete

      I’m not sure I’m following. If you think it might feel tipsy you can always shim the feet in front so it’s tilting toward the wall a bit. That’s what I did just in case a kid starts climbing. You could also anchor it to the wall but that’s another post.

      Reply

      • Chris

        Thanks Pete, I was thinking about using a full 8′ 2×4 for the 4 corner pieces, but was thinking it then might be too tall for the base since its only 21″ wide. I think its an easy upgrade to do just use 10′ 2×4’s instead of the 8′ in the plans.

      • Pete

        Oh, so the shelf would be 8′ tall. How would you reach the top shelf? I considered making the shelves 10′ long instead of 8′ but the space I had for the first shelf I built was only 9′ across. My next one might be longer, if it flexes in the middle you could always add a mid vertical support in the front and back after the fact.

  • Ed

    Thoughts on building these in a garage with a floor that slopes toward the garage door? Would you build them and trim to level? Shim to make them easier to move later? Screw on some jack-legs? Thanks for the great plans!

    Reply

    • Pete

      I’d build them normally then shim them depending on how much slope there is. I actually have the front legs of mine shimmed to make it lean slightly back toward the wall because my floor slopes slightly.

      Reply

  • Brian

    The top OSB could slide off. How about attaching the top 2×4 about 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch down the 6ft post to allow notches to fit? I’m mostly done building mine, with the top 2x4s at te top. I’m going to take the scrap OSB I notched out and drill through them and the corner posts to accept a dowel segment cut to size and glued in.

    Reply

    • Pete

      I guess I didn’t mention it in the post, but I sank a few screws down through the OSB into the supports on the front corner. It would take a LOT to get that shelf to slide off even without my screws, there’s natural friction and grippiness that holds it up there. Your way would work too, just drop the top supports down the thickness of your top shelf then it’s kind of inset.

      Reply

  • Clay

    Hey Pete! Love the idea but what about shelf supports or even a middle brace? No worrys of it starting to sag overtime? I’ve never worked with OSB before so I don’t know its strength. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    • Pete

      If I saw them sag then I’d probably put 2×3 supports up the middle in the front or back, or add a 3rd 2×4 running length-wise down the center, but I don’t think I could put enough weight on a 15″ high shelf to make it bow unless I was storing a supply of osmium.

      Reply

  • Chuck

    Just wondering, if you cut the end pieces to 21″, and then add 2×4’s onto each side, wouldn’t that total a depth of 25″, or am I missing something? It wouldn’t matter if the 24″ deep OSB came up short by 1/2″ on each side, but just wondered if I’m misunderstanding something here. Thanks!

    Reply

    • Pete

      This is what makes people nuts. 2x4s aren’t actually 2″ x 4″. They’re 1.5″ x 3.5″. Why? Well, the short, kind of accurate version, is that it has to do with the olde tyme days and mills cutting green wood that was actually 2×4 but dried at a smaller dimension. Since then, technology and efficiency allowed the mills to reliably cut lumber to the smaller size, but the names all stayed because they’ve always been called 2x4s (or 2x6s or 2x8s, etc.). And it’s easier to say 2×4 than, “Hey Rocko, hand me another 1 and a half by three and a half.” SO, if you’re still awake, the 21″ piece PLUS the two 1.5″ boards = 24″. I hope that made sense. (2x6s, 2x8s, 2x10s, 2x12s aren’t actual size either).

      Reply

  • Chuck

    Ahh, I was not aware of that. Makes sense! Thanks for the reply. I’ll definitely be slapping one of these together in the next few days.

    Reply

  • Greg

    Great plans. I built yesterday in about 3 hours by myself. I ended up only building with three shelves because I wanted a little more height from the floor to first shelf. This is for garage storage and I wanted to ‘park’ some toddler wheeled toys underneath. The adjustment was easy once I had the end units assembled. I put the end brackets inside and as you said just cut about 4-5 inches off OSB length and they dropped right in- no notching required. I did screw the shelves down just for some added security. Thanks!

    Reply

  • Chris

    Great plans! I built two and put them together in an L for our basement. Being a intermediate DYIer (tackled a lot of projects, but as I tell my wife, I’ll be twice as long as a pro and it won’t be quite as good, but always passable), this one was right up my wheelhouse. A couple of variations, first, I didn’t need the full 8′ in either direction, so I cut the 2″x 4″‘s so that each yielded 75″ high/long and 21″ on the sides. I did the “inside” configuration as I had to cut the shelves anyway. The other difference is I used my pneumatic framing nailer with 2 3/8″ nails which isn’t as pretty, but really fast and easy. Finally, I attached the whole structure to the walls with 3″ deck screws. Thanks for the plans – going to do more in the basement and a bunch in the garage!

    Reply

    • Pete

      Yes, a framing nailer will make quick work of it. I’m always obsessed with making things easy to disassemble “just in case” even though I’ve never disassembled anything I’ve used screws on. Time to go to the shrink I guess and see what that’s all about.

      Reply

  • Chris

    Oh, BTW, Lowes had 2x4x8 on sale and I re-purposed some shelving for one of the units, so the total cost to me today for both was less than $120!

    Reply

  • Chris

    Hi Pete –

    Just reading through previous posts. To Clay’s question, I used the 23/32 OSB and granted, I only ran it 6′, but there is no way that’s going to sag anytime soon. That stuff is pretty rigid. I actually used some of my spare 2x4s to cut bracing, but there was no need at all, so I’m keeping them as side pieces for the next shelf.

    Reply

  • Dave

    Agree, great plans. Built one this weekend with a few variations – pressure treated 2×4 footers (damp basement floor), shelves 3 feet deep, and 2×3 shelf beams. The deeper shelves meant extra plywood and possible sagging so I put cross braces and extra 2×4 vertical posts in the middle – front and back matching the corner posts. Looking back the extra vertical posts might have been overkill but since I had it (and the cross braces) I was able to use 2×3’s for the front shelf supports and 1/2 inch plywood shelves. So to summarize … your plans are excellent, my variations were acceptable but time consuming, and the end result is working shelves!

    Reply

  • Chris

    HI Pete –

    LOL, yes, I am cheap, I mean frugal…I have to be as the Budget Committee around here is tough, anything over $150, and you got to go in front of the Committee where there’s a lot of doubtful stares and piercing questions like, “But, do we really NEED that?”…

    As far as the nails versus screws, I had the same thought initially, but having 600+ nails left over from another project versus $40+ for 10 lbs of screws made this one a no brainer. The funny part was when I was screwing the whole thing together and attaching it to the wall – my wife said, “What about if we need to move it?” I said, “The house will be paid off in two years, so this will be the next owner’s problem ‘cuz I’m not moving it!”

    All kidding aside, finding these plans made it easy to tackle this project and more to come.

    You should have a page where people can upload photos of their shelves…as well as pics of nicked-up hand from handling cut OSB without gloves…

    Reply

  • Chris

    Pete,
    Any idea how much the shelves might weigh fully assembled? In addition I was thinking of adding casters to the bottom to be able to move it around the basement if needed. Thanks!

    Reply

  • DB

    Nice post and plans. Two questions: (1) is that thickness necessary for the shelves? And (2) what are the pros/cons of inside vs outside for the brackets? The plans discuss shelf installation but not much else. Saving the notchj f step seems worth doing the other way but I would be interested to know why you did what you did there. Thanks.

    Reply

    • Pete

      Hi, DB. 1. I don’t think that’s thickness is necessary, but I chose it because that thickness in OSB was pretty cheap compared to thinner plywood. You could probably used 3/8 plywood and still not have it bend, but you might have to add a couple of cross braces on each shelf. 2. I did what I did because I think putting the brackets (2x4s) on the outside gained me like 6 or more extra inches of shelf space and if I lined them up along a wall they would be flush to each other like a continuous shelf instead of having space between them for things to fall down into.

      Reply

  • Mitch

    Thanks for posting and sharing the plans. Built 2 for the basement. If you were going to anchor these into a concrete wall (instead of shimming), how would you do it?

    Reply

    • Pete

      Hmmm. I’d probably secure some plumber strapping (you know, the roll of steel ribbon with holes in it) to the wall with tapcon screws or some kind of anchor bolt and screw the other end into one of the shelves, but then you’d need to go buy plumber strapping tape. You could probably use some kind of seatbelt-type strapping material as well (like backpack straps) but you’d need to make sure you had some good washers to keep it from ripping through.

      Reply

  • Richard Lightner

    I was wondering if there were plans to add doors to these shelves? I have 2 cats that are way too curious and I have numerous hat boxes that I wouldn’t want to hurt them over. lol Also, we have luggage that we want to store without worrying about the same plus all the cat hair.

    Reply

  • Dennis

    I’ll be giving these shelves a shot very soon. Four-bedroom home, three kids – the closet in our little home-office space upstairs is overflowing with motorcycle helmets, jackets, bags, ski equipment, ever-growing mountain biking gear… Time to build a suitable set of shelves in the basement and give the closet some relief. Only alteration I am going to try is to make a clothes hanging bar on one half to hang the jackets, hydration packs, etc. If I figure it correctly, I’ll still retain the bottom shelf on this side and have all four shelves on the other. Wish me luck!

    Reply

  • Kris

    Awesome tutorial.

    I built two of these for our basement storage area. Managed to get everything off the floor, now we can actually freely : )

    I did have a question, your plans were great. What program did you use to create them. My next project is floor to ceiling buildin’s in the owners bedroom closet and I want to create cut sheet and steps.

    Thanks!

    Reply

  • John

    Did you find sagging in the middle over time?

    Reply

  • Chris

    Pete,

    These plans are great! I built 4 sets of these shelves in early 2013 based on Dave Wirth’s blog post.

    A few comments from my experience that others might find useful:

    1. I used 1/2″ nominal OSB for my shelves and did not add any extra supports. After almost 3 years of holding several hundred pounds of items on each shelf, I have still not seen any sagging at all.

    2. I built my shelves at 8-ft height for the vertical posts. They are very stable and are not anchored to the wall in any way. I loaded them with the heaviest items and totes on the bottom shelves and lighter on top, naturally, just in case.

    3. I notched my OSB so that I wouldn’t have gaps between shelving units like you mentioned in one of your posts. I actually installed my shelves as I assembled. It worked, but I think it was probably equally as challenging as installing them after like you did. By far, putting the shelves in is the hardest part of this build.

    4. I used drywall screws for all of my shelves. I know wood screws would be a better choice, but I pre-drilled my holes to avoid splitting the wood. Also, given that each corner has 7 screws, I felt the strength of the drywall screws would be sufficient. So far, I have had zero issues with my fastener choice.

    5. Someone in a post asked about doors on the shelves. The sets I built are all in my basement and none have doors on them. I’m going to be building some in my garage around the holidays and I will be installing sliding “barn door” style doors to cover the shelves. I have the doors planned out on SolidWorks using threaded pipe, straight casters, and eyelets for the hardware.

    6. For anyone wondering about cost, the total price for 1 complete unit (including screws) is about $60-$70 if you buy from Home Depot or Lowe’s.

    Chris

    Reply

    • Pete

      Chris, Geez, dude. Thanks for answering every question in one comment that is more informative and better written than the post itself.

      Reply

  • Dennis

    Pete,

    How can I share a photo or two of my finished shelves? I modified your excellent plan to accommodate a black iron pipe hanging rod on the left half to hang our heavy motorcycle jackets, track pants, etc. Very pleased with the finished product and couldn’t have done it as easily without stumbling across this site.

    Thanks!

    Reply

  • Brad

    I just wanted to say, thanks.

    My 89 year old grandmother’s enormous house was kind of just swimming in junk (6 kids, 30 grandkids who will “come back soon” to pick up their belongings). I started with this template, having never built anything before.

    I have since built ~10 of these in the standard form, and ~20 in various sizes and shapes to accommodate different sized areas. 50 years of clutter sorted and organized.

    She loves it, I love it, and I know how to use a drill and saw now. So we all win. Thanks again.

    Reply

  • Scott

    Thank you! I just built one of these, using the exact measurements in the example above. It is fantastic! I’ve begun an all-out assault of the clutter in the basement and this was my first volley. One comment, for whatever it is worth – the 21 in. pieces kept splitting on me when I used all four screws. So I used three instead and spaced them differently. I appreciate the free plans download, and I will definitely make more.

    Reply

  • Bill

    Hi, I’m planning to build a set of shelves this weeken and luckily cam across this site.
    My question is in regards to the screw pattern.
    Is there any chance of the top screws on the side 2x4s running into the top outside screw of the end 2x4s?
    I was drawing up the template to use and rotated the triangle to have the two screws vertical of each other on the inside of the 2×4 and the solo screw toward the outside.
    Maybe I’m over thinking it a bit but curious.
    Thanks for the great plans.

    Reply

    • Pete

      The screws won’t hit if you use the screw templates in the plan (mine didn’t anyway). The end support 2x4s are 3.5 inches wide so the screws are 1-inch in from all sides. The side support template width is 3 inches so the screws are set at 3/4-inch so they hit the center of each side support. I’m sure rotating the triangle pattern is fine. It’s not like it will greatly impact the strength. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply

  • Jake

    Nice write up Pete, will be building a pair of these soon. I’m with you on using screws “just in case” you have to disassemble — even though you’ve never disassembled something you used screws on. Neither have I, but I have disassembled to old furniture pieces built by my wife’s grandfather to restore them… on one he used screws, and the other he used mostly screws and several nails. I’ve used nothing but screws on my pieces since.

    Thanks again for the post!

    Reply

  • Steve

    I built these shelves to 8′ height, and they are still rock solid, especially after I loaded them bottom-heavy. I’m still going to secure them to a wall.

    Thanks for the great plans!

    Reply

  • M. Jay

    Hey there .. I am so happy that I came across your design. My plan is to build two of these and then a desktop right in the middle of the two making a massive computer gaming area in my basement!!!

    Thanks so much and maybe I can post a picture or two when it’s done :)

    Reply

  • Liam

    HI, I am planning on using your shelving plans as a basic guideline for my eagle scout project shelves, is there any way to orient the end pieces, maybe turning them 90 degrees and screwing into the long boards, to make the shelves slide out relatively easily, by notching the 2×4’s? Thanks.

    Reply

    • Pete

      HI Liam, If you check out Step 3 again you’ll see I mention the option of having the end pieces flipped around so the short horizontal pieces are toward the inside rather than the outside. Then your shelves would slide right in, the shelves would just be an inch or 2 shorter. Then you wouldn’t need to notch anything or do any crazy maneuvering to get the shelves in place. I kind of wish I had done it that way. But that’s why you’re an eagle scout.

      Reply

  • JoeSchmoe

    Thanks Pete for the templates!

    I just built 2 for my basement. I only used 3 shelves per unit due to ceiling height of 7′ and putting 15″ clear height per shelf (19″ total per shelf), so that common 64-66 qt plastic containers would fit right in. Shelves alone will hold 15 to 18 containers per unit – that is a LOT of crap, um, I mean junk ;)

    Plus the open tall top shelf can handle more bulky items or even more… junk stacked on top of the containers.

    I also have some minor concerns over flooding (sump pump) and like the 15″ space between the floor and 1st shelf. I’ll use it for take-it-or-leave-it junk.

    I did use 1/2 OSB and it’s fine. I would have no qualms jumping up and down on this thing. Heck at 15″ clear the two end to end remind me of Navy ship bunks. Maybe I’ll charge $5 a night.

    I put the short side pieces towards the inside, slid the OSB in and tacked the front down with 3 small screws to hold it in place. Placed the two units end to end and screwed them together. It’s very stable even with no attachment to the wall.

    I used 3″ screws but next time I’ll use 2-3/4. If you go into the wood just a little too far the 3″ will stick out the other side. I know, I know, don’t go too far in!

    With my little bit sloppy predrilled holes I only ran two screws into each other, no problem.

    I did have one obstruction on the top back rail on one unit that came out from the wall about 5″. I just cut down that rail to fit snugly inside the side rails and screwed through the side rails into the ends of the back rail, and cut a slot in the OSB.

    Yes, it’s weaker than the other rails BUT these things are so overbuilt one weaker but still solid rail doesn’t bother me in the slightest. And yes, the back of the 1/2 OSB is overhanging without support but only 5-6 inches. Again I think it’s fine.

    Lastly, f you’re working alone and having a hard time holding the 8′ rails in place before getting the 1st screws in, start a screw into the side assembly just below where the long rail will be installed. Then you can rest one end of the long rail on it while screwing in the other.

    Again thanks Pete!

    Reply

  • Kyle

    This may be a dumb question but my wife and I are having twins so I need to organize the basement. We use a lot of totes and they are like 16″ tall. I would I just add 8″ to each post and move each support up 2″?? Thanks in advance

    Reply

  • Ryan

    Couldn’t you put the vertical 2×4’s on the outside and not have to notch the plywood to fit. If I’m picturing it right you could kept the plywood un-notched and just slide it in or I’m I missing something?

    Reply

    • Pete

      Yes, that’s a good option. No, you didn’t miss anything. Wait, yes you did miss something, in part 3 where we talk about deciding whether you want to put the supports on the inside or the outside to avoid cutting notches. That’s why we love you, Ryan. Ya goof.

      Reply

  • Ash

    This is a really good and solid design. I wanted to maximize the available space I had so I increased the depth of the shelves to 3ft. This made me wonder how I would reach things all the way in the back, so I modified the design to include sliding shelves. Its working out great so far. You can see more details in my blog post about it at:

    http://www.justmeasuringup.com/blog/creating-more-garage-storage

    Reply

  • Eric Saunders

    looking to build deeper shelves and wondering can i just do the same setup with the entire 4×8 board of OSB? Any additional support need to be considered? I don’t speak the DIY language and why I found this to be very helpful.

    Reply

    • Pete

      You might just need a couple extra supports under your 4×8 shelves that run from front to back (the 4-ft way) to keep them from sagging.

      Reply

  • steve

    If you move the 4 corner studs to the outside and use 1/4″ x31/2″ lag screws you don’t have to notch the shelves and they’re a lot easier to install

    Reply

  • Shelley

    Hi, thanks for posting. I am going to build shelves around an entire basement room to create a storage room. Is there a reason you put the 2×4 ” legs” on the inside of the shelf framing – causing you to notch out the OSB on the ends to accommodate the legs? I am not a builder, just a girl tired of clutter so I’m gonna give it a go, but ran across a picture of a similar shelf where all the shelf units were built first with the the legs screwed to the outside 4 corners and a brace across the bottom along the wall connecting back legs and another vertical brace running up from that floor brace to the top attaching at every shelf. Is one style more sturdy than the other? This second method seems easier for me to build on my own.

    Reply

    • Pete

      I don’t think either is more sturdy. Do what’s easier for you. When I build more I’ll probably put the supports on the front and back side so the shelves can slide right in from the ends. Does that make sense? like you could assemble the whole front and whole back, like wide ladders, then connect the front and back “ladders” with the short end pieces.

      Reply

  • Chris H.

    These plans were so easy to follow. Built my shelf based on these planes in about 2 hours and the cost with the screws was about $70 at Lowes (Los Angeles market). Will build another for my room next, thanks a lot!

    Reply

  • Scott

    I’d like to build these shelves with the bottom shelf being about 3 feet off the ground so I can store my generator and mower underneath- Do you think the unit will still be sturdy without that low shelf? Thanks for the post!

    Reply

    • Pete

      I think you just have to go for it. I don’t think they’d be wobbly.

      Reply

      • Dennis

        If you need the front open, but are not concerned about the sides or back, you could always run some diagonal bracing (top to opposite bottom on each side, for example). Either additional 2×4 material could work for this or metal strapping. That should give you more piece of mind.

  • Patrick Kuntz

    I built these in about 3 hours. They’re great. Thank you for the plans.

    The secret to getting the notched OSB shelves into the frame is to come in with each OSB piece diagonally and from underneath where it’s going to sit. Do the 2nd from top shelf first (since the top shelf just sits on top and doesn’t need any complicated maneuvering) and work your way down to the bottom shelf. I did this myself, didn’t need to call my wife for help. :-)

    I added some adjustable feet to the bottoms of the legs so I could level the unit on my uneven basement floor.

    NOTE: If you countersink the 3″ screws even a little when you’re building the end pieces, they’ll poke out the other side. I’ll go with 2-3/4″ screws next time, at least for that part of the project.

    Reply

    • Ed Yuen

      I’m looking to building these in the basement and was wondering which what type of adjustable feet levels you added to the bottoms as I have the same issue in my basement.

      Reply

      • Pete

        The easiest solution is wood shims. You could also probably use anything that you could fold up, like cardboard.

  • Rob Nguyen-Nusum

    I just want to take the time and thank you for being one of those countless generous people who provide the world with effective plan for accomplishing the simplest yet most effective projects. My wife gave me the green light for building two of these for the basement And they have literally transformed our basement into a fathomable project of completion. Without the shelving, I would not be able to get boxes tools and the light off the floor in order to realize our dream of finishing the basement this winter. Again many thanks!!! I am in a constant DIYer and this was a fun project. Only with my dad was still around so that we can build these together possibly for habitat for humanity homes.

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  • Chris

    Great plans. Have built two sets now. One 8ft and one 6ft. The 6ft set I planning on putting two 3 foot swinging doors. Any ideas how to do this the most efficient way?

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  • AR

    I also want to thank you. Just finished two of these for my basement, it was the perfect project for my wife and I to tackle this evening, and now we have lots of great storage. Wish we had found this long ago!

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  • Chris

    I just built these and I love them. Thanks for the informative plans that anyone can follow. My only adaptations were:

    1) I used 2x3s rather than 2x4s as I happened to have a bunch lying around. They seem to be sturdy enough, but I will keep an eye on this. I also like the slightly slimmer profile of the supports.

    2) I rotated the triangular screw template (i.e. one screw on the outside and two on the inside) to avoid the screws from the long supports hitting them. Oh, and I needed to make smaller templates for the smaller boards.

    My only major struggle was getting the pilot holes straight as I don’t have a drill press. I thought they were pretty straight as I drilled them, but when I drove the screws in they were all over the place. I eventually started using a small metal corner brace (like this: https://www.lowes.com/pd/National-Hardware-4-Pack-1-in-Zinc-Corner-Braces/1000201727) as a guide by placing the drill bit on the inside corner and that helped somewhat.

    Thanks again, I will be making more of these.

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  • Jack

    Would you recommend any kind of spacer between the wood legs and concrete floor? I’m concerned about attracting termites and Issues with water in my leaky basement. I’ve seen some wooden posts outside with metal collars at the base, but maybe that’s overkill indoors. Thoughts?

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  • Nick

    I have so far built two of these shelves for my garage in the last two weeks, and they are precisely what I needed to manage the clutter. Thank you so much!

    One change in the process I made that helped me assemble it on my own was that I attached all four rear 2x4s first, and then I installed each front 2×4 and OSB sheet one at a time from the bottom up. Still a healthy amount of swearing going on, but it kept me from bashing the corners of the OSB trying to thread them through the built frames.

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  • Robyn

    So the house I bought had all these IKEA garage shelves… as soon as I got them loaded up they fell off the wall! They were screwed directly into the drywall, no anchors, no studs… They were for show apparently. Anyway I am a completely new DIYer and home owner. I am almost done with these shelves! I spent most of yesterday cutting, drilling, measuring, etc. They are beefy! I need to finish notching the plywood and drop it in. I cannot wait. Your instructions and cut-sheet were SO helpful. I did have to buy some extra equipment – torque driver (the drilling nearly burnt up the motor on my driver/drill) and a jigsaw, but I am happy with the results so far!

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  • Josh

    So…after quickly browsing the Internet for some sturdy, quick and dirty 2×4 shelves I landed up here. I quickly printed out the PDF build sheet, hooked my little 4×8 trailer to the car and took off for the local big box store. I already had a few 2×4’s from other projects and ended up buying 10 2x4x8’s and two 4×8’s of 1/2 OSB due to cost and availability. I came home, did all of my cuts and marked out my shelves on the legs and went to town. I spaced out the shelves 13 inches to allow for some bins that I already had. I made sure it accommodated for the thickness of the 2×4 (3 1/2″) plus the layer of OSB (1/2″) in my measurements.

    Below is advise for myself when I’m back here a year from now wondering what I did:

    1) My intention of not installing the shelves until I get the entire piece in place came back to bite me. Either install them as they are built or go with the advise of others to go with a ‘slide-in’ design by shifting the corner supports to the outside.

    2) If already built and you’re frustrated to no end after fighting with the shelves…simply square both ends of the shelves (remove the notch) by cutting the shelf off at both ends, this will eliminate the 3″ x 14″ notched area. Then just add another 21″ end-brace inside of the frame to give something for the shelves to rest on and slide the shelf right in. This used an extra 1.5 of 2x4x8’s and some more screws but it was worth the savings in frustration and disassembly to shift the legs to be on the outside. I also flipped the 3-hole pattern upside down as to not interfere with the screws on the other side of the leg.

    3) The use of the 2 3/4″ screws is a good idea, I already had 3 inchers which did have a tendency to punch through the other side when you anchored them in beyond where the head of the screw was level with the surface of the 2×4.

    4) If I were to do this again I might try to alter the design to have the legs on the outside from the start but honestly it worked out pretty good the way it went. I tell myself that the added shelf supports give strength to the design! I also kept the outside dimensions the same for what it’s worth. My single car garage is 10×20 so it was a tight fit anyway with all of the other clutter laying around.

    I would build again! I did have my father-in-law help move the shelf into place so if on the fence about asking for help I would say go for it as it did speed things up. It helps to build on a level surface, use a tape measure to make sure your angles are square, make sure your corners are flush by using a 7″ speedsquare and use a C-Clamp for that moment you need 3 hands!

    Happy building!

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  • Aaron

    Recently built a garage with separate storage area on one end. Needed some shelves to alleviate chronic tote overload!

    These shelves fit the bill perfectly,

    I modified the plan slightly, making the legs 7 feet high as the storage has a high roof. I also lag bolted the top two shelves to one of the structural metal tubes that make up the framework of the building, and the shelves are very sturdy. I also found it was easier to cut the OSB shelf boards in half to install,

    All in all, a great project, and two units were built this last weekend.

    many thanks for a great article!

    Reply

  • Joe

    I am the least-mechanical person on the face of this Earth but even I think I could do this. I need to build 3 of these to tame our basement.
    :: fingers crossed ::

    Reply

  • Harry

    Nice design, put 90% of this together today including the trip to the timber yard (used second hand OSB as was half the price). I used 60 x 30mm CLS structural timber rather than 2×4 (based in the UK here) as 2×4 was over £5 a length in B&Q ! (uk equivalent of lowes etc). Seems pretty sturdy if there is any sag when I load it up I’ll just whack some extra support in. Nicely done!

    Reply

  • Rich

    Just finished this project. Thanks for the plans. I built is exactly like the plans with one minor change in technique. I built the sides and back leaving the front cross bars off. I attached the bottom front crossbar, then installed the bottom shelf. I then moved to the next one, then installed that shelf. I didn’t have to fight the crossbars placing each shelf. Worked great!!

    Reply

  • Tim

    Just finished mine using your guide as a start but made a few changes. This was for my garage.

    1. Made sides and length 8′ no cutting :)
    2. Flipped ends so cross bars are on inside, cuts out notching.
    3. With sides flipped no need to notch OSB, just cut it off the distance between uprights. :)
    4. Bought 7/16 OSB was cheaper AND put two 2×4 supports Between rails (21″) Added a tremendous amount of rigidity and wont allow plywood to ever bow.
    5. As others said screwed OSB Down.

    BUT, must say my design was totally inspired from this blog. Thank you!

    Reply

  • Tim

    oh yeah, see my post above.

    6. Added a 5th shelf since mine is so tall. Now I have 40′ of storage to line things up in an 8′ space!

    Will be building a second one on the other side along the same wall. Then doing a bridge just at the top with a workbench underneath, so will have one long shelf the distance of the garage!

    Also, i donated and bought the plans. If you run with his system, donate.

    Reply

  • Brian

    great job guys.
    I made my shelves 16″ deep and put my short shelf supports inside my 2×4 uprights so as to avoid notching corners of shelf.
    I also put a 15 degree angle cut on the ends of my long shelf boards to make em look a little more finished.
    btw. I am making these for my teen girls bedroom since they wanted an industrial look, (similar to stores in the mall) ugh pinterest is my nemesis. haha.

    Reply

  • Virginia

    Going to make something like this but with all 2×4 for book shelves in bedroom as son is tired of book shelves not holding his books (about 2000 lbs of them)

    Reply

  • ellis

    Really appreciate you taking the time to put this together. It’s way better than the junk shelving you can buy off Amazon or Walmart and a lot stronger/bigger. The one trick I found was leaving the front side horizontal cross shelve support 2×4’s off while installing the plywood/OBS. Gives you a little room to spread it slightly for an easy fit. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Making 2 more next week!!

    Thanks

    Reply

  • Bela Sziklassy

    Bought a house a year ago almost to the day and had this on the radar for nearlynthat long.

    Finally got around to building one yesterday and an overall happy with it. Unfortunately I lost thenolans so I had to “buy” then again, this time saving to my google drive lol.

    Some comments I had on the build, and somethings I learned:

    1. 3″ screws are just a tad too long. I really mean just a tad as the tips are showing on some of them. You can solve this by just sticking with 2.5″ or not driving the screw in so far (I tend to drive far enough that the head is flush with the wood.

    2. My own mess up but I flips the legs such that the 21″ 2×4’s were inward and not outward. This made notching more of a chore, but I noticed at the end so it was less work rethinking the notches.

    3. I hadn’t seen it mentioned that you can easily unscrew things to make shelves even easier to place. I unscrewed the 8′ piece directly above the shelf I was placing. This made it much easier to drop the shelf in place and then screw everything back. You can even remove one of the 21″ pieces on the same level to make it effortless.

    4. It could be that pricing has changed since this was written, but I found the costs to be about on par with something store bought, the difference being you can’t easily find 8′ wide shelves; typically you’re stuck with 6′. In that sense it’s cheaper because you have more storage space. I purchased everything at Home Depot and ended up between $90-$100 per shelf.

    5. One five pound box of screws is enough for three to four units depending on how many screws you put into each shelf, and how many shelves you decide on. I only screwed down my top shelf (6 screws) since it was the only shelf nwith any danger of movement, and I am only doing three shelves per unit. I will be anchoring these to the studs in the wall after I have built as many as I want for the room and situated them in their permanent configuration.

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  • Bruce E. Hiner

    Do you have any idea how much weight these shelves would safely hold? Is there a calculator somewhere that will allow me to put in length and depth of each section and tell me its capacity?

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  • Bill

    Many thanks for taking the time to write these plans up with such detail, including the pictures, notes on the pictures, pre-drilling the holes and setting screws, and the template tips. I made two shelves, one 11 feet wide, and included another five foot shelf at 90 degrees on the adjacent wall. I just used the same design on the shorter span and tied in the front supports to the longer shelf. I did anchor the shelves to the wall. The project came together perfectly, and I was able to complete it over a weekend – work interrupted by the wife’s other to-do lists and playing football with the boys….. Thanks again – great work on your part.

    Reply

  • Torm Hustvet

    Can’t recommend these plans enough. About to build shelves 2 and 3 after putting together my first one a couple years ago. Great plans and easy instructions. Pre-Drill templates are fantastic!

    Reply

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