Homelife Homestead DIY — 04 December 2012

Shelves are essential for an organized storage space.  One option is to use store bought shelving, and another option is to build it yourself.

I have a little shop area in my garage that I had all my tools in.  As part of my first project for 2013 food storage, I decided to move all the tools out of the shop and use the room for food/supply storage.  In order to move the tools out, I needed to have some more storage area somewhere else.  I decided to build shelves in the garage.  I think this project turned out really well, and I’m glad that I chose to build the shelves instead of buying more costly less permanent shelving.

Here are the general steps I took:

Measure total height of the wall

I took out a measuring tape and measured from the floor to the top of the ceiling.  It makes it a bit easier with two people.  It is a little difficult to get the tape measure perfectly plumb.  Try moving the tape back and forth and from side to side…the shortest distance means your are straight up and down.

Determine the size of your shelves

Thinking about what items you need to store on the shelves may help you decide how tall the space between shelves needs to be.  I liked the idea of keeping all the space even between the shelves, but this can be tailored to what you need.  It may be a good idea to keep the bottom shelves taller (for bigger heavier items) on the lower shelves.

If the total distance from floor to ceiling was 95-inches, you could have the following configuration for example:

  • 5 shelves spaced at 19-inches
  • 1 shelf at 25-inches and 4 at 18-inches
  • 4 shelves spaced at 23-3/4 inches

Make a plan of how deep the shelves will be.  You may also want to think about the size of wood that you will be buying at the lumber store.  A standard OSB board is 4’x8′.  So if you cut it in half, you would have 16 feet of shelving that would be 2′ deep.

Make wall cleats

Use a stud finder to find the wood studs in your wall.  Secure a 2″x3″ beam to the wall and the stud with a screw. I used a 3″ drywall screw for this.  Resting a level on the beam will help make the shelves even.

Assemble Shelves

The next step I took was to cut 2″x2″ (really 1.5″ x 1.5″) boards around the perimeter of the shelves.  This gives a little more support to the shelf and will allow you to attach the column support beams in the last step.  I left the back 1.5″ clear to allow the shelf to sit on top of the cleat.  I used 1-3/8″ drywall nails to secure the boards to the OSB shelves.  The following is a picture of the “bottom side” of the completed shelf.

Hang shelves

Now the assembled shelf can be placed on top of the cleats.  The following picture shows the shelves as they magically cantilevered shelves.

Of coarse they will need to be supported with a column on the opposite side of the cleat.  I used a 2″x2″ beams for the support columns.  Notice that it extends from the floor to the top shelf.  No need to extend to the ceiling.  I used 2-1/2″ screws to secure the columns to the shelves.  I used 1-3/8″ drywall nails to secure the shelves to the cleats.

Finished product

Now I feel a little more organized.  Did I really just fill up all that shelf space?



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(4) Readers Comments

  1. Ben
    You have inspired us. We plan to set aside time each week to work on a project too. Our first project will be the shelves. Thank you for sharing the steps.

    • Great to hear Susan. I’ve made some slanted shelves for food storage rotation that I would also like to post an article about. There are lots of ways to do these things. Hope this helps, and good luck!

  2. Your shelves look great! My husband built some just like that in our closet for food storage. He just used scraps of wood we had laying around. I love using pallets for stuff like this, too. Free is always nice, lol! Keep up the great work!

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