How to build storage shelves in a shed with 2×4 and plywood
It’s amazing how many items you can collect in your shed or garage over time. And of course, they’re all useful and needed but the chaos makes you nervous.
So how do you organize everything so you can see what you have and access them easily?
Build your own storage shelves!
I have an easy way to build storage shelves for either the garage, shed, or maybe a storage room. And all you need are some 2×4’s, plywood, screws, and some tools.
SIDE NOTE: Want to see how we build this shed, start at creating a shed plan.
SIDE NOTE: I decided to build these shelves by attaching them directly to the wall, so these cannot be moved after they are built.
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HOW TO BUILD STORAGE SHELVES
- Kreg Jig (we use the K5)
- miter saw
- circular saw
- clamps (an extra pair of hands)
- right angle attachment (helps attach screws in tight spaces)
- safety glasses
- face mask (for dust)
- ear protection
CREATE THE SKETCH/BLUEPRINT
The first thing you need to do is to create the sketch (aka: the plan). Things to consider:
- How high do you want the top shelf?
- How wide will your shelves be?
- How many shelves? And the amount of space in between?
These questions will help you create your idea sketch. I always start any project with an idea sketch, which is the basic plan of your DIY/Build. Then, you create the actual sketch/blueprint with all the cut measurements (the detailed plan).
Things to note when creating this detailed sketch:
- You need a leg brace at least every 8 ft. This brace will go from the floor to the top shelf.
- Each shelf needs at least 3 braces for an 8 ft span (2 sides and a middle). I used 4 braces for my 8 ft shelf.
- Here’s an example of my detailed sketch.
- The 4″ side of the 2×4 will sit against the wall.
- Plywood comes in 8ft and every end of the plywood needs to be braced. So, if your shelf is 10 ft, you will need a brace, centered at 8 ft to hold the 8 ft plus the extra 2 ft. Or, you can place two 2×4 braces together and have each plywood piece sit on a different 2×4 (this is what I did for the “L” of my shelf).
Once you create the sketch, it’s time to buy your supplies (because now you know how much wood you need).
TIP: Remember 2×4’s are not actually 2″ x 4″ – they are 1.5″x3.5″, funny I know!
BUILD THE FRAME
The first boards that need to be cut and placed are the ones against the wall.
Before placing each board, measure and mark where each board will sit. Ours was 24.5″ for the first shelf and 49.75″ for the second because of the plywood (24.5″ from the floor for first shelf + .75″ plywood + 24.5″ = 49.75″ for the top shelf).
We decided to have our shelves the length of the inside of the shed, which is slightly shorter than 10 ft. We cut a 10 ft board to fit inside and attached the board using 2.5″ screws (pre-drilling the holes first) to each wall stud.
SIDE NOTE: You do not need to attach to every stud but at least every other.
TIP: Use a level when attaching the boards!
Next are the braces that help support the plywood.
Cut the 2×4 brace to the sizes needed (width of the shelf subtract 3″). Then, create 2 pockets, using the Kreg Jig, on both ends of the board (there will be 4 per board). This is how you will attach the brace to the board on the wall plus the front board.
Once they all have pockets, attach them using 2.5″ screws to the 2×4 board previously installed.
TIP: You want the braces spaced correctly, so mark the wall 2×4 for where each brace will be placed.
Now, take the last 2×4 for the frame of the shelf and mark where each brace will sit on the board. Then, using clamps to hold the board level, attach the 2×4 using the brace pockets with some 2.5″ screws.
SIDE NOTE: I decided to attach one 2.5″ screw through the front 2×4 to the braces, just to make it even stronger (pre-drilling a hole first!).
Continue this process for each shelf – I would recommend starting with the bottom shelf first!
ADD THE PLYWOOD
Once the frame is built for each shelf, it’s time to add the plywood. The easiest way to do this is measure the width of the frame. Then, using the circular saw attached to the Rip-cut, cut that width from the plywood.
Now, measure the length of the frame. Remember each of the plywood pieces needs to sit on a 2×4. Cut the plywood to the measurement (you should have an idea of this from your plan).
Next, test the fit of the plywood on the frame and adjust if needed.
TIP: If you need multiple plywood pieces, test all of them first before adjusting anything.
Once the plywood fits flush on the frame, attach it to the frame. You do this by pre-drilling a 1/8″ hole and using the 1.25″ screws. Place as many as you need for each plywood piece but I would recommend at least 6 (4 for each corner and 2 for the middle of the frame).
ADD THE LEGS
After all the plywood is attached, it’s time to add the legs to help with support.
Like I stated before, you need a leg at each end but also every 8 ft. Take a tape measure and measure the floor to the top shelf at each place you need a leg. Cut a 2×4 at this measurement.
TIP: You could have different measurements and that’s fine! Cut whatever measurement you have and place it in that specific location.
Check to make sure the fit is good on the leg and does not pass the top shelf. Adjust if you need to. Then, attach the leg to each shelf using 2.5″ screws and making sure to pre-drill a 1/8″ first.
TIP: Be mindful of where other screws are already placed and use a level if needed.
Add each leg this way until they are all connected. (We only have 2 legs on our shelves!)
BUILD A FLOATING SHELF (AKA: NO LEGS)
Sometimes, you may need a shelf or shelves that have no legs because something will be stored under that shelf. We needed this configuration because we were placing a lawn mower under one shelf.
So, here is how to do that:
Build the frame of the shelf like the tutorial above but before adding the plywood, you need to add an angled wall brace. This brace will connect to both the shelf frame and the wall stud at an angle.
TIP: The shelf needs to end on a stud to attach this brace.
The way I did this was to take a 2×4 and place it at the angle I wanted (it will be on the inside of the frame). Then, I traced where the wall stud crossed the 2×4 – this will be my angle cut for the wall.
Next, I cut the board at this mark. Then, I took the board back to the frame and placed it again where I wanted it. This time, I made sure the wall cut was flush. Once it was placed correctly, I traced where the 2×4 passed the shelf frame (where the plywood should be). This is my second cut for this brace.
Once the board was cut to that measurement, I checked the fit and adjusted if needed. Then, I attached the 2×4 to the shelf frame and the wall stud, using 2.5″ screws but pre-drilling a 1/8″ hole first.
TIP: Secure the board from the 2×4 to the frame/stud and use a clamp to help hold the 2×4 brace in place.
Do this for any other braces you need for that shelf (you can also copy this first brace before attaching). Then, add the plywood like I explained before.
BECAUSE I like watching videos of how to do something, I have created a video on the process of building storage shelves.
And that’s how to build a storage shelf for a shed or garage. Hope this helps you organize your belongings – maybe you’ll find that you have even more room now!
Great post. I keep thinking about building some shelves for my garage but have been putting it off. Your post makes it look easy to maybe I’ll finally go do it :)
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