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Project Guide

DIY Garage Shelves

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Gather Tools and Materials
gather the tools and materials

Before you begin, gather the following tools and materials:

Mark the Locations of the Top Plates on the Ceiling
Illustration of a man drilling top plates into the ceiling.
  • One plate should be flush against the wall and the other should be parallel to it with its front edge 24 inches from the wall.
  • Cut the 2- x 4-inch top plates to the full length of the shelves, then attach to the ceiling joists using 3-inch screws.
Mark Points Directly Beneath The Outside Corners
Illustration of a man using a plumb bob to measure and mark the floor.
  • Using a plumb bob as a guide, mark the points directly beneath the outside corners of the top plates to find the outer sole plate locations. 
  • Mark the sole plate locations by drawing lines perpendicular to the wall, connecting each pair of points.
Cut Outer 2- x 4-inch Sole Plates
Illustration of someone drilling into wooden sole plate beams.
  • Measure and cut the sole plates to their desired lengths and align on top of the lines you just drew.
  • Drill the sole plates into the ground for additional support.

Tip: Learn how to drill into concrete with this handy guide.

Prepare The Shelf Risers
Illustration of someone cutting lumber into shelving risers.
  • Prepare the shelf risers by cutting 7/8-inch wide dado grooves with a router. Cut dadoes every 4 inches along the inside face of each 2- x 4-inch riser with the top and bottom dadoes about 12 inches from the ends. 
  • Gang-cut the risers by laying them flat, clamping them together and attaching a straightedge guide to align your dado cuts. 
  • For each cut, make several passes with the router, gradually extending the bit depth until the dadoes are ¾-inch deep.
Trim The Shelf Risers
Illustration of someone trimming shelf risers using a circular saw.
  • Using a circular saw and a straightedge guide, trim the shelf risers to a uniform length before unclamping them.
Build Two Center and Four End Shelf Supports
build the four end shelf supports
  • Build two center supports by positioning pairs of shelf risers back-to-back.
  • Joining them with wood glue and 2 ½-inch screws.
  • Build four end shelf supports by positioning the back of the dadoes shelf riser against a 2 -x 4-inch board of the same length.
  • Join them with glue and 2 ½-inch screws.
Position End Shelf Supports
Illustration of someone drilling end shelves into sole plates.
  • Position an end shelf support at each corner of the shelving unit between the top and sole plates. 
  • Attach the supports by driving 3-inch screws at an angle into the top plates and sole plates.
Position Center Shelf Supports
Illustration of a man drilling center shelf supports into place.
  • Position a center shelf support, one with both faces dadoed, at each end of the center sole plate, then anchor the shelf supports to the sole plate using 3-inch screws driven at an angle. 
  • Use a framing square to align the center shelf supports perpendicular to the top plates. Then, screw them to the top plates.
Cut Plywood Shelves to Fit
Illustration of a man slipping shelves into wooden frames.
  • Measure the distance between the facing dado grooves, subtract ¼-inch, and then cut plywood shelves to fit. 
  • Slide the shelves into grooves.

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