Over 1 day
Manufactured shelving usually doesn’t offer spacing flexibility and easy reconfiguration. Consider building your own utility shelves to fit the exact space you have available. Since you'll anchor it to the ceiling joists and the floor, it'll be sturdier under a heavy load than most freestanding garage shelves. You can also dress it up with the simple addition of side panels and stock trim molding on the face frame.
This project guide explains how to build utility shelves in your garage, including how to anchor them into the studs behind the wall and into the floor for extra support.
Cut the Top and Sole Plates
- Cut the 2 x 4 top plates to the full length of the shelves, and then attach them to the ceiling joists using 3-inch screws.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use a router to cut the 2 x 4 sole plates according to your markings.
Prepare and Trim the Shelf 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 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 3/4-inch deep.
- Using a circular saw and a straightedge guide, trim the shelf risers to a uniform length before unclamping them.
Build the Supports
- Build two center supports by positioning pairs of shelf risers back-to-back and joining them with wood glue and two 1/2-inch screws.
- Build four end shelf supports by positioning the back of the dadoes shelf riser against a 2 x 4 of the same length and joining them with glue and two 1/2-inch screws.
Position the Supports
- 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 a center-shelf support, one with both faces dadoed, at each end of the center sole plate, and 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.
- Screw them to the top plates.
Cut Plywood Shelves to Fit
- Measure the distance between the facing dado grooves and subtract 1/4 inch.
- Cut plywood shelves to fit. Slide the shelves into grooves.