Cheap and Easy DIY Garage Shelves | Building Plans

Monday, January 20, 2020 -

*This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. I have been compensated for my time and provided with product or payment in exchange. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

I've shared with you guys a few times that we are building a custom house this year. I'll spare you all the drama, but it has taken us WAY longer to get started than we thought it would. We sold our home back in May of 2019 and have been in a rental ever since. The lease is up on the rental and we are now getting ready to move into my in-law's guest house during construction. In the meantime, we have struggled to find a place to store all of our crap. My in-laws cleared an area for us in their RV garage, but to make the most of the space I wanted to go vertical. It's time to build some cheap and easy DIY wood shelves. 


This is a great project to start with if you don't have a lot of building experience. You only need two tools! A drill and a small circular saw. Heck, you could probably even make your cuts with a handsaw (maybe if you had arms like Popeye's). These shelves could be easily built in 2 hours by a single person. This shelving unit is also stronger, larger, and cheaper than most off-the-shelf  systems you can buy at the store. Each set of shelves cost just under $50 in materials, including glue and screws (in the area where I live). 


Materials List:


  • (1) 48" x 96" x 1/2" plywood, MDF or particle board
  • (9) 2 x 4 x 96" boards






Cut List:


  • (8) 2 x 4 @ 48"
  • (8) 2 x 4 @ 21"
  • (4) 2 x 4 @ 75"


1. Cut Materials to Size

This is project where you can cut all your material before you start building. Using a circular saw or miter saw, cut the nine 2 x 4 boards to length.

*TIP: When making cuts using a saw with a standard 1/8" thick blade, a small portion of the wood is removed (a kerf). If you cut a 96" long board, technically you will have two 47-15/16" lengths, not 48". This won't effect the building process, but keep in mind the final dimensions will be slightly different. 


Use a circular saw or table saw to cut a 48" x 96" x 1/2" sheet of plywood or MDF into four equal, 24" x 48" panels.

*TIP: As mentioned above, the kerf of the the blade will result in panels very slightly smaller than shown on the diagram below. Additionally, unloading and moving a full sized sheet of plywood can be challenging to do by yourself. If possible, I recommend having your sheet good cut down into manageable sizes at the store where you purchase it. 



2. Build 4 Shelf Assemblies 

 Place 2 x 4 x 21" frame sides between 2 x 4 x 48" long sides. Using a 1/8" drill bit, pre-drill from the outside face of the long sides, into the ends of the short sides (If you use self-tapping screws, you may not need to pre-drill).


 Secure the pieces together using glue and 3" screws driven 


Place a 1/2" x 24" x 48" plywood shelf top on the top of the frame. 


Secure in place using glue and 1-1/4" screws driven from the top of the plywood, down into the 2 x 4 frame.



3. Attach Shelves to Legs

Lay a pair of 2 x 4 x 75" legs face down on your work surface. Place four shelf assemblies on top, allowing for your desired spacing. Secure using glue and 3" screws driven from the inside of the shelf frames.


 * TIP: I found spacing two shelves 20" apart and one shelf 16" apart a good option to accommodate multiple sized items.


Align a second pair of legs on the top edge of the shelves, flush to the outside edges. Secure in place using glue and 3" screws.



4. Move Shelf into Place

Find a friend to help you move the shelf into place. If your legs vary in length, you might want to add self-leveling feet or shims to prevent the shelf from wobbling. 


These things are STURDY! I built a set of shelves exactly like this 7 years ago and they are still going strong. Although you may need to grab a ladder to reach it, the extra shelf on the top is perfect for items you won't need to access everyday.

Speaking of ladders, I've been using the 5-in-1 Multi-Position Pro Ladder with Powerlite Rails from Werner and it's pretty dang awesome.


I have moved extension ladders in the past, so I was a little scared when UPS dropped it off on my driveway and took off. I was honestly worried it would be so heavy I'd have trouble moving it around myself. To my absolute shock, although the 5-in-1 Multi-Position Pro Ladder is 26' long and beefy enough to hold 375 lbs, the whole ladder itself weighs less than 50 lbs thanks to it's powerlight rail system.

And as I mentioned, it's a 5-in-1 ladder, which means it can transform from an extension to a step ladder, then into a scaffolding base. I have a feeling this thing will see a lot of use once we start building our new house later this month.


A major benefit of using wood shelves instead of metal or plastic (besides the cost) is the fact that you can modify them so easily. For example, with a nail, hammer, and 10 seconds I can create vertical storage for oddly shaped items like cords and hand tools.


Ready to get the junk organized in your garage or work space? Spend a couple hours building some wood DIY garage shelves and you'll be grateful for years! Feel free to pin the image below to save the idea for later. 

How to build cheap and easy DIY wood garage storage shelves with only 2 tools in 2 hours


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