Monday, August 5, 2013

DIY Heavy-Duty Shelving Plans!

Are you struggling to gain more storage room? Have you thought abouit building shelves, but the project seems a bit beyond your personal ability to construct them correctly? Hopefully this DIY blog will help you gain more storage space! 

Our basement was a wreck ever since we moved in, and we were never been able to do much with everything besides just pile it up and move the piles around down there. We finally decided we needed some shelving to get a bunch of the junk up off of the floor. (we also needed to throw some stuff away!)

We had a pile of 3/4" plywood and a pile of 2x4's that were about 3' long that a good friend gave to us a while back. We've been using them for odds and end projects around the yard and barn, but were hardly putting a dent in both piles.

So, we figured out that we could use these materials we already had plus just buy a few 8' 2x4's and have a nice set of high shelves. So, we made a quick trip to Lowes and bought the 2x4's.

All the materials you need for one set of 8' wide x 8' tall shelves are:
Two sheets of 1/2" or 3/4" plywood
8 qty 2x4's that are 8' long
16 qty 2x4's that are 31" long (or 8 qty 2x4" x 6' boards)
a bunch of heavy nails, I think the ones we used are "16" nails
coarse thread drywall screws 2-3" long
circular saw, tape measure, marker, square, hammer & drill/screwdriver


To get started, you need to mark and cut all of your wood. 8 of the 8' 2x4s do not need to be cut (they will be your verticals), but they all need to be marked at exactly the same spots for where you'd like your shelves to rest. We made some shelves that were 24" apart and some that were 18" apart, and we did not put the top-most shelf all the way at the top of the shelf.

If you have higher than 8' ceilings, I would recommend just spacing your shelves 24" apart and letting the floor be the bottom shelf. (so you'd have 5 total shelves in the unit)

Next, you need to cut your plywood down for use as the shelves. Since they come in 48x96" sheets, all you have to do is cut them in half lengthwise. Ending up with 4 total 24"x96" sheets. We put a mark at each end and held up one of the straighter 2x4's and traced down it for a "straight" cut.

Then, it's time to cut the cross-boards. If your shelves are 24" wide, then add the width of the two boards (3.5" each x 2 = 7") to come up with 31" total length each. This can be time consuming if you're making a few sets of these shelves.


Now, it's time to make some "ladders". Take your smaller cut 2x4's and place them on top of your 8' 2x4's where you marked them all earlier. Nail them in place; make sure they are all nailed squarely! We stacked them all up when we nailed them to be sure that they were all in the same places on the boards. We used 3 nails at each junction to make sure that everything was triangulated and boards did not shift. The nails we used were a bit too long, so we had to pry the boards back apart, and then bend the ends of the nails over for safety.

Now, you have all of the basic parts to make your shelves! Plus, you know how to make homemade ladders now.


We made one shelf that was 8' long and one that was 4' long, as we had a 12' long area we wanted the shelf to span (between the wall and an I-beam support post). The 4' long one was MUCH easier than the 8' shelf, however, it was nowhere near as sturdy free-standing.

Put the ends of the shelves flush with the edges of the 2x4 posts, screw the very bottom one in, and then screw the very top one in, making sure everything is flush. If it is - the center ones will be a piece of cake and the 2x4's are already tweaked to where they are as straight as possible. I put 4 screws in the end of each shelf into the cross beam 2x4.

Then, it was time to start the 2nd shelf. Since they are sitting next to each other, we screwed the end of the 2nd shelf into the end of the 1st one. That made it easier to work with and also made them sturdier.

After that, I slid the two center pieces down next to the one end; this made getting the other board in much easier, especially since I couldn't slide them in the end with the support jack in my way.

Then, just screw you other boards in on both ends of the shelves, leave the middle shelf supports at the one end until your ends are all in there securely.

Getting some of them in there was a trick, I would not recommend spacing your shelves closer than 18" apart with 24" wide boards.

Now, you need to mark where you want your center supports to hit at on your 8' widths. You may want to measure your totes or boxes if you plan on putting them on these shelves, that could help you get better space usage out of the shelves.

Screw those supports in and you're done! I would recommend securing this shelf to something solid, especially if you have kids that may possibly climb on these and or pull them over, or you plan on storingf HEAVY items on them. I braced them around the ceiling I-beams in my basement. These shelves hold a LOT!!!

1 comment:

  1. Great walkthrough. People underestimate how hard it is to put together a shelving unit, especially one that will store enough food for what's coming down the line... and soon.

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