Build your own garage shelf for under $30.

A garage without storage is a pitiful thing. It gets cluttered, messy, and soon, it becomes impassible. Ive been looking for cheap storage options for my garage, but havent had much luck finding anything (I even googled how to build garage shelving instructions, but didnt readily find anything suitable). Home depot sells storage racks for way more than I would have paid for them…$60 for a 36″ x 18″ 72″ resin flimsy storage rack, and target sells a smaller wire rack for about $40. These didnt seem like suitable options, so I decided to save some cash take the DIY route, and make my own heavy duty storage rack instead.

I wanted my rack/garage shelf to fit the space in my garage just so, so I measured and calculated the figures. I would need ten 2′ x 4′ x 8′ studs to make a rack that was 70″ x 19″ x 72.” I ran to the nearest Home Depot and purchased the studs, and came across some small metal casters…little wheel attachments to make my shelf mobile. These were about $3 each. The total came out to be just shy of $30, and that was fine with me considering I would be saving a lot more if I wanted to buy a heavy duty shelf of this size.

1. First item on the list was to cut the four legs of the shelf to six feet tall.

Rack legs

Rack legs

2. Next I cut the shelf supports (the crossbeams) for which I needed six. These needed to be 66.5″ as the legs of the shelf would add 2.5″ to the width.

Cross Beams to support the shelving

Cross Beams to support the shelving

3. After, I cut the short links which would connect the front and rear portions of the rack. I wanted my shelf depth to be 19″ so I cut these to 16.5″.

Links for front and back of rack

Links for front and back of rack

4. After all the cutting was done, I needed to drill the holes to where I wanted my shelving located. I drilled 4 holes, with two holes alloted for the crossbeam, and two for the links. I made three sets of the four holes on each of the legs of the rack. One set for the top, middle, and bottom shelf.

Pilot holes for screws which would hold the crossbeam and links

Pilot holes for screws which would hold the crossbeam and links

5. Now for the assembly. I assmbled both the front and rear of the racks first, by laying them on the floor and screwing in the crossbeams. I then attached on the front of the rack the links so I could attach the rear portion of the rack to the front portion after. I installed the casters after this was all done.

Front and rear rack faces attached with links

Front and rear rack faces attached with links

6. The joints of the rack look like this:

Side view

Bottom view

Bottom view

7. Next comes the shelving platform. I didnt buy any plywood or material to use for the shelving. Instead I scrounged around my wood shed and found some 1/4″ board of sorts, and some old pieces of 5/8″ plywood. I had to cut pretty creatively to utilize all the board and cover the shelf platforms.

1/4" board for the upper shelves (where lighter things will be placed)

1/4″ board for the upper shelves (where lighter things will be placed)

5/8" platform (where heavy things will be placed)

5/8″ plywood (where heavy things will be placed)

8. After finishing my rack, I noticed that I had enough space to add another shelf. I added this one above the middle shelf, and found some messed up 2 x 4’s in the wood shed. They were not in the best shape, but would work for this application. I installed these sideways as the shelf was not going to hold a lot of weight, and would allow more clearance for putting things on the middle shelf.

With extra shelf added.

With extra shelf added.

The shelf took a few hours to build, but the satisfaction of making something and saving money (although with the time trade-off) is to me, definitely worth it. an added bonus are the casters which make my shelf mobile. After piling on the clutter in the garage, it was really convenient to be able to roll the shelf around and into different positions. I also realized that the casters have the extra benefit of keeping the wood off the garage floor where it might someday come into contact with water (washing the garage floor, flooding washing machines, etc.).

I did add one final touch to the shelving, in that I added an eye hook to tie some rope through which connected to the wall. Living right next to the San Andreas faultline, I wouldnt want to find my shelf and all its contents laying on my car after an earthquake. Now for the best part…when my wife pulled into the garage and saw all the clutter neatly organized onto the shelf, she was delighted…and finally realized I could build something that I always say I could for less. Score!

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21 thoughts on “Build your own garage shelf for under $30.

  1. Emmanuel

    i made the shelf, its a little flimsy so i added support under the corners of the shelves now they are heavy duty

  2. Blog Master Post author

    What kind of screws did you use to fasten the wood together? I used 3″ screws with an impact driver to get them in tight. My shelf has over 500lbs sitting on it without any sign of fatigue. I think the key is to make sure the 2 x 4’s are fastened vertically instead of horizontally. This keeps the flexing to a minimum.

  3. Stillehavet

    Diagonally bracing is the best way to reduce flex. Triangles are your friend; be it a shelf, bridge, skyscraper or race car chassis

  4. Blog Master Post author

    Get two heavy duty eyehooks which allow for an appropriate thickness rope to pass through, then screw one eyehook into a garage wall stud where it can match the height of the corresponding eyehook on the shelf. Then take the other eyehook and screw it into the shelf at the same height level where you previously screwed the eyehook into the garage wall. It should typically be mounted towards the top of the shelf so that if in the event of an earthquake, the shelf will not tip over and fall.

  5. Jon

    I am usually terrible with home projects. This one was not very hard. I was able to get home depot to cut most of the wood. It cost me around $65 since I didn’t have any of the supplies (screws & wood) but these shelves are huge!!! I am glad I did it. Thanks!

  6. a


    Thanks for taking the time to put this out there!

    Just built this shelf, pretty much as you’ve laid it out, as a project to work on with my son. We used framing 2X3 instead of 2X4 on all except the verticals & the bottom-most level to save some weight, AND reclaimed board, old shelves & reused screws as much as possible. The whole thing came out very sturdy and solid.

    It took me a while to get level and square. I was wondering if there were any tricks to doing this quickly, given that the garage floor isn’t either perfectly horizontal or even.

    Also, a request regarding your blog – I only see the most recent posts. Would it be too much trouble to ask if you could put up links to other stuff you’ve done in the past on the sidebar?

  7. Blog Master Post author

    Hey thanks for the feedback, as for getting everything all leveled and straight, I just made sure I made the cuts straight and even. What I found was that the drill-driver applied enough force to the posts to butt them up against each other and allow the joints to be pretty straight. I did have a weird tweakage when I layed down the fronts and backs and put them together, but when I applied weight to the shelf, everything flattened out..

    Ill look into getting my posts to be shown on the side, but im not really great at wordpress design, so it may take me a while to make it work and look decent. Thanks for reading!!

  8. Shucky

    I’m gonna make this shelf! Looks great. May put in some angled braces like the fella above suggested just I get carried away loading the shelves 😛 Thanks for posting!

  9. Phil


    This is exactly what I was looking to do. I’m inspired now to tackle this project. I just had my garage redone (gutted except for studs) and my old shelf had to go. Thanks for the article.

  10. Kristine

    Your comments at the beginning of your post describe my garage exactly! Been going through things and trying to organize it all, but what it needs is SHELVES! Your shelves are very similar to what I have in mind. Your instructions ought to be enough to convince my husband to build them for me. Ours will have to be somewhat different to fit against a wall with a ledge toward the bottom. If we use three studs for the supports, one set on the ledge, two going down to the floor, we’ll have shallower shelves at the bottom, but that’s okay! I’m also thinking I’d like them to go clear to the ceiling and use every bit of the vertical space. I think the brackets are a good idea, too. Thanks!

  11. Kevin

    Thanks. I used your description as a basic guide and then beefed it up a bit to make some shelves 8′ x 4′ and 7′ tall. I made 4 forms with 2x4s using two 8′ lengths and four 45″ lengths at 32″ intervals for each form (although I used seven 45″ lengths at 16″ intervals for the bottom level to give more support for my plywood since that was where my heavier items would be). Once I had those made, I screwed 7′ posts to the oustide of the bottom form – one at each corner plus 2 more on each side at 32″ intervals for a total of 8 posts. I screwed 1/2″ plywood on top of my bottom form to give me a shelf. Then I cut eight 2x4s to my desired shelf height and then screwed one to each post. I just laid my next form on top of those 2x4s and used some corner braces to give the cross sections a bit more support and just repeated until I had what I wanted.

    It took me about 6 hours or so to cut everything and put it all together and probably cost me about $175. Here is what I used:
    – eight 7′ 2x4s (vertical posts)
    – eight 8′ 2x4s (the lenght of my form inserts)
    – nineteen 45″ 2x4s (sides and cross sections of form inserts)
    – eight 33″ 2x4s (bottom shelf clearance)
    – sixteen 17″ 2x4s (the height of my other shelves)
    – four 4’x8’x 1/2″ OSB (I had them cut to 32″x48″ so they were easier to handle)
    – 12 corner braces (for the cross sections)
    – about 150-200 3″ wood screws and
    – a handful of 1.25″ wood screws (to secure my OSB)

    Thanks for the description/photos, they were very useful in helping me come up with my plan.

  12. Warren Jones

    I found this site while looking for another DIY rack. The other storage rack was built with a metal frame, and the two long sides met at the top. In other words, it looked something like a wooden pole tent when it was assembled. The sides were made of pegboard. There were no shelves. It was designed to hang everything from the two sloping pegboard sides.

    I now think this design may do. It’s a lot simpler to construct, and there is no welding required. In fact, now that I’ve seen it, I think I can easily duplicate the “tent pole” design, which may be better for ease of access for many small parts and tools. Whichever design I finally choose, this website has given me confidence that I can easily do it.

    Oh, one more thing: Despite long searches, I could never find the other design again, so it looks like I’ll have to start with your design no matter the intended final result.

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  14. Cesar

    Well, made it! Not bad for my first storage shelf. Was a little off square ( warped pieces), but it all panned out.

    The only change to your plans, was that I left the runners at 6′. Also, I used 2×3’s ( they where cheaper😁).

    Thanks, it was a big help.

  15. a

    Update on an earlier comment by me on On July 30, 2012 at 9:19am

    Been mo’ than 2 years now abd the three shelves I built have held up fine. The teeny coaster wheels I put in seem to be holding up well over the years and the bearings aren’t shot. Its great to be able to move fully loaded shelves around to rearrange when the kids need garage space for projects or if I need to clean out. The shelves are really LOADED (I need to empty the top layer befor I move them) and have held up well under that load.

    I’ll be building one more, perhaps two. The only downside to these id that nobody throws anything away anymore! We just pile it on the shelves!

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  17. jay behm

    It looks great idea. I will definitely use your idea to make rack for my garage. It looks cheaper then market. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

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