How to Build Wooden Shelves for Your Garage

How to Build Wooden Shelves for Your Garage

A garage isn’t complete without shelving, but purchasing metal shelf kits can put a pretty sizable dent in your wallet. One alternative is to build them out of wood for a fraction of the cost. Here are some easy-to-follow steps to help you make wooden shelving for your garage.

Design Your Shelves

Before you start digging out tools or purchasing lumber, the first thing you need to do is design your shelves. Think about why you need additional storage in your garage. Are you running out of room for your trinkets and knick-knacks, or do you need somewhere to store your bug-out gear and survival supplies? Do you need a way to organize all the junk you’ve accumulated over the years?

Take a good hard look at your garage to see how much space you have available for shelving. You don’t want to build a 12-foot long, 6-foot high shelf if you only have a 5-inch space to accommodate your new design.

Choose Your Tools

This step is based entirely on personal preference. You can choose to use power tools or get your hands dirty and build your shelves by hand.

Power tools give you the option of cleaner cuts and easier assembly, but there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of building something with your own two hands.

The tools you use are up to you, but you will need the following:

  • Saws to cut your lumber to size
  • A drill
  • Screwdrivers or screwdriver bits for the drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Level

You may also need an extra set of hands to hold cross pieces as you assemble the shelves, so grab a buddy and a couple of cold ones.

Select Your Materials

Your next step is to choose and acquire your materials. Again, this will depend on your personal preference and what you’re using the wood for. You’ll probably find pine in abundance at your local hardware store. It is versatile and a great choice if you’re planning to stain your shelves, but don’t use it if you’re going to load a lot of weight on these new shelves. Pine is a softwood, and it dents and bends easily.

Oak, if you can get your hands on it, is a fantastic option. It’s a sturdy hardwood that takes weight well and is easy to work with.

Talk to the lumber specialists at your local hardware store and see what they recommend for your garage shelf project. You won’t usually need anything fancy, like cherry or mahogany, but they may be able to suggest something that will work better than pine or plywood.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

This is a given, but since we’re working with wood, it bears restating.

You can always remove more wood if your lumber is too long, but you can’t undo a cut that’s too short. Stick to this rule and save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run.

Start Building

Now that you’ve got your tools and materials, it’s time to start building. The exact steps you’ll follow here will depend on your design, but we do have a few tips for you:

  1. Cut all your lumber to size first. Rely on your measure-twice, cut-once rule, but having everything already sized helps to streamline your assembly process.
  2. Attach the shelves to your wall studs. Even if it seems stable, these anchors will keep your shelves from tipping over in the future.
  3. Size your shelves to accommodate standardly sized storage totes. This increases their capacity. The totes themselves, once in place, add additional support to the upper shelves.
  4. Take your time. Don’t start this project when you’ve only got an hour to spend on it. Rushing through the assembly will only result in shoddy quality and less-than-stable shelves.

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

Once your project is assembled and anchored, all you have left to do is enjoy the fruits of your labor — and organize your garage, of course. Load those shelves up and enjoy all the space you’ll now have in your shop.

Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington

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