Easy and Inexpensive DIY Shelves for Garage Storage

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Looking for an easy and inexpensive way to make DIY shelves for garage storage? I run a small online retail business, so when my husband, Ryan, and I purchased our first house in 2015, it had to have a garage. I keep most of my products stored in labeled totes for easy access, so after closing on the house in June, it was time to figure out shelving. After some time spent online and discussing designs with my father-in-law, this is what we came up with.

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Not too shabby, right?

Actually, I love them. Not only were they easy to put together, they were incredibly well-priced, especially when compared to store-bought options. Yikes! Seriously, these buddies are significantly bigger in size, far sturdier, and won’t break the bank. A quick trip to Lowe’s, Home Depot, or your favorite local lumber yard and you’ll be set.

One of my favorite things about these DIY shelves for garage storage is that you can make as many of them as you need. Since our garage is where I work, we literally lined every wall with these bad boys. What’s more, you can adjust the height of each shelf to meet your specific needs. For me, that meant just large enough for a regular-sized tote. We varied things up a bit with ours, but when done right, a single one of these DIY shelves for garage storage can hold 16 totes.

Storage problem solved.

What You’ll Need

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  • Drill (or two, if possible)
  • Extension Cord(s)
  • Wood Screws
  • Matching Drill Bit for Screws
  • Wood Drill Bit (slightly smaller than the diameter of your screws)
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Miter Saw (unless you want an 8’ x 8’ shelf)
  • 2” x 4” x 8” Boards (6 per shelving unit)
  • 2” x 3” x 8” Boards (probably 8, but may vary depending on the number of shelves you want)
  • Plywood (1 to 2 depending on the width and number of shelves you want)

Okay, I realize there’s a lot of “depending on” in that list, but I think that’s important. One of the major plus-factors with these DIY shelves for garage storage is that they are so versatile. You can make them to fit your specific needs.

So let’s break some of this down.  

Drill(s)

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The better your drill, the easier the project will be. I personally like to use two drills, one for my wood drill bit and one for my screws. This means you don’t have to waste time switching them out over and over again.

I also recommend using electric drills. Dealing with extension cords can be a pain, but I far prefer it to charging (or forgetting to charge) battery packs and weak tork when they start dying.

If you need a new drill for your DIY shelves for garage storage project, check out the price on this Black & Decker.

Miter Saw

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So, technically, you can get away without using a saw at all – assuming your garage can house an 8’ x 8’ shelving unit. We cut most of ours down to about 5.5’, but have a couple taller ones as well. You’ll just need to decide what will work for you.

As for the miter saw, I absolutely love mine. It’s probably one of my favorite tools. I got mine at Lowe’s a few years ago, but they have them on Amazon at a comparable price. Here a Hitachi for $119 and a Black & Decker for only $72.99.

Lumber

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You’ll need six 2” x 4” boards for each of the DIY shelves for garage storage you plan to make. We needed several, but we built them against every wall. You can always build one and get more lumber for more if they suit your needs.

The number of 2” x 3” boards you need will depend on how high you want each of your shelves. We used eight for most of our units, but as many as 12 for one of them. You could get away with a few as six if you really wanted to.

As for the plywood, this can depend a little too. We had ours cut at the store into thirds, which ends up being right at 1’4” wide and 8’ long. If you want shallower shelves, you could probably get away with having the plywood cut into 4ths (approximately 1’ wide each). For totes storage, though, I don’t recommend going any smaller than 1’4” wide. That does mean, however, that you’ll probably need more than one piece of plywood – unless you decide three shelves is all you need.

Be careful about using warped wood. The weight of these shelves helps straighten everything out, but it’s still best to buy pieces that aren’t bowing in the middle.

Let’s dive in, shall we!?

Step Two: Gather Your Materials

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The first step to building your DIY shelves for garage storage is to gather all of your materials together in a large working space. We used our then-empty garage!

Step Three: Build Your Frames

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Once you’ve gathered everything you need for your DIY shelves for garage storage project, you’ll need to build the front and back frames. Do this by putting three of your 2” x 4” boards flat on the floor. Place a 2” x 3” board on top of the each of the 2” x 4” board ends (making a giant square with a line coming down the middle). Try to space out your 2” x 4” as evenly as possible, although it doesn’t have to be exact.

Next, drill a hole in all four of the corners and insert a screw. Once done, you need to square everything up. Do this by measuring corner-to-corner on both sides. With only a single screw in each corner, it should be easy to adjust as needed. You want both corner-to-corner measurements to be as close as possible.

Now it’s time to drill! Add another screw to each corner and attach the middle 2” x 4” with two screws at each end as well.

Do this twice so that you have two frames.

Step Four: Place Your Shelf Notches

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Here’s where you’ll need the tape measure. Determine how high you want each of your shelves and place the 2” x 3” boards accordingly. Measure both sides and mark final placement so that you know it’s consistent throughout – otherwise you’ll have a slanted shelf.

Once they are placed, drill and screw twice each where the 2” x 3” boards touches the 2” x 4” boards. This part of the DIY shelves for garage storage project goes much faster with two drills, especially if you have two people working on it.

Step Five: Attach the Plywood

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While this is certainly easier with two people, it’s possible to do it alone. If there are two of you, one person can hold the two frames while the other places, drills, and screws in the plywood. The plywood should rest on the 2” x 3” boards nicely. If you’re alone, you’ll need to utilize your walls and attach the plywood to the frames one at a time.

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It’s easiest to start with the bottom shelf. Drill and screw in your corners first, then go back and drill holes along the length of the plywood and 2” x 3”, approximately one every foot. This ensures the plywood is attached well and won’t warp as the humidity changes.

Next, add the plywood to the second shelf, attach at the corners, and screw down. Repeat this until you’ve attached a piece of plywood to every shelf.

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Please note that you should support the frames well while attaching the first few plywood shelf pieces. If you let them go too soon, they can tip opposite directions and tear your wood.

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You’ll probably need a step stool at some point, but we made use of a paint bucket we had lying around instead.

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I also recommend positioning your DIY shelves for garage storage before adding all the plywood. They can get pretty heavy once they’re all put together.

And You’re Done!

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That’s pretty much it. Super simple, right!? You can sand and paint your shelves at this point, although I just let mine the way they were.

Now it’s time to enjoy your DIY shelves for garage storage!

Have Questions About These DIY Shelves for Garage Storage?

Do you have questions about this tutorial, additional words of advice, or personal experiences building these DIY shelves for garage storage? Share them in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my DIYing to Share mailing list. I don’t send stuff out super often, but when I do, it’s great for DIYers of all experience levels.

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