How To Build Garage Shelves From 2×4's

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

If you’re a handy homeowner, your garage probably isn’t just a place that you park your car. It’s actually a place where you park everything from seasonal storage, gardening gear, tools, kids’ toys, and wood saws. Without space-saving shelves to help contain all of these supplies and tools, your beautiful garage can end up looking like a disorganized mess.

Thankfully, we have a way to help corral your things and organize your garage space. Installing garage shelves using 2x4s is an efficient, inexpensive, and sturdy way to help step up your organization game. Also, this DIY project is easy enough to be quickly installed over a weekend.

To build garage shelves using 2 x 4’s, you need to measure and cut, and then assemble the end posts as well as the supports. Afterward, you will then attach the OSB shelves. As long as you have all the tools that are needed, the process is extremely simple and perfect for a first-time DIYer!

All this project requires is preparation, the proper materials, and then to cut and assemble all the pieces. Read on to learn about this DIY garage shelving idea that is simple and built to last.

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Tools Required

The following is a list of all the tools that you’ll need to execute this DIY garage shelving project successfully.

  • (13) 8-foot 2x4s (always buy extra in case you run into any issues)
  • (2) 4×8 sheets of 23/32 OSB subfloor or plywood
  • Large box of 3-inch long screws (NOT drywall screws)
  • Chop saw (a skill saw, table saw, jigsaw, and hacksaw will work too)
  • Measuring tape

By ensuring you have the proper tools before you begin, you will help to make the process a lot smoother. It’s also a good idea to have a pen and paper so that you can write out your measurements.

Measuring And Cutting

Whether you’ve chosen to go with OSB or plywood, you’ll need to cut these pieces first.

  • Cut both sheets precisely in half lengthwise. You should end up with four pieces of 2 x 8 to be used as the base of your shelves. Now move on to cutting the 2×4 end and corner pieces.
  • Cut the corner posts. Take four 2x4s and have them cut down to 6 feet pieces. These will be your corner posts.
  • Create the end pieces. For the end pieces, cut one 2×4 into four 21-inch pieces. Then, using the leftover 2-foot pieces from the corner posts, cut the remaining four 21-inch end pieces. This will ultimately leave you with four 6-foot 2x4s, eight 21-inch 2x4s, and eight full 2x4s.

Consider having these all precut at your local hardware store before heading home. They will not only fit easier into your vehicle, but they’ll be easier to carry, and you’ll have less sawdust tracked into your home.

Assemble The End Posts

With all of your wood pieces sized and cut appropriately, it’s time to start assembling the end posts.

  • Mark where the base shelf supports will rest. Begin by laying your four corner posts together on the ground. Mark where the base of the 2×4 shelf supports will fit across all 4 of them.
  • Determine the height. In order to determine shelf heights, you can use scrap pieces of 2×4 or a tape measure to mark more exact measurements.
  • Attach the brackets. Take your end brackets and attach them to the corner posts. Keep in mind that in order to properly fit your shelves, they need to be 21 inches inside. When the side brackets go on, the total width will be 24 inches.
  • Place the end brackets. Next, you need to decide where you want the end brackets to go. Will they be toward the outside of the shelves or the inside of the shelves? If the latter, you will end up having to shave off a few inches of OSB for them to slide in easier. Whereas, if you decide to put them on the outside, this will require you to notch the OSB shelves in order for them to fit correctly.

Assemble The Supports

  • Space out the end pieces. Now that the end pieces have been completely assembled, stand them up on their side and place them about 8-feet apart from each other.
  • Place the top shelf support across the end pieces. Grab what would be your top shelf support and place it across the end pieces to determine the proper distance apart. Then, place the bottom shelf support across the bottom to line everything up correctly.
  • Attach the supports. First, attach the top and bottom supports before moving on to the two middle pieces. This should square the shelving unit up nicely or be relatively close.

Attach The OSB Shelves

With the frame built, the next step is to put the OSB, or plywood, into place. This assembly will depend on the orientation of the end posts you decided. As previously mentioned, if you decided to have them on the inside, you need to trim your OSB shelf pieces and slide them into place. This assembly is slightly easier. However, let’s proceed as if we decided that the end brackets were towards the outside of the shelves.

  • Measure and cut. In this case, you’ll need to measure and then cut the notches in order for them to fit correctly. It’s at this point that having a partner to assist you is extremely helpful! To make it easier on yourself, consider cutting your notches slightly larger than necessary to give you some wiggle room when putting the shelves in.
  • Weigh your alternatives. You also have the option of cutting the OSB pieces in half and putting them in on the left and right sides. This is easier, but you’ll likely have to add a support piece where the two pieces come together underneath.
  • Secure the pieces. You can choose to leave these pieces unsecured, as your items’ weight will keep them down, or nail them into the frame. If you decide to nail them, place the nails roughly every 12 inches.

Now, all that’s left is to stand back and marvel at your creation because that’s all there is to it!

Additional Notes

This assembly isn’t the only way to build garage shelves out of 2x4s. Although it’s a relatively simple, cost-effective way to help increase your space and organization, here are some other ways you could’ve done it:

  • Instead of using OSB or plywood for the shelving bases, you can use 2x4s as well. By simply cutting them to size, threading them into the frame, and securing them in place, you have an excellent alternative to OSB sheets.
  • If placing shelving on the floor of your garage isn’t an option, you can put it on the ceiling. To maximize space, you can build a shelf from 2x4s, plywood, chains, and S-hooks. First, you’ll need to create a thick wood plank with the 2x4s and plywood for a solid foundation. Then simply use a chain to secure S-hooks to the ceiling and base of the shelf.
  • Use angle cut 2x4s as a base and reclaimed wood boards above for DIY garage shelves. You can achieve this by screwing the angle-cut 2x4s flat against the wall as the support and securing the reclaimed wood pieces on top.
  • Instead of building a free-standing shelving unit, you can attach it to the wall. In this case, you won’t build a complete frame, but you’ll need some way to anchor the shelving to the wall. However, install 2x4s vertically along the shelves from floor to ceiling for added support.
  • Create a rustic look in your garage with metal pipes. You can do this with 2×4 or any width you prefer. The pipes will serve as support from the top and bottom of the shelves and also underneath.
  • Use heavy-duty metal brackets for added stability. Regardless of the type of 2×4 shelving unit you build, you can add some type of bracket to the joints to guarantee that it will hold under pressure.

Customize The Style Of Your Shelves

If you want to jazz up your garage space with some neat looking shelves, you could always create a basket type of shelf or get stencils to burn designs into the wood. If you’re wanting to change the color of it, you will want to take care of the painting before mounting so that you can get all the nooks and crannies without accidentally painting your garage wall.

You can also add some wood lettering onto your shelf or under it to personalize the space even more. However, if you want to keep it simple, that’s okay too! Throw some varnish on the wood and hang it up!

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Wrapping It Up

There are many ways to help get the most out of your garage and maximize the space. Designing and building a shelving unit out of 2x4s is just one of them. Take the steps and tips above as inspiration to follow or adapt your own plan for organizing and decluttering your garage.

For more fun weekend DIY projects to amplify your home check out “ How to Install Rubber Pavers (In 3 Easy Steps).”

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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