Easy and Fast DIY Garage or Basement Shelving for Tote Storage

Happy New Year, guys! Thanks for understanding as we've taken a little bit of family time over the Holidays.

If you are anything like me, all you can think about after the Holidays is LESS. Less food, less gifts, less indulgances, less clutter. Less clutter especially.

The hubs and I built new tote storage shelving for his Mom - three sets actually - and I wanted to share how we did this with you. It's a pretty tradditional garage shelving system -

Just 2x4s and plywood. Nothing special there.

How this humble garage shelf is special is in HOW it is made. This will change your life. Seriously. It's already changed mine.

So you start with your wall. It has to be a wall that you can screw into studs or otherwise anchor in to the wall. If you don't have that type of wall, maybe check these plans out.

Mark out all the studs in the wall and attach a 2x4 in the desired shelving length to the studs in the wall. You can also piece 2x4s (for example use two 8 foot long 2x4s instead of a 16 footer) - just make sure you adequately attach to studs in wall.

Use 3" or longer screws (depending on wall construction). Use a level to make sure you attach the 2x4 to the wall level. I highly recommend self tapping wood screws to make your life alot easier.

TIP: Consider making your shelves 8, 12, 16 or 20 feet long to optimize plywood and wood use.

There's the first one up.

Once you have the first one up, you can just measure off of it to attach your remaining shelf boards.

Might I suggest figuring shelf heights to fit totes or whatever you may be storing in these shelves?

TIP: You can cut two scrap wood 2x4s and uses as spacers to find the height between the 2x4 shelf boards.

Okay here's where it gets awesome. Next, screw a second 2x4 to the first 2x4, in the same length.

Don't screw the screw all the way in, and only put two screws in each board.

Next, cut 2x4s to the height of your shelving and screw to the second 2x4 with 3" or shorter screws.

You'll want a leg on each end, and then middle legs depending on your span. 2x4s can span about 8 feet, so we added one leg for this 16 foot long shelving unit.

Now unscrew those screws attaching the second 2x4s to the first ones, and remove the second leg set.

This isn't necessary, as the plywood on top will tie the second leg set to the first, but we have overbuilding issues. So we cut 2x4s to 3" less than our plywood shelving pieces, Kreg Jigged pocket holes in one side, and attached to the first shelf boards. If you don't have a Kreg Jig, get one, but until then, you can drive screws at an angle into that first row of 2x4 boards.

TIP: To optimize plywood use, plan your shelving to be 12", 16" or 24" in width. This means the 2x4 cleats would be 9", 13", or 21" long, respectively.

We placed cleats near the middle and ends, avoiding areas that would overlap the legs and be hard to screw into.

Then we just put that second leg set up to those cleats,

And screwed it to the cleats using 3" screws.

TIP: If your floor slopes or is uneven, as most basement and garage floors do, you can easily shim under the legs to level out your shelves. We shimmed with metal washers to bring the wood up a tiny bit from the garage floor, allowing water damage around the legs, hopefully preventing the bottom of the 2x4 from every rotting out (and mitigating the need to use treated lumber).

We ripped plywood into 15-3/4" strips so it would fit easily inside the shelves and also accounts for the saw blade width, and layed the plywood on the shelving. We use 1/2" plywood for the 16" width shelving - perhaps go up to 5/8" or 3/4" if you do 24" wide shelving or have especially heavy loads destined for these shelves.

TIP: If you don't have a table saw or a truck to haul full sheets of plywood, just have your home improvement store rip the plywood for you - accuracy is not essential in this project.

Then we just screwed all the plywood down. I think we used 1-1/4" screws (was burning up whatever we had leftover in the shop). You won't need a ton of screws, just enough to keep the two 2x4s together and the shelving plywood down.

So fast and easy, we ended up making three different shelving units!

You can also check out the video we put together on this shelving unit.

We hope this tutorial is super helpful to you and makes your life easier. If you build, we'd very much appreicate seeing your project! You can share by bragging or posting a photo to social media and tagging me #anawhite.

XO Ana

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