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Do-it-yourself projects and plans for anyone who can swing a hammer.

Cheap, Easy-to-Build Wood Storage Shelves

If you have an unfinished basement, a garage or a storage shed, you can store much more in it if you have shelves. Built-in shelves are great, but if you’re renting or want the flexibility to rearrange the shelving units, you could make some free-standing shelves. Here’s a simple method for building some inexpensive wood storage shelves — and you can build them without power tools.

cheap shelving unit

Materials to make two shelving units:


1) Cut the 4-foot-by-8-foot sheet of plywood or OSB into six pieces that are 4 feet by 16 inches. This requires five cuts. The lumberyard or building center where you buy the materials might cut the plywood for you if you don’t have a power saw. Accounting for the width of the saw blade, these pieces will be slightly less than 16 inches wide.

2) Cut 12 pieces of 2-by-4 to 13 inches, for the end supports of the shelves.

3) Cut six of the 2-by-4s in half. These will be slightly less than 48 inches and used to support shelves between uprights.

4) Make six frames for the shelves. Put the 13-inch pieces between the ends of the 48-inch pieces and join each corner with two screws.

cheap shelf frame

5) Attach the plywood pieces to the tops of the shelf frames with screws — two on each long side at least, more if you’d like. Note that the OSB will likely have a smooth side and a rough side. Keep this in mind as you attach it to the frames. Either side will work — this is only personal preference.

cheap shelf

6) Attach an 8-foot 2-by-4 to each corner of the shelves, three shelves per unit. Use two or three screws per joint. You can pick a height for each shelf that works for you. Try to keep the shelves as level as possible.

7) Set the shelves in place.