Cheap, Easy-to-Build Wood Storage Shelves


Tags: DIY, DIY project,

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 1/2-inch-thick sheet of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). A full sheet is 4-feet-by-8-feet. Cost: about $7.50
  • 16 8-foot 2-by-4s. Cost: $1.85 x 16 = $29.60
  • 5 pounds of 3-inch deck screws. Cost: $28.24. You could probably find cheaper screws.


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.

8/7/2013 11:02:18 AM

The name I chose says it all. I just rip 2- 4X8 sheets of 3/4" plywood (or OSB )lengthwise (4 - 24"x 96" pieces) then lay down 8 2x4 studs tight together and cut notches across all at once 3/4" wide X 1-1/2 deep at 2' increments vertically. This gives a 2' X 8' set of 4 shelves..Plan ahead to fit what you want to store.

the point is you don't need 2X4 s horizontally to support the plywood. I've used this method in construction storage sheds for HEAVY items like jack hammers and cases of nails etc. The horizontal 2x4s decrease the access needlessly - sometimes such that a container won't fit.

Just keep the notches tight and screw(or nail) into the shelf board in the center to lock it all together. The verticals are movable so as to allow placement to fit containers. The shelves are not destroyed and so can be re-used if necessary.

I've even used this method in a moving truck so as to allow stacking of houshold items to best use the space, then set up the shelves in the garage of new home to allow sorting while un packing.

hope this helps

8/7/2013 10:35:42 AM

sorry the strapping they are referring to is what I call plumbers strap and not furring strips. 


8/7/2013 10:30:23 AM

I see a few people asking about strapping and I'm not 100% sure but I believe what they are referring to is furring strips. These are much cheaper and since they will be used in a way that puts them so they are holdind the wieght with there width and not thee thickness they do a fine job. You will want to be sure to screw the plywood to the strips in front and back so they can't bow in or out but for holding up the wieght they will do fine.

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