Cheap, Easy-to-Build Wood Storage Shelves

| 11/6/2009 3:13:03 PM

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.

Janet Michaels
5/7/2018 3:46:41 AM

I used the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own shelves – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)

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. 


mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!