More Garage Shelves Detail

by David A. Lyons, March 2002

(See my main garage shelves page if you didn't just come from there.)

The larger clamp style was the most handy. I used the hand saw for the 2x4s, and for removing
rectangular notches from the corners of the shelf surfaces.

I used the ratchet for tightening carriage bolts. Have enough hammers handy that if
someone drops by willling to work, you can accommodate them.

I pre-drilled holes for the carriage bolts (always through two clamped 2x4s). In some cases,
I pre-drilled nail holes too, but only through a single 2x4.

These are the carriage bolts and nails I used. Longer ones for attaching 2x4s, shorter ones for attaching plywood.

I used a circular saw to trim plywood sections for the back wall & sides. I didn't have any sawhorses, so I put the plywood on top of some 2x4s on the garage floor (the thin way, so I was working an inch and a half off the floor). -- I could have used a hand saw, but for the $30 or $40 this saw cost I thought I'd try it the loud way.

With sufficient planning, you might even be able to have the store cut these pieces to the right size when you buy them...if they don't have too harsh a limit on how much cutting they will do for you.

Detail of upper-back-left corner: I left a three-inch lip all the way
across the back so small items cannot get pushed off and fall behind.

Detail view of the upper-left corner. To the left of the 2x4 there is: (1) the plywood left wall, (2) 1x2 spacing frame allowing room for hooks to be inserted through pegboard, and (3) the pegboard. I didn't want my shelf contents directly exposed to the back of the pegboard, but it would be possible to skip the plywood side & spacing frame, and just nail pegboard directly to the main structure.

Further Ramblings

I'm no pro at this stuff...I kind of made things up as I went along, and felt lucky not to make too many mistakes, and no more than 3 extra trips to Home Depot. I got some advice from the Home Depot staff (like "You don't need plywood that thick...try this thinner & cheaper stuff over here").

I planned the general dimensions around the available space in my garage and considering how to make the construction easier for myself: Exactly 4 feet deep and 12 feet wide, so I could use 4-by-4 sheets of plywood without having to cut them. So I sawed a lot of 2x4s with a handsaw, but the only plywood I had to cut was for the back & sides (I would have made it 8 feet tall if I'd had more room...but 8 feet tall and 4 feet deep means I would need 9 feet of clearance if I ever wanted to tip the thing onto its back and remove it from the garage). That's probably a moot point, as the finished product cannot be described as portable.

(If you go with 12-feet wide, check out the Note on the main web page & avoid my mistake: Trim equal amounts from the 4' and 8' beams, rather than taking all the excess from the 8' one, so that the back-wall seam will line up properly.)

I did have to cut little 2x4-shaped corners out of all the shelf pieces. Did that with a handsaw, while each piece was standing up & temporarily clamped to the in-progress frame.

There is one detail-diagram on the web page that shows how I arranged the joints. Whenever I could, I drilled holes with an electric drill through 2 thicknesses of 2x4 & used carriage bolts (with a washer under the nut, and tightened down with a ratchet wrench until I could hear the wood start to squish). -- Everywhere else, I used nails (boxes of nails are surprisingly cheap...the bolts start to add up).

For a few parts of the process, having an assistant is very helpful. When no assistant was handy, I wound up awkwardly clamping a few boards in place while I worked on the other end. -- Toward the end, nailing down all the shelf surfaces is time consuming. Having an assistant then (with his own hammer & stepladder) was great.

Depending on the vertical spacing between the shelves, you could conceivably get "stuck" such that the shelf surfaces cannot be inserted. A little test-fitting along the way could save you such a surprise. I felt a little lucky when I realized that I didn't have that problem, but hadn't checked.

Garage Shelves | | email Dave Last revised 23-Mar-2002