DIY shelves for garage storage

After moving I was desperately in need of storage space in the garage (I basically went from a 4 car garage to a small 2 car garage – talk about downsizing) and after researching I decided to design something similar to the shelves on DIY Design Fanatic with some minor modifications. Another site suggested moving the legs in at least 5” from ends to prevent sagging in the middle of the shelves, at the last-minute I decided to add center supports under each shelf. Other than that, DIY Design Fanatic had a perfect plan. Below is my finished DIY garage storage shelves.

DIY shelves for garage storage - TheDIYGirl.comScrews vs. Nails

3ab19e13-6ee8-4af0-98bf-f29101fb3f2a_400Using a nail gun would have been quicker, but it would have been a forever kind of assembly. I opted for screws so shelves could be adjusted up and down or the entire shelf disassembled if needed.

I secured the shelf frames with 3” screws and attached the OBX to the frame with 1 ¼” screws. The shelves were also attached to the legs with 3” screws. I am not good with a drill and screws and opted for the more expensive self-tapping screws that went into the wood beautifully and I was able to complete the entire shelf unit without stripping one screw and with very little cussing and swearing.

My advice: spend the extra money and get the good screws. They are #9 star flat-head deck screws available at both Lowe’s and Home Depot and each box includes the bit for driving the screws.


I drew up the design and according to my measurements the shelf unit (one row of containers on the floor and 3 shelves for containers) should hold 22-23 plastic containers. I wanted the bottom shelf to leave 23 ½” for larger containers on the floor. The other 2 shelves would leave 20 ½” and the top shelf would sit at 75”. The garage ceiling is about 102” so that shelf would have about 27” of space.

My only dilemma was how to assemble. Not one site detailed the assembly process.


I purchased everything at Home Depot and it cost me less than $80. I had them cut the sheets of OBX for me. I don’t have a table saw and have a small SUV — that way I could haul all the materials home.

Qty Description
12 2 x 4’s
2 sheets of 7/16th OBX ripped in half lengthwise
1 box 1 ¼” self-tapping star deck screws
1 box 3” self-tapping star deck screws

DIY shelves for garage storage - TheDIYGirl.comAssemble the shelves

As I cut 4 24” pieces of 2 x 4 for the ends of each shelf I ran into a surprise. I had purchased the cheapest 2 x 4’s and wasn’t aware they are not a full 8’ long – they are a nominal 93″ compared to 96″ . The width of the end pieces was 3” and my shorter 2 x 4’s left me a little short for the OBX. It was less than a ½” so I decided to live with it instead of loading up 11 boards and returning them to the store. The OBX is just a little longer than the frames and it doesn’t bother me one little bit. If I would have purchased 8′ 2 x 4’s I would have needed to cut each to fit under the OBX.

As mentioned above, I was a little worried about the weight on the shelves so I added center supports to prevent the OBX from sagging. Easier to do it now than wish I would have done it later.

DIY shelves for garage storage - TheDIYGirl.comDIY shelves for garage storage - TheDIYGirl.comAdding the legs

I cut the leg pieces to 75”, the height of the tallest shelf. I then turned one of the shelves upside down on the floor to attach the 4 legs. I used a square and a level to make sure they were straight before screwing them in.

DIY shelves for garage storage - TheDIYGirl.comNow the tricky part – how to assemble it the rest of the way by myself. The only way I could think was on its side. I rolled it over with the top shelf away from the wall I wanted the shelving unit to be against since it seemed like that would be the easiest way to lift it into place when it was done.

Adding shelves 2 and 3

I put shelves 2 and 3 on their sides and slid them in between the legs. I measured the living daylights out of it to make sure the top of the shelf second from the top was at 51” on the legs and 5” in from the ends of the shelf. Note: I realized I had the shelf turned the wrong way and removed the shelves, put the top away from the wall, and then repositioned the shelves.

DIY shelves for garage storage - TheDIYGirl.comSame for the last shelf. I measured to make sure all 4 legs were attached with the top of the shelf at 27” and 5″ in on each end.

I basically had it lying on its front side. I put the screws in the back legs and screwing into the frame. For the front of the shelf the screws went into the shelf frame and then through the legs. I used 3 screws to attach all 3 shelves to all 4 legs. It was a lot of screws, but the shelf was going to hold a lot of weight.

DIY shelves for garage storage - DIY shelves for garage storage - TheDIYGirl.comErecting

Now the funny part. It dawned on my that I had built really great garage shelves all by myself and had absolutely no chance of setting it up and positioning it on my own. I had mentally started referring to the project as “the beast” because it was.

The weight of each individual shelf was heavy. All three shelves assembled with legs  was really, really heavy. I tried to lift the top edge. There was no way that was happening so I called a friend and had to wait for assistance. It was even heavy for the two of us to heave up into place.

DIY shelves for garage storage - TheDIYGirl.comDIY shelves for garage storage - TheDIYGirl.comDIY shelves for garage storage - TheDIYGirl.comI’m still in shock how much the thing holds. I have ladders against the one end and screwed in coat hooks on the other to hang shoes on to keep them off the floor.

And yes, my containers are labeled. I’ve already had people laugh about that, but at least I know what’s in each and every container.

This whole project cost under $80 and took an afternoon. It’s a total bargain when you consider how much storage it provides. And if I move I can take my DIY garage storage shelves apart and take them with me.

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