Garage Makeover: Custom Shelving


This post is Part 2 in my “Garage Makeover Series”.  If you read my Garage Makeover: Preparing for Drywall post , you might have noticed that Part 2 was actually supposed to be the installation of drywall over the cement boards.  Well, long story short, my plans to rent a truck that could handle the quantity and dimensions of the materials didn’t pan out.  But rather than put the project off another week, I decided to just switch the steps.  So this post is about the custom shelves we built.

The problem with our garage has nothing to do with the size.  It’s made to fit two cars and we’ve never had a car in it.  The problem is me.  I see the space as prime storage and work space.  So I fill it with all the stuff I don’t want to keep in the house.  The sheer amount of crap I keep in there is rather overwhelming.  That is how the “Garage Makeover Series” came about.  I started by throwing some stuff out.  Then I donated some stuff I knew I would never use.  Finally, I made plans for the remaining belongings.

For the last year or so, I’ve been accumulating thrift store furniture, craft supplies, and lots of tools.  Add that to the list of hubby’s home brew and yard work items and we’ve got ourselves piles and piles of garage goodies.  With no proper storage, everything had its own place on the floor or stacked on top of something else.  I finally put my foot down and started researching shelving options.  Like most furniture items in my house, I just couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for at a reasonable price.  If you can’t buy it, build it.

I found a few different plans from other bloggers and combined some ideas.  I sketched everything out in my trusty sketchbook.  Once I had it all drawn out, I went to Lowes for my materials.  I’ve provided the materials list and cut list below.  I suggest having everything cut at the hardware store.  I managed to do that and didn’t need any of my fancy saws.


My sketchbook is full of stuff like this


(2) Plywood Boards (4′ x 8′)

(10) 2 x 4 x 8s

(4) 2 x 4 x 12s

(96) Wood Screws (#8 x 2 1/2″)

(52) Wood Screws (#8 x 1″)

Power Drill

Impact Driver Drill

Tape Measure

Cut List:

(4) Plywood Pieces (2′ x 8′) – Have the plywood boards cut across the middle

(8) 2 x 4 x 96″ – Cut from 8 of the 2 x 4 x 8s 

(6) 2 x 4 x 80″ – Cut from 4 of the 2 x 4 x 12s and 2 of the 2 x 4 x 8s

(12) 2 x 4 x 21″ – Cut from remainder of 4 of the 2 x 4 x 12s

I realize that my cut list might be a little confusing.  I drew it out as best I could for a better visual.


This is meant to help you visualize the cut list, but the more I stare at it, the more is confuses even me

My original plan was to purchase these materials when I was also buying the drywall.  That way I could use the rented truck to transport everything at the same time.  Since those plans didn’t work out, I had to manage with my Ford Escape.  For the record, I love that car.  I call it the tailgate car.  It’s been to many a football game with me and survived more thrift and hardware store trips than I can count.  I put it to the test with this trip.  I’ll be pretty sad when I have to trade it in later this year for a newer, more reliable “mom car”.


Here we are in the Lowe’s parking lot – thankfully less than 2 miles from home

Once we got everything back to the house we had a really fun time putting it all together.  Since there was no cutting involved, it only took us 2 hours to assemble the whole thing.  That is, of course, because there were two of us.

First, we started with the shelves.  I planned for 4 different shelves spaced evenly apart.  Each shelf required one piece of plywood, 2 of the 2 x 4 x 8s that didn’t get cut, and 3 of the 2 x 4 x 21 inch pieces.  Below is a picture of how we lined up the 2 x 4s.


Once each shelf was lined up, I drilled two holes at the end of each of the three cross bars with the power drill.  Hubby followed behind me with the impact driver and drilled the 2 1/2 inch screws into the holes.  Each shelf required a total of 12 screws.



Once the base of each shelf was assembled, we lined up the plywood piece on top of it.  For this portion, we used the 1 inch screws.  We didn’t think it was necessary to pre-drill holes for this part.  Each shelf required 13 different screws.



I stacked the shelves on top of one another as we finished each of them.


Three shelves down, one to go

Once all four of the shelves were finished, we brought them back into the garage and started setting them up on their sides.  We placed the legs in position so we could measure the distance between each shelf and make them even.


Preparing for the addition of legs

We pre-drilled two holes on each of the legs where they attached to the shelves.  This step required 24 screws on each side.  We used the 2 1/2 inch screws.  For the legs on each end, we placed the screws on top of one another in the center of the board to avoid hitting the screws we used for the shelves beneath.  As for the center leg, we placed the screws next to each other in the center to avoid the other centered screws under it.


Screw placement for the legs on the ends


Screw placement for the legs in the center

Once we finished adding the legs to the one side, we had to flip the whole structure over and repeat those steps on the other side.  WARNING: If you were doing this project by yourself up to this point, good for you.  I commend your efforts.  However, if there is any part of this project that requires two people, this is it.  The shelves are extremely heavy and need to be lifted up on the side to avoid the shelves collapsing.

Once we added the legs on the other side, we prepared to lift the shelf up to its intended position.  This step would also be good to have two people doing.  Make sure you have enough room on the floor and near the ceiling.  We had to adjust our shelves so they wouldn’t smash into our garage door track.




In place!

Now that your shelves are standing upright, you can move them into position.  Since we switched our Garage Makeover steps and our drywall isn’t installed yet, hubby didn’t want to start stacking stuff on the shelves since we are going to have to move them to install the drywall.  However, I told him that no blog post was complete without a picture of the project being used.  So I starting stacking stuff that wouldn’t be hard to remove later down the line.


So much storage space!

Eventually I want to make one or two more shelves for the other side of the garage.  Then I want to buy some big storage bins that I can label to make everything pretty and organized.  Right now it is still a jumbled mess.  But at least the mess is jumbled on shelves instead of the floor. Who knows, maybe by the end of this whole adventure, we will be able to park a car in our garage.  A girl can dream!


Finished Product – 2 Hours and Less than $100!

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