How to Build Heavy Duty Storage Shelves With 2-by-4s


Building shelves with shelf brackets and wide planks of pine can certainly help you create extra space in your home, but if you have some really heavy items that you want to place in easy reach, then shelf brackets may not be the best way to go. Instead you can create sturdier shelving with the use of plywood and 2-by-4 framing lumber. These shelves may not be the best thing to look at, but they are a very functional and simple way to create extra storage space. Look around your home or business, and you will probably find many suitable places for these type of shelves.

Things You'll Need

  • 2-by-4s (13 pieces at 8-feet and 4 pieces at 10-feet) 3/4-inch interior-grade plywood (2 sheets) #12 or #16 rosin-coated box nails #6 or #8 rosin-coated box nails Framing hammer Tape measure Circular saw Safety glasses

How to Build Heavy-Duty Storage Shelves With 2-by-4s

  • Build the bottom layer of 2-by-4s first. A good size to use for this shelf platform, is 8 feet long and 2 feet wide. Cut two 2-by-4s at 96 inches (8 feet) and then cut five pieces at 21 inches.

  • Nail the platform together using #16 rosin-coated box nails. The 2-by-4's should be put together standing on edge. That means the frame will be 3 1/2 inches tall. The 21-inch pieces are the crosspieces, and they go every 2 feet on center, just as though you were building a floor frame. Build the platform in location, if at all possible.

  • Nail a 2-by-8-foot piece of 3/4-inch plywood to the top of the platform. You can use #6 or #8 rosin-coated box nails. Place a nail every 6 or 8 inches.

  • Build the 2-by-4 platform for the second row of shelves. Do this in the same manner as for the first platform. Each joint should get at least four nails.

  • Cut six legs at exactly 20 inches long. First nail these to the four corners of the platform. Place one 2-by-4 leg in each corner, and make sure the top of the leg is flush with the top of the platform. Attach the two remaining legs along the center strut, making sure they are also flush with the top of the platform. Each leg should be nailed with at least four #12 or #16 rosin-coated box nails.

  • Nail a 2-by-8-foot piece of 3/4-inch plywood to the top of the platform. You can use #6 or #8 rosin-coated box nails. Place a nail every 6 to 8 inches.

  • Nail the bottom of the leg to the plywood deck below. Use several of the rosin-coated nails at each point of attachment. The bottom portion of the 2-by-4 leg gets toenailed to the frame below. That means each nail gets driven at an angle. These nails have to be driven so that they reach the 2-by-4 frame underneath the plywood.

  • Repeat Steps 5 through 8 to create a third and fourth tier of shelves. This will give you a rack of four shelves that is just over 6 feet tall.

Tips & Warnings

  • The height, width and length of each tier of shelves can be changed to fit whatever space is available. These shelves can be a wonderful addition to your outdoor storage shed.
  • Sand all rough edges with an electric orbital sander, if desired. Pull out any nail that becomes bent during the nailing process.

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