How to Make Shelves With 2x4s


Shelves can be expensive, especially if you need a custom shelf for a specific item to store. Making your own shelves is not only fairly simple, but you’ll save a lot with a DIY job. Using 2x4s for a shelf helps give a sturdy and secure base, making these shelves ideal for use in the garage or laundry, or for heavy items that other shelves may not take.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Stud finder
  • Measuring tape
  • 1 board, 2 x 4 x 30 inches
  • Level
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • 2 boards, 2 x 4 x 8 inches
  • Shelf brackets, 10 x 8 inch
  • 1 piece 1 inch plywood, 30 x 15
  • Find the studs in the wall and mark them in the area where you want your shelf to go.

  • Measure the height you want your shelf, from the ceiling down, marking the spot for your shelf on either side of two studs, which will form the support for your shelf.

  • Place the 30 inch 2x4 horizontally on the wall where you want the shelf for the back cleat of the shelf. Check that it is level, then pre-drill two holes through the 2x4 into each stud—ideally there will be a stud behind either end of the 2x4. Screw the 2x4 into the wall studs.

  • Position the two 8-inch 2x4s vertically under the 30-inch 2x4, one on either end at right angles. Pre-drill holes every two inches on each side of the 2x4s into the wall stud, then screw in place. There should be eight screws in each upright 2x4.

  • Hold the shelf bracket flush with the top of the shelf cleat, with the 10 inch end pointing down along the 8-inch 2x4. There should be around two inches between the end of the shelf bracket and the end of the vertical 8-inch 2x4. Pre-drill holes through the screw holes of the brackets, through the 2x4s and into the stud behind the wall. Screw in place. Repeat with the remaining bracket on the other end of the shelf.

  • Position the piece of plywood on top of the shelf bracket, flush with the wall. The plywood will sit atop the cleat and the shelf bracket, which enables it to be screwed directly into the cleat for extra support.

  • Pre-drill a hole every five inches through the surface of the plywood into the top edge of the cleat, being careful to avoid the areas with screws in them already. Screw the plywood down, to finish your sturdy 2x4 shelf.

Tips & Warnings

  • For continuous shelves along a wall, use a longer 2x4 for the cleat, then position the vertical 2x4s over every wall stud, and use longer pieces of plywood for the shelf tops. These kind of shelves can easily go along the whole length of a wall.

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  • Photo Credit plush toy image by Marek Kosmal from
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