How to Build Heavy Duty Shelves


Heavy duty shelves are ideal for storage space in garages or workshops where bulky and weighty items need secure, sturdy shelves. Heavy duty shelving should be attached to the wall as well as being supported by upright posts to eliminate the risk of tipping associated with stand-alone shelving units. This kind of shelving is simple to build and when completed will hold up for years.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • Wall stud finder
  • 8 planks 8 foot lumber, 2-by-2
  • Drill
  • 4-inch drywall screws
  • 3 plywood sheets, 3/4-by-24-by-96 inches
  • 1 5/8 inch screws
  • 3-inch wood screws
  • Clamps
  • Mark an 8-foot-long level line on the wall that is 24 inches from the ground. Mark a second level line up another 24 inches then measure up another 24 inches for the third and final level line. Use the wall stud finder to locate the studs in the wall and mark their location on all of the level lines.

  • Position three of the 2-by-2 lumber planks over the three lines on the wall and secure in place with two drywall screws through each wall stud position along the 8-foot length. These are the three shelf cleats, or supports, for attaching the shelving to the wall.

  • Position two of the remaining 2-by-2 planks 24 inches apart and rest one shelf of plywood over the top of them. One 96-inch side of the shelf should be totally flush with one of the 2-by-2 planks, which will be a shelf apron. Secure in place with a 1 5/8-inch screw all the way through the top of the shelf into the flush 2-by-2 every 8 inches along the plywood. Remove plywood shelf and its attached apron.

  • Place another 2-by-2 24-inches away from the left over 2-by-2 and repeat attaching the plywood to one of the 2-by-2 aprons. Attach an apron to the third shelf piece in the same manner. You will have two planks of the 2-by-2 lumber left, which will be used for the upright supports of the shelving.

  • Rest a shelf on the lowest wall cleat, with the shelf apron facing outward. The back of the shelf should be flush with the wall. Attach the shelf to the cleat with the 1 5/8-inch screws every 8 inches. At this stage the plywood shelf will droop a little on the apron side. Repeat with remaining shelves and wall cleats.

  • Stand the two 2-by-2 planks vertically on either end of the shelves, flush with the apron-end of the plywood. Use the level to set the shelves straight and clamp them to the upright 2-by-2 planks. Secure the upright planks to the side of the shelves with the 3-inch wood screws through the uprights into the shelf aprons.

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