How to Hang Garage Shelves From Rafters

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Garage rafters can support handy shelves for organizing craft and sports equipment.
Garage rafters can support handy shelves for organizing craft and sports equipment. (Image: Hans Hansen/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Making the most out of the potential storage space in your garage can be challenging, especially if you've already got shelves and storage on the perimeter of the space. But consider the space above your head. If your garage has exposed rafters, they provide an excellent starting point for adding storage. A simple hanging shelf structure can give you a place to store objects that will be in the way sitting on the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 2-by-4-inch board lumber
  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • 10d common nails
  • 3/4-inch plywood sheeting

Determine the location for your shelves. Take into consideration ease of access, and the size of the items you'll be storing. You'll want enough clearance so that you can place the items on the shelf and not hit the rafters above the shelf.

Cut four pieces of 2-by-4-inch lumber. Each piece should measure 4 inches plus the distance below the rafters that you want the shelf at. For example, if you want your shelf to hang 24 inches below the rafters, the length of the boards will be 28 inches. These are the "hanging shelf supports."

Measure the distance between the outside edges of the rafters you'll be hanging the shelf from. Cut two pieces of 2-by-4 board to match that distance, plus 4 inches. For example, if the measurement is 36 inches, your boards will measure 40 inches. These are the "horizontal crosspieces."

Lay two of the hanging shelf supports on the ground, with the 2-inch side resting on the surface. Arrange them so they're parallel, and spaced equal to the first measurement you took in Step 3.

Lay a horizontal crosspiece on top of the hanging shelf supports, with the 4-inch side of the horizontal shelf support resting on the hanging shelf supports. Nail them together where they overlap, using a hammer and 10d common nails. Repeat this process with the other two hanging shelf supports and the other horizontal crosspiece. The two assemblies you've just made will be called the "shelf supports."

Lift the first shelf support and hold it in position against the rafters, with 2 inches of the hanging supports overlapping the wood of the rafters. Nail the shelf support into place with several 10d common nails. You'll need at least one assistant for this.

Lift the second shelf support and place it behind the first support at the desired depth for the size of shelf you're building. Nail it into place on the rafters.

Cut a section of 3/4-inch plywood with a saw to form the shelf proper, and slide it over the horizontal crosspieces, then nail it into place.

References

  • "Carpentry"; Leonard Kohl; 2003
  • "Storage & Shelving Solutions: Over 70 Projects and Ideas That Fit Your Budget, Space, and Lifestyle;" Family Handyman Magazine Editor; 2006
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