DIY Basement/Garage Shelves with Step-by-Step Instructions

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One thing that we talk about a lot is having a bulk supply of food on hand – both for thrift and emergencies (loss of job, natural disaster, etc.) and having a good storage system makes a big difference to what your bulk buying ability is.

Bulk food buying and making many things from scratch saves us hundreds of dollars every year, along with having healthier foods too!

So whether you buy in bulk or use coupons to stock up on foods, this might be an easy and more affordable solution.

A good set of shelves can be quite expensive.  But the estimated cost of the above shelving system is $42 after purchasing the materials needed at Lowes.

Here’s that example:

Materials and Cost to Build Shelves

  • 2″x3″x8′ Pine, dimensional lumber @ 1.38 x 15ea. = $20.70
  • 5/8″ OSB, 4×8 sheets @ 5.94 x 3ea. = $17.82
  • 3″ screws to secure ladder supports to joists @ 5.94 x 1 box = $5.94
  • 1 1/4″ screws to secure OSB shelves in place @ 5.94 x 1 box = $5.94
  • Nails to build ladder frames
  • 4 spare bricks

The total cost to build these shelves was about $42 dollars

Here’s a quick summary of the steps to make these shelves, head to the One Project Closer site for the full detailed instructions.

Build the Supports

Find two straight 2×3′s and line them up parallel to each other. Cut four other 2×3′s at two feet long and nail them across the gap, spaced 18″ on center. Flip the support over and nail four more 2×3′s at the same distance on the other side. Keep everything square so otherwise the OSB or Plywood won’t sit flat.

Attach to Joists

Next, anchor these supports to the floor joists above. Use 3″ screws to attach more 2x3s to the joists, and subsequently to the supports.

Cut OSB or Plywood

Finally, cut the OSB or plywood into 2′x4′ sections with a table saw. The OSB or Plywood serve as the shelf and spans the distance between adjacent ladder supports. It sits on top of the ladder rungs and is secured with 1-1/4″ screws. You can also have the wood cut to the right size at Lowes or Home Depot at the time of purchase.

It can be a fairly simple process and you can have a nice set of wooden storage shelves in an afternoon.

Have you made your own storage shelves before? What tips do you have?


  1. Chris Hull says

    Got a problem with design is that it starts out holding xmas gear in plastic boxes and ends up holding car parts and bottled water by the next homeowner. You are not providing enough of a safety factor with the joist attachment. All with kids around.

    IMO Problem with this design, all tortional forces become sheer forces on screws in cheap plywood or the 2 3″ screws joist. I have built these to put 80lb/ft^3 box that is twice the density of loaded up file boxes. Seeing what file boxes do to this sort of shelf’s before without modification , crack then crash is a understatement. You need some sort of horizontal stringer making a strong shelf and a strong horizontal member.

    If you going to do it…Put a pair of 2×2 or 2×4 under each shelf and horizontally because this design pictured is good for about 120 lbs per shelf and with 2×2 under each shelf are good for for about 500lbs per shelf with the cheaper plywood. adhesive and 4 screws per shelf foot change this from weak at holding Christmas ordinates to holding Tax Records, Industrial Parts and dumbells.

    You could use floor grade plywood instead of wall grade and add adhesive to the rails but the cost would skyrocket over cheap wall/siding grade plywood. You really cannot count on the rigidly of the building above as you are putting all the lateral forces on the side of screw on the installation shown. A cleat on the back wall would be half my design and put additional load on wall you don’t know what the design factor is, wind load and the shelf load have a 1/4 chance of aligning. Put this in a minor earthquake and and goodby car or kid time.

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