How to Build Garage Shelves

If you follow me on Instagram you have already gotten a glimpse of the garage overhaul and all the projects I have been working on.  I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it feels to have the garage organized.  I literally go out there like 5 times a day and just stare at the fact that everything has a place.  Sweet organizational bliss.


The garage at my new house needed some SERIOUS organization.  There was not a single shelf in the 3-car oversized garage.  The people who lived here before us had a few nails and hooks hanging, but other than that, nothing.  While I know that the garage is not usually the first project you take on when you move into a new house, I felt I had to organize my garage workspace before I build make, or paint anything inside. Plus the movers left quite a few boxes in the garage that didn’t belong there (hello? where is the iron?).  Here is the hot mess I started with after the movers left.

messy-garage (2)
Overwhelming isn’t it?  I spent ALL last week in the garage going through each and every box and creating organization and functionality for our family.  So let’s begin with project #1 – building the ginormous garage shelves.

The best part about this project is that if you don’t do step #5, and you have 9’ ceilings you don’t even have to pull out a saw.  Lowes ripped the plywood in half for me and I was able to use the 2 x 2’s and the 2 x 4’s at their 8 foot length.  I made two shelves for a total of 16 feet of storage by 8 feet high.  That is a whole lotta room for STUFF.  These go together in less than an hour if you have two people to work on it.  Since they are so big you will need a second set of hands – believe me I tried it solo, it wasn’t pretty.

Supplies for one shelf (although I made two):

straight edge



phillips head drill bit

2” x 4” x 8’ (8)

2” x 2” x 8’ (10 – for five shelves)

4’ x 8’ sheet of 3/4” plywood (5 – ripped length wise)

optional: 1” x 2”  x 8’ (2)

tape measure

1 1/2” wood screws

2 1/2” wood screws

5” or 6” wood screws

stud finder

Brother Labeler (affiliate link)

*I got all my supplies at Lowes and for just lumber it was $196.20 for both shelves.  It looks to be around $108.84 for one shelf.  I had all the screws on hand from other projects so you have to add that in as well if you don’t have them.

1.  Mark the frame parts to make it easier on yourself.  You can mark them all at one time with a pencil so they go together quickly.  Do this with both the frame and the rails.  It is hard to tell in the picture below but you can see faint pencil marks where my 2 x 2’s will go.


2.  Working on a flat surface screw your 2” x 2” rails to the 2” x 4” frames using 2 1/2” screws.  One of the things that I did in step #5 is to add cleats so you have small “drawers” using plastic bins.  Measure the width of the widest part of your bin’s top and make sure your 2 x 4’s can accommodate the bin’s width plus the 1x 2’s attached for sliders (yep it requires a little bit of math).  I used two different sized bins for each shelving unit so I could have smaller and wider bins.


3.  Working on the ground add your 3/4” plywood into the rails using 1 1/2” screws.


4.  Lift your shelving unit up and put it in place. Check to make sure your shelves are level.  You may need some wood shims if your garage floor isn’t perfectly level.  Shim where necessary. Use a 5” or 6” screw to screw through the 2 x 2’s into the stud.  These will be so secure you could have a party on the shelves and they won’t come down.  I added 4 screws total and it was plenty secure.



5. (Optional) Install your cleats for the slide-out bins.  I used a leftover 1” x 2” scrap as a spacer so that the slide-outs where 1 1/2” from the bottom of the shelf above it.  Pre-drill your holes (so your 1 x 2’s don’t split) and then use 1 1/2” screws to secure.  You could always stack your plastic bins on top of each other but I felt like the slide-outs would make it easier since I am constantly pulling out these bins.




6.  Grab your labeler and make sure everything is labeled and has a home.  I like using a labeler rather than a Sharpie marker since the contents change regularly.


Fill up your shelves.  If you are anything like me you won’t have any problems finding stuff to put on the shelves.





  1. kristin marvin says

    They are awesome! I am laughing at how many tape measures you appear to have! I think you may beat Sandra from The Sawdust Girl on count–I would love to know who has more. 🙂

  2. Love these! My small garage is in desperate need of reorganization, but there is literally no more floor space. Building up with commercial shelving is out of the question financially, and I am not very handy with a saw. This seems like something I could do, though. Thanks!

  3. Ted Pendlebury says

    Question: Why not put your back shelf cleats directly onto the wall, rather than adding 2×4 verticals? Was there a purpose for that?

    • Yes, because I wanted to add cleats to create the sliders for the drawers. It would have been more difficult to do it that way without the added 2 x 4 in the back. But you could totally do that. That would save you a few bucks for sure!

  4. Question: 4’ x 8’ sheet of 3/4” plywood (3 – ripped length wise) what does this mean?

    • Hi Samantha, I just realized I have it wrong in my tutorial. It should be five sheets of 4’x8′ 3/4″ plywood each ripped in half lengthwise so you have ten 2’x8′ pieces. Does that make sense?

      • Now do you have to drill it into the wall? Or is stable enough to stand on it’s own?

        • You do have to attach it to the wall. See step 4. It says, “Use a 5” or 6” screw to screw through the 2 x 2’s into the stud. These will be so secure you could have a party on the shelves and they won’t come down. I added 4 screws total and it was plenty secure.” Hope that helps!

  5. So what do you figure the total dimensions are going to be for this shelving unit?

  6. This is fantastic. I love it. How wide is it…I think it is 2″ but your large bins look like they are wider than 24″.

    • Hi Jackie, You are right. The shelves are 2 feet deep. The bins on the very bottom are longer and stick out a little bit. You can kinda tell from the pictures.

  7. you are a freakin’ rock star… ya just are…. tools scare me…. cutting wood and measuring and ESPECIALLY “anchoring” something to a wall… scares me… I hate redoing stuff… I’m so envious of DIYers! GREAT JOB!

    • Ha! You are cracking me up. Honestly, it’s one of those things that gets easier over time. I used to think I could never build anything and was scared to death to try. However, it really wasn’t as hard as I thought, and each time I learn something new and get better. I would recommend trying some small projects and easing yourself into it until you feel more comfortable.


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