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Building a Garage Storage Wall

Got a lot of stuff in your garage and no way to organize it? This article will show you how to build simple and inexpensive shelving to hold plastic storage containers that will organize your garage in one day.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Building a Garage Storage Wall

Got a lot of stuff in your garage and no way to organize it? This article will show you how to build simple and inexpensive shelving to hold plastic storage containers that will organize your garage in one day.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine


Joe is the set carpenter for The Family Handyman magazine. He's also a husband, new father, dog owner, hunter, pinball wizard, pool shark, fisherman and the proud owner of a brand new garage, which he built himself. But Joe had a problem— he's got a lot of stuff, and he needed a way to organize it fast (because he'd rather be hunting!). But he has almost no time (see the above list for why) and almost no cash (babies and garages don't come cheap). So Joe's quick, easy-on-the-wallet solution was to build simple shelves that could hold plastic storage bins. He built the whole project in less than a day, and it cost him $300 for 26 ft. of shelving (the bins were extra). His wife thinks he's a genius and so do we. (Joe's just happy he can go hunting.)

Build and assemble it quickly

Mark rail and leg parts after cutting your parts to length. (See Additional Information for a materials list and project illustration with measurements.)

Put the frame together

Keep things square by assembling the frame on top of a piece of plywood.

Install the shelves

A helper makes installing the shelves a lot easier.

Screw the unit to the wall

Screw the unit to the wall through the top rail every second or third stud to make it very stable.

Install the middle cleats for the sliding bins

Hanging the bins from cleats means you don't have to stack them on top of each other and you can easily slide them in and out.

Small bins work well for the middle bays.

Joe's Tips

Each storage unit is basically two frames tied together with plywood shelves. Buy your bins first so you can customize the height and depth of each shelf space. Remember to leave enough clearance space in front of your shelving units to open your car doors.

Small bins are great for storing screws, glue and painting supplies in the middle bays of each unit. The best bins for hanging are those with snap- lock lids. They allow you to hang heavier loads without worrying that the lid will come off.

The fussiest measurements are those for the center bay of smaller bins. If your width measurements are off by a quarter inch, the bins won't sit squarely between the cleats or will be too tight to slide easily.

If your garage floor sometimes gets wet, nail plastic feet to the bottom of the legs. (A set of four nail-on plastic feet costs $3 at home centers.)

You can paint the wood to give it a classy look or leave it bare. Painting it before you put it together is a lot easier than painting it once it's assembled.

Additional Information

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Cordless drill
    • Tape measure
    • Framing square

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

See Additional Information

Comments from DIY Community Members

Share what's on your mind and see what other DIYers are thinking about.

1 - 20 of 31 comments
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July 08, 11:47 AM [GMT -5]

When screwing the unit to the wall with 5" construction screws, the screw will go through 2" of top rail and then 2" of air gap (thickness of the frame) - leaving only an inch for the stud (less than an inch if you consider the thickness of the drywall)... is this sufficient?

April 22, 1:09 PM [GMT -5]

If you're mounting this to a wall anyway, you can cut out four 2x4s by just screwing an 8 foot 2x2 level horizontally to the wall studs as a back ledger board for each shelf. Then just build the front frame to match.

July 09, 10:26 AM [GMT -5]

Can anyone (perhaps the author of the article) explain the 'Rails' referred to in the "Mark frame for quick assembly" picture? Such rails aren't mentioned anywhere else, and are not accounted for in the materials list.

Also, for what it's worth, My adaptations are going to include some adjustable furniture screw-out leveling feet, since my garage floor is nothing resembling flat or level.

One section will be missing the bottom two shelves, so that the front end of a car can fit under it. A couple of front legs will be replaced by 45-degree supports to the wall.

I'm also considering a couple of front doors with hinges on the bottom edges, so that when open - supported by a couple small chains - they offer temporary table-like space.

- K

January 30, 10:45 PM [GMT -5]

Issue for this project is September 2010, hope that helps.

December 25, 10:56 PM [GMT -5]

Anyone remember the month and year of this project? I might still have it!

November 28, 4:17 PM [GMT -5]

I like it and will tackle it after the holidays. His garage looks just like mine.

November 23, 11:49 PM [GMT -5]

Finished this project in 3 hrs last weekend. Pretty easy to do. Just have Home Depot cut your 4x8 to desired shelf size. Purchase lumber for frame and it's pretty much assembly. I made my shelf 15 1/2 inches so I could maximize a 4x8 sheet for 3 shelves (ideally 16" shelves but you lose some in the cut). Made the shelving unity 7' high w/ 4 shelves. Works great and I just added 40 sqft of shelving space. This weekend I'll build another ~20" deep. Should be able to get my car into the garage by the weekend.

October 03, 10:15 AM [GMT -5]

I built this, it was so easy even for a dummy like me. I used the entire 8 feet as i could only build 1 shelf. My garage is tiny should actually be listed as a storage unit as non of our cars fit in there. Already I can walk around in the garage and I have not even started adding bins to the shelves. I still have to build the workbench part and that will be a nice place for my projects, wife will be very happy when I get all my junk out of the house lol.

September 02, 2:29 PM [GMT -5]

Oops. I mean eight 7 foot 2x4s

September 02, 2:23 PM [GMT -5]

@Jeepguy. You forgot 1 important material in your list. eight 8' 2x4s

August 22, 10:42 AM [GMT -5]

One last thing -- the materials list I posted below is good for one 8 foot section of shelving with 4 shelves. Once you put one together, it's like an Erector set, very easy to design your own adaptations from there.

August 22, 10:40 AM [GMT -5]

So far I have covered the back wall of my garage with 20 feet of this shelving as well as a workbench. This project is awesome. The system is very rugged, goes together very easily, and makes the most of the space. Best of all, the local home center was having a sale on 3/4 inch plywood and I was able to do all of this for less than $250 including the construction screws, which are not cheap. Definitely a great project. The tip about painting everything in advance saves a ton of time.

August 04, 6:06 AM [GMT -5]

I have a copy of the mag in front of me, heres the material list:
Two 8 ft 1x2
Eight 8 ft 2x2
Two 4x8x 3/4 bc plywood sheets
Masking tape and screws: 1 1/2, 2 1/2, and 5"

July 30, 1:31 PM [GMT -5]

Does anybody have the actual material list and any sort of specs for this project?
All it says now is have a drill, tape measure and square. There is no lumber of any type listed under the materials (says see Additional Information - However there is NO additional information).

The steps are a little too simple - Mark, cut, assemble. Any possibility of a little more detail? like measurements? screws? nails? glue? Even a simple diagram would be helpful.

Apparently this project had something listed before that has been removed. It is impossible to follow. Unfortunately, I have just moved and eliminated all my old copies of my subscription.

June 28, 1:29 PM [GMT -5]

Hi - I'm not finding the list of materials where it says there will be one. Wondering the size, length, type of screw, etc.



March 18, 11:50 AM [GMT -5]

I built this over a few days of Spring Break, it was my very first project. It didn't turn out exactly like it should have, but it works wonderfully, I can see my garage now! I learned alot and I enjoyed accomplishing something useful. Now i'm off to find another project.

December 28, 7:17 PM [GMT -5]

I modified the plans to suit my needs as well. I am lucky enough to have ten foot ceilings in my garage, so I made my first shelf 48 inches off the ground. I then made two more shelves, each one 21 inches in height. So far, I've only made one shelving unit, but I plan on making another eight foot section in a day or two. I do have to say that having an extra set of hands made this very easy. Also, I used 2x4's everywhere instead of 2x2's in some sections; I figured the sturdier the better. This was an awesome article! Thanks Family Handyman!!

December 12, 12:29 PM [GMT -5]

I plan on doing this soon, slightly modified, but overall same impact. Great article.

December 11, 3:15 PM [GMT -5]

@MisterMajik - it seems to me that the studs in the wall would be turned a different way then the 2x4's in the original project, but it would still be structurally sound. Of course, you would lose the ability to finish that part of the wall in the garage if you ever wanted to go back and do that. Also, it is a lot easier to put the shelf together if you are out in the open, your plan would negate this. Personally, the trade-offs would not be worth the minor savings, but if they are for you, then I say go for it.

December 11, 3:10 PM [GMT -5]

I've seen a lot of comments about wanting the plans for the workbench. I have not done the workbench myself, but it would seem to me that all you would need to do is to is take out the top 2 shelves, cut the front frame down so it is only up to the second shelf, and then hang some peg board on it. The areas for the bins below can be customized to whatever size you need. I plan to do the workbench when I build another set of these shelves.

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