Planning and materials
This storage system solves two challenges: first, how to design
storage space for the narrow alley between the garage side
wall and the family car; and second, how to create a solid
mounting surface to hold shelves and hooks that are capable of carrying
hundreds of pounds of stuff.
The solution is to create a framework of horizontal wood strips and
inexpensive shelf standards. It can hold almost any arrangement of
shelving and hooks, at any point on the wall, and it's easy to rearrange.
Pull your car into the garage and measure how much space is available.
Then look over what you need to store and figure out where it
will fit. Generally it's best to hang narrow shelves and smaller hooks
lower where space is tight, with wider shelves up near the ceiling so
you don't bump your head or interfere with car doors.
Planning the layout and buying materials can take a few hours, but
you can do the actual installation, including ripping the plywood
shelves and strips, in less than a day. Put up horizontal strips even if
you have exposed studs or block walls—they'll make it much easier to
install shelf standards and hooks. Apply finish to the strips and
shelves, if desired, before installing them.
We used 3-1/2-in.-wide strips of 3/4-in. plywood for the strips
because plywood is always straight and never splits—but pine 1x4s
also work. Birch plywood was our choice for the strips and shelves, but you can also use less expensive BC plywood. You can rip 12 strips from
one 4 x 8-ft. sheet—that's enough for an average wall. We used four sheets of plywood
for our system. For shelf edging, we used 1-1/2-in.-wide strips of solid
birch (Photo 6). The total cost for our 20-ft.-long system was about $500,
but you could cut that cost in half by skipping the fold-down workbench
(Photo 5) and using less-expensive wood and plywood.
Inexpensive and Easy...Fast and Versatile, too!
Fasten the plywood strips to the studs, then add the shelf standards, hook and holders, storage bins and anything else that fits.
- Plywood strips
- Shelf standards
- Lumber rack
- Solid wood edging
(See Photos 1 - 6 below for more information)
Install the strips and standards
Locate studs using a stud finder and
mark them with masking tape, then
draw a level line 3 ft. above the garage
floor. Start at the center of the wall
with a 4-ft. level and work to each side.
Garage floors often slope, so don't simply
measure from the floor to establish
the line. Set the first strip above the
level line, screwing it to every stud with
two 2-1/2-in. screws (Photo 1). Space
the remaining strips so they line up
with the screw holes on the standards
you use—ours were 22 in. from center
Screw on the first standard with
1-5/8-in. screws. Install the other standards,
spacing them no more than 24
in. apart—less if you have lots of heavy
boxes to store.
Customize the system to fit your needs
Attach pegboard, different widths and
lengths of shelving, a workbench, a
lumber and pipe rack, and any other type
of storage you need (Photos 3 - 5).
Use a table saw or circular saw to rip
shelving 1/2 in. wider than the depth
of the shelf bracket. Use 3/4-in.-thick
plywood or solid wood for the shelves—it's stronger and resists sagging better
than any particleboard shelving product
If you want to make the shelves
more rigid as well as more attractive,
nail on 1x2 front edges (Photo 6). Use
an air nailer or predrill if hand nailing.
Finally, line up the shelves and attach
them to the brackets from underneath
with screws 1/2 in. longer than the
depth of the bracket.
Back to Top
Hooks, hangers and brackets—for everything and anything
Home centers and hardware stores sell a
wide variety of products for storing almost
anything. You can also install wire rack
shelving or special wire baskets on doubleslot
shelf standards. You can usually mix
shelf brackets and accessories from different
manufacturers—but check the fit, if
possible, before buying. Shelf standards,
however, are not interchangeable, as slots
and screw holes don't always line up.
Avoid getting locked into one garage
system or brand—it's often cheaper to use
a variety rather than just the special