Heavy-duty utility shelves
Store-bought shelving units are either hard to assemble and flimsy
or awfully expensive. Here's a better solution. These shelves are
strong and easy to build and don't cost much. We sized this sturdy
shelf unit to hold standard records storage boxes. If you want
deeper storage, build the shelves 24 in. deep and buy 24-in.-deep
boxes. If you prefer to use plastic storage bins, measure the size
of the containers and modify the shelf and upright spacing to fit.
Refer to the dimensions below to mark the location of the horizontal
2x2 on the back of four 2x4s. Also mark the position of
the 2x4 uprights on the 2x2s. Then simply line up the marks and
screw the 2x2s to the 2x4s with pairs of 2-1/2-in. wood screws. Be
sure to keep the 2x2s and 2x4s at right angles. Rip a 4 x 8-ft. sheet
of 1/2-in. MDF, plywood or OSB into 16-in.-wide strips and
screw it to the 2x2s to connect the two frames and form the
If you choose plastic bins rather than
cardboard boxes, label the
plastic with a wet-erase marker. When
it's time to relabel the bin, just wipe
away the marks with a damp rag.
When you can't find a convenient
nook for a set of shelves,
you can often create one by
recessing the shelves into the
wall itself. Choose the location
before you build the project to
make sure it will fit. Start by
looking for a space with no
obvious obstructions. Locate
the studs with a stud finder.
Some stud finders can also
locate electrical wires and
plumbing pipes inside walls.
When you've found a promising
spot, cut a 6-in.-square inspection
hole between the studs. Use
a flashlight and a small mirror
to inspect the stud cavity for
obstructions. You often can
modify the size of the cabinet to
When you find a good space,
mark the perimeter of the opening
and use a drywall keyhole
saw to cut it out. Measure the
opening and subtract 1/4 in.
from the height and width to
determine the outer dimensions
of your cabinet.
For standard 2x4 stud walls
with 1/2-in.-thick drywall, build
the cabinet frame from 1x4s
that measure 3-1/2 in. wide (see
illustration). If your walls are
different, adjust the depth of the
frame accordingly. Then add a
1/4-in. back. We screwed 1/4-in.
pegboard to the back so we
could hang stuff from pegboard
Add casing that matches the
trim in your house. Drill holes
into the sides to accept shelf
supports. Shelf supports fit in
3mm, 5mm or 1/4-in. holes
depending on the style.
Install the cabinet by slipping
it into the opening, leveling it
and nailing through the trim
into the studs on each side. Use
6d finish nails placed every 12
in. along both sides.
Don't want to cut your walls open? Unfinished wall framing in a basement or
garage also makes ideal storage space for
narrow items like cleaning supplies
or small boxes of nails and screws.
Simply cut 2x4s to fit between the
studs and toe-screw them in to form
The space behind a door is another storage
spot that's often overlooked. Build a set of
shallow shelves and mount it to the wall.
The materials are inexpensive. Measure the
distance between the door hinge and the
wall and subtract an inch. This is the maximum
depth of the shelves. We used 1x4s
for the sides, top and shelves. Screw the
sides to the top. Then screw three 1x2
hanging strips to the sides: one top and
bottom and one centered. Nail metal shelf
standards to the sides. Complete the
shelves by nailing a 1x2 trim piece to the
sides and top. The 1x2 dresses up the shelf
unit and keeps the shelves from falling off
the shelf clips.
Locate the studs. Drill clearance holes
and screw the shelves to the studs with
2-1/2-in. wood screws. Put a rubber
bumper on the frame to protect the door.
Don't waste all that space between
joists in a basement or garage. Screw
wire shelving to the underside of the
joists. Use a standard 8-ft. x 16-in. length of wire
shelving and a pack of plastic clips, or have it cut to length at the home center.
Closet nook shelves
Salvage the hidden space at the recessed
ends of your closets by adding a set of
shelves. Wire shelves are available in a
variety of widths. Measure the width and
depth of the space. Then choose the correct
shelving and ask the salesperson to
cut the shelves to length for you. Subtract
3/8 in. from the actual width to determine
the shelf length. Buy a pair of end
mounting brackets and a pair of plastic
clips for each shelf.
Shoe-storage booster stool
Build this handy stool in one hour
and park it in your closet. You can
also use it as a step to reach the high
shelf. All you need is a 4x4 sheet of
3/4-in. plywood, wood glue and a
handful of 8d finish nails. Cut the
plywood pieces according to the
illustration. Spread wood glue on
the joints, then nail them together
with 8d finish nails. First nail
through the sides into
the back. Then nail
through the top into
the sides and back.
Finally, mark the
location of the two
shelves and nail
through the sides
into the shelves.
Stacked recycling tower
Five plastic containers, six 2x2s and screws,
and one hour's work are all it takes to put
together this space-saving recycling storage
rack. Our frame fits containers that have a
top that measures 14-1/2 in. x 10 in. and are
15 in. tall.
If you use different-size containers, adjust
the distance between the uprights so the
2x2s will catch the lip of the container. Then
adjust the spacing of the horizontal rungs
for a snug fit when the container is angled as
Start by cutting the 2x2s to length according
to the illustration. Then mark the position
of the rungs on the uprights. Drill two
5/32-in. holes through the uprights at each
crosspiece position. Drill from the outside to
the inside and angle the holes inward slightly
to prevent the screws from breaking out
the side of the rungs.
Drive 2-1/2-in. screws through the
uprights into the rungs. Assemble the front
and back frames. Then connect them with
the side crosspieces.
Sandwich-bag parts organizer
Keep screws, connectors, nails and other small parts
in sight and handy with this resealable bag holder. You
can build it out of a 3/4-in.-thick scrap of plywood.
Start by cutting two pieces of plywood as shown.
Draw lines 1 in. apart across the shorter piece with a
square, stopping 1 in. from the edge. Now cut along
the lines with a jigsaw. Screw the two pieces of plywood
together and screw the unit to the wall. Fill
resealable bags and slip them into the slots.
Two-story closet shelves
There's a lot of space above the shelf in most closets. Even though it's a
little hard to reach, it's a great place to store seldom-used items. Make
use of this wasted space by adding a second shelf above the existing
one. Buy enough closet shelving material to match the length of the
existing shelf plus enough for two end supports and middle supports
over each bracket. Twelve-inch-wide shelving is available in various lengths and finishes at home centers and lumberyards. We cut the supports 16 in. long, but you can place the second
shelf at whatever height you like. Screw the end supports to the
walls at each end. Use drywall anchors if you can't hit a stud. Then
mark the position of the middle supports onto the top and bottom
shelves with a square and drill 5/32-in. clearance holes through the
shelves. Drive 1-5/8-in. screws through the shelf into the supports.
The back of a door that opens into a utility room or
closet makes a handy hanging space. The trouble is
that most doors don't offer a good mounting surface
for hardware. The solution is to screw a piece of
3/4-in. plywood to the back of the door. Add construction
adhesive for hollow-core doors. Cut the
plywood 3 or 4 in. shy of the door edges to avoid conflicts
with the doorknob or hinges. Now you can
mount as many hooks, magnets and other storage
gizmos as you like.
Double-decker closet rod
All you need to gain a lot of hanging
space in your closet is two
metal closet brackets and a length
of closet rod. If your existing closet
rod is at least 66 in. from the
floor, there's enough space to add a
second rod below it and still hang
shirts and slacks. We placed the
top of the rod 35 in. from the floor,
which allowed just enough room
to hang two levels of pants.
Locate studs on the back wall of
the closet with a stud finder. Then
attach metal brackets to the studs.
Use a level to align the brackets
along the top. Space the brackets
no more than 32 in. apart.
Back to Top
Glass shower shelf
Tired of the clutter of shampoo and conditioner bottles
along the rim of your tub? This tempered safety glass shelf
on a cable shelf bracket is an easy solution. The cable shelf
bracket requires only two screws for support. If studs aren't
located in the right positions, use toggle bolts to anchor the
shelf brackets. The glass hangs on the cables. The cable shelf
brackets are available online from expodesigninc.com. Order a tempered glass shelf
from a local glass company. We used a 3/8-in.-thick, 12-in.-deep