DIY Garage Storage: Learn How to Build Garage Shelves Like a Pro

Simple storage shelves and plastic bins transform this garage—instantly!

Next Project

A full day






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.

Tools Required

  • Cordless drill
  • Framing square
  • Tape measure

Materials Required

  • 4' x 8' x 3/4" BC plywood sheets (2)
  • 7' 2x4s (8)
  • 8' 1x2s (2)
  • 8' 2x2s (8)
  • Construction screws
  • Masking tape

How to Build Garage Shelves Overview

Joe is the set carpenter for 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 DIY garage shelves that could hold plastic storage bins. He built these wooden garage shelves 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.). Before Joe’s garage organization project

building garage shelvesFamily Handyman

Think about how you’d like to identify the contents of each storage bin. Some people use adhesive labels or write with markers directly on the bins. The best system lets you make changes easily. We like the adhesive storage pouches that come with cardboard inserts (or you can just use index cards). Changing the label is as easy as slipping a new card into the pouch.

Need more storage places? learn how to DIY garage cabinets.

Wooden Garage Shelves Project Plans

Wooden Garage Shelves Project PlansFamily Handyman

Project step-by-step (6)

Step 1

Mark the frame parts for quick assembly

Building Garage Shelves Frame PartFamily Handyman

To start building storage shelves, first cut all your frame parts to length. Then mark where the rails are going to be screwed to each leg. Do the same thing to the 2x2s. This makes the whole project go together in a snap.

Step 2

Assemble the frames

Assemble the Garage Shelves framesFamily Handyman

Working on top of a sheet of plywood helps keep each frame squared up. Use the edges of the plywood to line up and adjust things as you screw the frame together. It also really helps to pick the straightest lumber possible when you’re shopping.

Step 3

Install the shelves

Installing the Garage shelvesFamily Handyman

Installing the DIY garage shelves in each frame is a lot easier if you have a helper to hold the frames. If you’re working alone, lean one of the frames of the wooden garage shelves against the wall and hold up the other frame while you screw the first shelf into place. Next, check out 51 brilliant ways to organize your garage here.

Step 4

Fasten the unit to the wall

Fasten Unit Into WallFamily Handyman

Screw each wooden garage shelves unit to the wall through the top rail using construction screws (GRK is one brand) spaced every second or third stud. This shelf unit is really sturdy. But make it ultra secure by screwing the units together through the front legs. Shim the legs if your floor is sloped or uneven.

Step 5

Install the middle cleats for the sliding bins

Installing the middle cleats for the sliding binsFamily Handyman

To avoid stacking the small bins on top of one another, hang the top bins from cleats. Installing the cleats goes really fast if you start your screws in each cleat first and then use a spacer to mark the cleat’s location as you screw it on.

Step 6

Joe’s Tips

Garage Storage BoxFamily Handyman

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.