How to Build Shelves for Your Basement

Updated: Jul. 01, 2024

Construct this simple shelving unit and get your basement organized in no time.

Next Project
Time

A full day

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

$100 - $150

Introduction

Construct this simple shelving unit and get your basement organized in no time.

Tools Required

  • 1-1/2” Construction screws
  • 3” Construction screws
  • Table saw or Circular saw

Materials Required

  • 1 – 1/2” x 4’ x 8’ plywood
  • 14 - 2x4x8'

Introduction

For an unfinished basement where all you need is functional shelving, this unit works nicely. It’s sturdy, made from readily available materials and cuts up efficiently using 8-ft. 2×4’s and a 4×8 sheet of 1/2-inch plywood.

You can save a little money by buying exterior grade plywood. But I find it’s often warped in at least one direction, making it difficult to work with. I’ll gladly pay an extra $10-$15 for a flat sheet. The materials list makes one six-shelf unit.

Cutting List

Overall dimensions: 96-in. H x 51-in. W x 16-in. D

KEY QTY. PART DIMENSIONS
A 12 Long frame members 1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ x 48″
B 24 Short frame members 1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ x 13″
C 4 Uprights 1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ x 96″
D 6 Shelf surface 1/2″ x 48″ x 16″

Project step-by-step (4)

Step 1

Make the Shelf Frames

Cut the long (A) and short frame members (B) to length. Assemble them as shown with three-inch construction screws. Drive two screws at each joint. Be sure to pre-drill pilot holes in the long frame members.

How To Build Shelves For Your Basement Step 1Family Handyman

Step 2

Attach the Shelf Frames

Attach the assembled frames to the uprights (C). I spaced my frames 14-1/2-in. apart, but you can use whatever spacing suits the items you’re storing. Fasten the frames by driving three-inch construction screws through the uprights into the shelving.

How To Build Shelves For Your Basement Step 2Family Handyman

Step 3

Add the Plywood

Cut the shelf surfaces (D) to final dimension. Attach the shelf surfaces to the frames with 1-1/2-in. construction screws. You can skip the screws, but I like the added rigidity. The screws also hold the plywood flat.

How To Build Shelves For Your Basement Step 3Family Handyman

Step 4

Fasten to the Wall

To make the unit rigid and safe, find your wall studs and drive a few three-inch construction screws through the frame and into the studs.

How To Build Shelves For Your Basement Step 4Family Handyman