Picture of Build Easy Free Standing Shelving Unit For Basement or Garage

Moving into a new house, we need quite a few shelving units to store stuff. We don’t have a finished basement, and we haven’t figured out how it would be finished yet, so we need some free standing shelving units that are not attached to the wall, and also have some options to move around later on.

Another reason for the free standing units was because of the flexibility. The storage section of a finished basement is normally not all completed with drywall, part of it will be concrete so it’s a bit difficult to attach something onto.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

(6) 2x4x12' Beams
(6) 2x4x7" Vertical supports
(3) 2x4x10' Frame pieces
(2) full sheet 4'x8' 3/8" plywood, plus additional 2'x4' piece (or you can use 1/2' OSB) cut to 2'x8' (actually they will be 23 7/8" x 8') Shelving surface material
3" drywall screws or 3" nails
Some 1 1/4" drywall screws

Drill or impact driver
Tape measure
A pencil
Speed square
A hand saw or miter saw / circular saw

The picture is showing my folding sawhorse in use of holding a bunch of 2x materials to make this shelving unit.

Can anyone provide an estimate material cost?
Thanks heaps

I went to Lowe's website, and plugged all the items into my Shopping Cart. Shows the cost, tax, etc. AND, if you really DO have a Lowe's nearby, you can pay for the stuff online, too.

Jzbowmannz (author)  DigitalRambler2 years ago
For this specific unit, it will use (6) 2x4x7', (6) 2x4x12', 2 and 1/4 sheet of 3/8" plywood, and (3) 2x4x10'. I had some 2x4 left over to use in place of the (3) 2x4x10', so I ended up spent less than $70. If you buy everything from home center, it could be close to $100 with the price of the lumber right now.
rupe33 made it!7 months ago

Ended up making mine using 4x6 plywood ripped in half to match the 12' drawings. My wife was skeptical until she saw the finished product, whereupon she immediately asked for another set on the opposite wall. Was feeling most triumphant at the accomplishment until actually loading them... and realizing we really do need more shelves! :)

tfayyad7 months ago

Nice, simple, and sturdy design. If you follow this design exactly, be aware that 2 sheets of plywood is *not* enough to cover all the shelves. You will need an additional piece 2'x4'.

I had to make adjustments to the height of the shelves because my garage has a 7' roof

rupe3310 months ago

Two questions as I set about making these for our basement:

1) I think there's a typo in the Materials potion: vertical supports should be 7' high (not 7")?

2) Big Q: if you rip the plywood to be 2'x8'... how does that cover the shelves which appear to be 12' long? You'd end up with 16' of shelf that's 2' wide. (Should you use 4'x6' plywood ripped in half?)

tfayyad rupe337 months ago

Yup. the list does not have enough plywood. 36' of shelving and only 32' would come from 2 sheets. I didn't catch that till after I was back home with the supplies. I was able to patch things up with some scrap plywood I previously had

ro45 made it!7 months ago

Thanks for the great instructions. I made my shelves with only a few changes. On one end, I cut the beams (and plywood) at an angle to allow more room when carrying large items into the basement since the shelves are located near a door. I also had to frame around a radon mitigation pipe. Thanks again!

Jzbowmannz (author)  ro457 months ago
Looks great! Thanks for the pictures!
Brooklyntonia made it!11 months ago

I made my own version of your garage shelves and used your ible for inspiration. Thanks!


garage shelves icon.jpg
russ_hensel2 years ago
Nice, but I would consider a couple of changes that I think would make it even better..
Instead of 2 x 4's I would use 2 x 2 which are just 2 x 4's cut in half the long way. Still
plenty of strength, but saves money and is less clunky, I have built a bunch this way with good results.
Add some diagonal elements, this stops the shelves from "racking".
A detail picture from a unit of mine shows both elements.
Jzbowmannz (author)  russ_hensel2 years ago
Thanks for your improvement ideas and comment, russ_hensel.
great job on the shelves and the instructible
Jzbowmannz (author)  EnergyHandyman2 years ago
useraaaaa2 years ago
i re-used old laminate leftovers to make shelves
StoryAddict2 years ago
This is pretty much the design my father used to build a bookcase for my first apartment (it was dismantled and replanted in my home, then taken part in pieces and reassembled when I moved again a year later...with some modifications). The structure is more or less the same, save that there were sides and a back and additional decorative pieces attached on the front of the shelves to give a uniform front even while stained/painted for a nice two-tone color. He only had basic measurements to go by since it was conceived and constructed from four hours away, but it fit well enough. Customizing it for its current location to go around a large beam in the ceiling was fun (*sarcasm*). But the basic structure is incredibly sturdy and holds a lot of weight.
Jzbowmannz (author)  StoryAddict2 years ago
Thanks for the comment, StoryAddict.
Yes, I agree, the basic structure is very strong. I learned this basic form from an old builder, as an engineer, I modified it to be more efficient in support. Also, I used plywood instead of OSB, I think plywood would hold them together better.
There is room for improvement - by using construction adhesive at each joint will make it even stronger if it's build for heavy duty application, for my basement, this is plenty sturdy.
wirenut19802 years ago
Just what i was looking for to organize my garage. Great instructions!