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Our kitchen was getting too cluttered with not enough counter-space, so I decided to make some cheap heavy duty storage shelves.

Total cost was around $55 not including tools. Each of the 4 shelves are 21"x 45" and the assembled structure stands 78" tall.
 
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Step 1: Materials & Tools

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                     I got all necessary materials at Home Depot. Luckily, my local Home Depot cuts all lumber for free which significantly cut down on the total cost of this build. Some lumber yards charge up to 50 cents per cut, so that would have gotten expensive very quickly. I certainly had the capability to cut my own wood, but it is just so much faster and easier to transport in a sub-compact if you get the store to cut it for you.

Materials:
10 * 8'    2 x 4's @ $2.59 each  = $26
1 *  4' x 8'   sheet of 1/2" thick plywood = $20-$30
80 * 2.5" exterior screws = $5 (just buy a 1 lb box)
1" finishing nails

Tools:
Pen
Power drill
Set of drill bits
Level
Measuring tape
Hammer
Clamps (optional)




 

Step 2: Cutting the Lumber

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You are starting with 10  2 x 4's and one 4' x 8' section of 1/2" plywood. 

The plywood will go on to become the shelves, so it will need to be cut to dimensions of 21" x 45". You will need 3 of these sheets and one sheet of 21" x 48" for the top shelf.

4' x 8' plywood --> 3 * 21" x 45" plywood + 1* 21" x 48" plywood

Each shelf consists of two 4' boards with three 18" boards sandwiched between them. These shelves rest on four vertical 78" boards.

Four boards should be cut at 18" --> 4 * 78" boards + 4 * 18" boards
Four boards should be cut at 48" --> 8 * 48" boards
The remaining two boards should be cut into 18" sections until the total number of 18" sections is 12.

Step 3: Measure

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Line up all four 78" sections and mark off lines at the point where you want your shelves to lie. 

Measuring is the most important step, so make sure you are accurate or else the shelf will not be level.

Each shelf height is up to you, but my suggested measurements can be seen in the image.

Step 4: Build a ladder

Line up an 18" section with your line, ensure it is square.

Pre-drill 2 holes with a drill bit only slightly smaller than the diameter of your screws. This is necessary to keep the wood from splitting when you insert the screws.

Screw the two pieces of wood together. 

Wash, rinse, and repeat until you basically have a ladder, then build another ladder which will make up the other side of the shelf.

Step 5: Start on the shelves

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The first part of making the actual shelves involves attaching a cross-beam to four of the 4' sections exactly in the middle. There's no good way to do this, but the best way I could figure out was to place both boards on a flat table, lined up the best I could, then attach then with screws - taking care to pre-drill holes.

Step 6: Putting it all together part 1

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Now you have all the pieces you need to attach everything together.

Lay both ladders on their sides with the 18" segments on the insides, then lay the cross-beams built in the last step across the ladders where the 18" segments attach.

Make sure everything is square, then start screwing everything together (after pre-drilling holes) with 2 screws per joint to prevent rotation.

Step 7: Putting it all together part 2

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Now that you have the rough shape of the storage shelves, all that needs to be done is to flip it over and attach the four remaining 4' boards to the other side.

Make sure to secure the remaining boards to the cross-beams as well.

You may need straps to hold the sides in as you secure the final boards.

Step 8: Attaching plywood

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Use finishing nails to tack on the plywood sheets to the shelves.

Because this thing was so tall, I did the top shelf while it was laying down, then flipped it up to attach the remaining pieces of plywood.

REMEMBER: the top piece of plywood is the largest piece because it over-hangs the supporting studs.

Additionally, once you raise your shelves upright, make sure to check to make sure they are level,

Step 9: Finishing touches

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Move your shelves into position and add any finishing touches you want, like wood-stain, polyurethane, paint, or kitchen appliances.

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mjupiter1 made it!5 months ago
6' long and 28" wide 6' high. and plus since my fiance does hairstyling, i put a board on the inside of one end and created an open cabinet for her hair products, with room for adding more 2x4 shelves.
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just added to the side.
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mralex421 year ago

nevermind, I forgot about the two from the 78" boards

mralex421 year ago

How would you cut 2 x 10ft board into 12 x 18' sections? math doesnt add up there..

About to make a similar set of shelves 2ft by 4ft, but with 2x3's and OSB with wheels for the garage. Check out the way this guy does his screws on his shelves with templates(a little OCD) but very secure looking.

http://davewirth.blogspot.com/2013/01/storage-shelf-for-basement.html

Leafsicle made it!1 year ago

Sturdy as all get out and it was a great first project!

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Nice drill. Exact same one I have, so we must both be cool.
This is a project I am probably going to undertake on my day off, glad I found it!

Also, could you offer some advice on anchoring this? I have kids who will climb and I don't want them to have this tip over on top of them.
drcj (author)  xiutehcuhtli1 year ago
Theres plenty of room on the undersides of the shelves to use some woodscrews to anchor the top shelf into some studs in your wall. Good luck!
Drcj, I just today completed a set of shelves based upon this instructable.  I used wood on hand (1x2s) for the side and center supports and 2x4s for the rest of the structure.  I also departed from your plans, making a 5-shelf unit instead of the 4-shelf unit featured.

As a novice woodworker, here are some things I've learned in the process of doing this project -
(1) You can never have enough clamps!
(2) Take the time to line up everything square and level, especially when assembling the two side "ladders."  I didn't , and had to re-attach 8 of the 10 side supports.

The unit looks great at our hackerspace.  It's already full of stuff!  I'll need to make another set.
drcj (author)  Otto von Korbecke1 year ago
That's great! could you upload some pictures of your take on the design?


Let's see if I did this right.  The first two images are of the completed shelves.  The third is of the shelves in use.  Around here it filled up fast.
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Oh, I forgot to tell you that I altered the dimensions a bit. The depth was changed from 18" to 23", and the width shortened from 48" to 44". This to accommodate the wood I had on hand, and not out of any engineering or design considerations.
drcj (author)  Otto von Korbecke1 year ago
Very cool! It looks amazing. Good job, I hope they last
Perfect timing. I'm going to build some shelving for between our two garage doors. Now I can use your plans!! Thanks!
FWIW, my cat lays like that too. She also likes to lay on her back with all four legs in the air.
If I could lend some advice. I build some for my garage. Garage floors usually have some slope to them so that water will drain out. If you build them free standing and move them in place they could be sitting off kilter. I nailed a board on the wall level, set my shelf on it, then nailed the legs on.
drcj (author)  songbirdfeeder2 years ago
I'm glad to know my cats aren't the only weird ones. Good luck with your shelves!
drwebster2 years ago
great!
Geedox2 years ago
A great way to "dispose" of some packing cases and odd lumber laying around! Keep it up! BTW: We have a Cat that loves to lay just like yours!
smalcolm2 years ago
Your cat lays like a corgi LOL.
trevormac2 years ago
not exactly a work of art but what the hell,it does a job.Congratulations
trevormac2 years ago
The Craftsman's Rule; measure twice,cut once
chuckyd2 years ago
While the shelves are attractive and sturdy, I have a few suggestions:

1. Use 1 x 4 trim, instead of the framing lumber. The 1 x 4 will carry as much load on the shelves as the 2 x 4, and present a more finished look.

2. Use a finhish grade plywood, instead of the framing plywood. The surface will be smoother and easier to keep clean.

3. The edges of the plywood need to be protected, to prevent creatures from growing within the plys, and to avoid the inevitable splintering along the edges.

4. Finally, the wood needs to be protected with several coats of water resistant finish, such as polyurethane. Not only does this protect the wood and prevent mold growth, it makes clean up a snap.
kewrw282 years ago
This is one heavy duty group of shelving! I think it will withstand a TANK driving over the top of them. Good Job.
jwebsd2 years ago
Excellent job and instructions! Thanks
drcj (author)  jwebsd2 years ago
Why thank you!
criggie2 years ago
Thoughts - no cross brace anywhere - what stops it rhombusing ?

Is it screwed to the wall - think earthquakes.

Since this is in your kitchen and holding food and equipment, untreated timber is a must. A layer of varnish or something to protect the wood from water and cooking oils and cooking smell would be good.

You MUST not use pallet wood for something like this - that stuff could have any sort of insecticide or anything on it - fine for outside but not in the kitchen.

And something on the bottom of the studs to protect the floor covering? a scrap of lino folded up the sides and screwed on would be ideal. Carpet scraps will get wet when you wash the floor so not suitable.
drcj (author)  criggie2 years ago
The shelves are actually fairly stable in the left-right direction due to the way the joints are screwed together. Additionally, I currently have them wedged between one wall on the left and the door-frame on the right which prevents any movement. if I had these as standalone shelves though, I would either add a cross-brace (which would interfere with the open design) or reinforce the joints with some metal plating.

I have scrap cardboard on the bottom to protect the floors. I am hoping to protect the wood with some type of finish soon, but I currently have no time.
jwhyman2 years ago
I made kitchen shelves using oak pallet wood, which was free. Only problem was the time it took to get the nails out.
criggie jwhyman2 years ago
Pallets can have all manner of chemicals in them - not recommended near your food or kitchen. They're fine for outside though.

Did you consider a protective layer of varnish to keep the nasties enclosed?
crkalino2 years ago
Not bad! Functional, durable and cheap! It could be made very attractive with another hour or two and some stain!
zawy2 years ago
You can get a same-sized steel-frame shelving from a big box store for about the same price, but I like wood. As another commenter said, I would use 1x2's for the under supports. It gives 2" more headroom for each shelf and comes out a lot lighter. The design looks like it will be flimsy in the left-right directions because there is no back-plane like in a book shelf. Even the front-back plane looks like it needs two 45 degree cross brace. Again, I would use 1x2's for the 4 extra cross-braces. The 3 2x4s under each shelf in the front back direction are giving this design some of that support I am saying appears missing.
ddw_az2 years ago
these are my 2 cats. Tigger & Nuisance. Nuisance lives up to his name.
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JoshHawley2 years ago
That is a really good, and simple way to ensure evenness!
JoshHawley2 years ago
A "T" square would be handy here.
Wantashi Na2 years ago
Well, done and sturdy too
ballegre2 years ago
You can probably get big-box store to rip cut the 2x4s or use circular saw rip fence.
Shadow3512 years ago
This is very similar to the shelves I built for my parents and my sheds. I used 2"x3"s as they were a bit cheaper and plenty strong enough for our application. And yes, that is exactly how my cat lays, always thought it was strange
Kenoo22 years ago
Perfect utilitarian shelves. They're more than up to the task. I made similar ones with off-the-shelf furring strips. With all the connections and a diagonal brace in the back, they were also super strong with a "lighter" look to them. I made several sets and the wife keeps buying more useless stuff I need to store...
russ_hensel2 years ago
I used to build shelves pretty much like that but found that they were somewhat over built. Now I usually rip the 2x4's into thirds. Still very strong. I also add some diagonal elements to stop the shelves from racking. These are usually in the back and sides. Just a suggestion, no problem with the way you have built yours. Nice execution.
drcj (author)  russ_hensel2 years ago
How did you rip 2x4's into thirds? That seems difficult.
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