Instructables

Hanging wire shelving

Picture of Hanging wire shelving
When I moved into my house I was thrilled with the storage space in the basement. However, when it came time to decide on storage shelving, I didn't have much money so pre-made units were out.

I knew there would be a lot of bugs and dust, so I didn't want to build wooden shelving because dead bugs and dust build up on them.

I really liked the 12-inch white wire shelving that you could buy in 12 foot lengths for about $14, but with concrete walls it'd be a real pain to hang, plus the mounting brackets cost far more than the shelving itself.

What I finally came up with was to buy a roll of #3 white vinyl-coated utility chain (currently selling at around 60 cents/ft) and hang the wire shelving with lengths of chain attached to the floor joists above. The chain has a 90 lb. working load limit so as long as you don't exceed 90 lbs loading at any one attachment point you're golden.

It's worked out great! I outfitted my entire huge basement with this stuff. I have 216 linear feet in my basement loaded with everything from Christmas decorations to hobby gear to car parts to tools.

It's relatively inexpensive, easy to hang wherever you want, easily reconfigurable for different heights and lengths, and bugs & dust just fall through to the floor where you can easily clean it up.

Materials:
> Wire shelving in lengths according to the amount of shelving you want. Least expensive is to buy 12' lengths and cut with hacksaw. Be sure to put protective end caps on, or wrap with tape. The edges can be sharp!

> End caps - very cheap, found next to the shelves in the store.

> Chain. I used about 6 feet of chain for every attachment point and placed a support chain about every 4 feet.

> S-hooks
I used 3/4" s-hooks to hold the shelving to the chain and wasn't able to find load info on the s-hooks, but so far I've never had a problem, and I've had some pretty heavy stuff on these shelves.
Much less expensive to buy a box of them unless you're going to make a very small shelved area.

> Wood screws - 1 per chain required. Be sure to use screws (or nails) strong enough to take your anticipated loads. Eye bolts could be used in place of screws or nails, but while it would be prettier, it would also cost significantly more and add no more strength.

Tools:
> Tape Measure
> Pliers
> Screwdriver
> Ladder

Are you planning to store something heavy like book boxes, or light like glass Christmas ornaments?

For heavy stuff you'll want to use more chains, spaced closer together.

The chain I used is rated for a 90-lb load. That means that theoretically the shelving could be loaded at 360 lbs on any one section between 4 attachment points - but that doesn't account for loading on adjacent sections. In real life you'll never get anywhere close to even half that unless you're planning to store your gold ingot collection, in which case I suggest you cut a corner off one and use it to buy some really heavy shelving...

Determine shelf spacing and how many rows of shelves you want

Again - what are you storing?

I was planning to use 17h x 12w x 24d plastic storage boxes so I made the vertical distance between shelves about 24 inches, which allowed for 3 rows of shelves with 6 inches clearance above each box.

I cut the chain into 6' lengths and then hung each with a single wood screw from the rafters.

I attached each about 2" from the edge of the rafters, spaced in pairs about 16" apart since I was using 12" deep shelving. Spacing them wider than the depth of the shelving helps to minimizes fore & aft swaying when you're stacking things on the shelves.

I also hung the chains so that the finished shelves would hang about 6 inches from the walls. This keeps stuff on the shelves from touching the walls so bugs are less likely to get on them, and also allows slightly oversized stuff to be stored.

*** Be sure to place the screws/nails far enough from the edge of the wood that it won't break out the wood since you're pulling across the grain - at least a couple of inches. ***

Cut your shelving to the desired lengths and install the end caps, or wrap them in tape, or whatever you decide to do. In my case I didn't even need to cut them, I just used the full 12 feet and put the end caps on.

Measure down from the rafters according to the horizontal spacing you want and attach s-hooks to the chains, crimping them with pliers so they don't un-hook and drop your stuff on the floor.

Before hanging the shelving you have a decision to make - do you want a lip?

The wire shelving has a 1-1/2" lip formed into it for strength. Normally this would go at the front and underneath the shelf.

However, you can do what you want with it. You can have the lip pointing up and use it to keep stuff from sliding out the back of the shelving, or at the front to keep it from sliding forward.

In my case I didn't want it interfering with sliding at all and just mounted it normally.

Start at one upper rear corner and attach an s-hook to the rearmost heavy wire on the shelving.

*** Crimp the s-hooks around the wire with pliers! ***

Go to the far end and attach it the same way. Be sure to attach them so that the shelf is hanging level.

Now go along the attach points in between and attach them.

You may notice a slight bit of slack here and there, and in places the s-hooks might even have disconnected if you didn't crimp them on. See why I kept saying to crimp them? Go back and do it now, I'll wait.

Don't worry about the slack, the shelving has a lot of "give" and will flex under a heavy load, thus distributing the weight just fine.

Attach the front s-hook closest to the center. Make sure the shelf is level fore & aft, then attach the rest for that shelf, checking for level as you go.

Repeat for other shelves, working your way down from the top. (It's easier to work from the top row of shelves down rather than vice-versa. Trust me on this.)

Now you're all set to become a pack-rat like me!