Introduction: Cheap Storage Shelves

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.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

                     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.

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

Power drill
Set of drill bits
Measuring tape
Clamps (optional)

Step 2: Cutting the Lumber

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

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

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

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

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

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

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