Introduction: DIY Cantilevered Material Shelving
I needed a better way to store stock - some rods, tubes, and plates, as well as some old shelving standards and posters in tubes - than standing upright in cardboard boxes. Cantilevered (angled) shelving is the shop standard for storing stock, but commercial units were too large and expensive.
So I designed my own cantilevered shelving using Closetmaid shelving components from Home Depot supported by 2x3 lumber. The wire shelving is supported by triangular brackets that hook into metal standards. In order to mount the shelves at an angle, the standards are cut into short lengths which are screwed to wood support blocks cut at a 5° angle. The wire shelving is solid enough to support anything except short lengths of narrow stock, and allows better visibility of the stock than solid shelving. I built the unit for 36" wide x 16" deep shelves. Each shelf has a strip of plywood at the back so shorter pieces cannot roll off the back of the shelves.
I list the fasteners and drill sizes I used, but these can vary based on what you have on hand and whether the pilot hole sizes work for your screws, wood, and driver.
Materials (Home Depot SKUs)
6 2 in. x 3 in. x 96 in. Premium Spruce Stud
Internet #306810045 Model # 40350A Store SKU #845000
2 Sanded Plywood (Common: 1/2 in. x 2 ft. x 4 ft.; Actual: 0.451 in. x 23.75 in. x 47.75 in.)
Internet #202089006 Model # 1502104 Store SKU #300896
2 ShelfTrack 48 in. x 1in. White Standard
Internet #100067886 Model # 2804 Store SKU #435206 Store SO SKU #1000542852
3 SuperSlide 72 in. W x 16 in. D White Ventilated Wire Shelf (cut in 1/2 to 36" pieces, eg by Home Depot)
Internet #100146445 Model # 4735 Store SKU #873527
12 ShelfTrack 16 in. x .5 in. White Shelf Bracket
Internet #100047306 Model # 52854 Store SKU #436417 Store SO SKU #1000625332
2 1/4 in. White Shelf End Caps for Ventilated Wire Shelving (20-Pack)
Internet #100672001 Model # 21016 Store SKU #220994
Fasteners (you may want to adjust these, especially the #12 screws):
1-5/8" drywall screw
2-1/2" construction screws
#12 2" sheet metal screws
Step 1: Prepare the Parts
I built a Fusion360 3D model (see picture) to get the sizes of the various parts and see how the design fit together. The 3D model left off all fasteners, the shelves and brackets, and the standards are just solid steel blocks, but this allowed me to confirm what lengths to cut, etc.
- Cut the lumber. My space could accommodate 88" tall shelving. So I cut the 2x3 studs into 2 x 88" lengths for the uprights, 2 x 33" lengths for the horizontal pieces, 2 x 71.5" lengths for 15° braces, 2 x 18.5" lengths for the front legs, and 12 x 5" lengths for the supports for the shelf brackets. The plywood back pieces are cut to 36" wide by ~8" high (24" divided into 3 minus the saw kerf). You may want to increase the length of the horizontal pieces a little (see below). If available, rounding the edges of the 2x3s with a router and a roundover bit gets rid of sharp edges.
- Cut one face of the 5" supports at a 5° angle. I first made a 5° cut to get a thin wedge, which I clamped to the sled on my table saw (see picture), which allowed me to cut the support blocks at a 5° angle to the blade.
- Cut 12 x 5" lengths of the standards with a bandsaw, hacksaw, or angle grinder. The slots have a 1.25" pitch so you should end up with 4 slots along each length. File the ends to get rid of sharp edges. See the picture of one 5" standard piece after it has been drilled.
- Drill 3 thru holes (7/32" diameter) in the 5" standard pieces, in between the slots, and corresponding pilot holes (5/32" diameter) in the angled face of the 5" support blocks. I printed a template so I could mark and punch the holes accurately. Using a drill press, I put the 5° wedge under the support blocks so I could drill the pilot holes perpendicular to the face of the support block. I held the 5" standard piece in a vise when drilling and used cutting oil. Afterwards, I deburred the holes in the standard pieces. I could use a deburring tool on the front but needed an oversized drill to deburr the back side. I also used a template to drill holes through the side of the 5" support blocks for attaching them to the upright 2x3s (see below).
Step 2: Assembly
- Screw the standard pieces onto the support blocks using the 2" sheet metal screws. Before doing so, check that the screw heads do not interfere with the shelving brackets. In my case, I had to grind down the head diameter of 2 of the 3 screws for each standard. The 3rd screw sat below the shelving bracket. I also ground down the self-tapping point since it was between the thread major and minor diameters and would have reduced the holding strength.
- Screw the upright and horizontal 2x3s together using the 2-1/2" construction screws to form the rectangular frame. Good practice is to always drill a 3/32" pilot hole and use a countersink bit before driving the screw. Cut one end of each brace on a 15° angle and screw it to the front leg. I chose to drill through the bottom of the leg so the screws are hidden. I had to drill an 3/8" diameter clearance hole for the screw head 1/2 way into the leg for the 2-1/2" screws to go into the braces. Then screw the leg-brace assembly into the side of the rectangular frame. Start with the end of the leg. The brace is oversized. After screwing the brace into the side of the frame, mark the back edge of the frame on the inside face of the brace. Then, unscrew the leg-brace assembly and cut off the excess material on the brace so it is flush with the back of the rectangular frame. I also cut off the point of the brace to eliminate the sharp corner. Reattach the leg-brace assembly.
- Make a spacer block to use when attaching the support blocks. In my case, I allowed 14" of height per shelf so I made a 9" space block. Clamp the support block to the upright, starting at the bottom with the support block sitting on the horizontal part of the frame. I used a drill through the 4 side holes to mark their position on the upright, then unclamped the block to predrill the uprights (drill bit was too short). Use the 2-1/2" construction screws to screw the bottom support block to the upright. Use the spacer block to position the next support block, clamp, drill, and screw. Repeat until all 6 supports are attached, then attach the support blocks on the other side.
- Cut a notch out of the bottom of each plywood board so the bottom of the board sits close to the top of the shelf. I cut a notch 1.5" wide starting 1.5" in from the edge of the board and 7/16" high. I clamped all 6 boards together and sat the boards vertically on the table saw. I raised the table saw blade 7/16" high. Since I don't have a stacked dado head cutter, I moved the fence and took multiple cuts to form the notch, which was cleaned up with a rasp.
- With the notches resting on the top of the standards, predrill and screw the plywood boards to the upright pieces of the 2x3 frame using 1-5/8" drywall screws. This is a good time to paint the wood. I used white spray paint after some primer to cover the knots. I did minimal sanding before painting.
- Mark the plywood boards and remove them so you can install the shelves and brackets. The brackets must be angled up to hook into the slots in the standards, which interferes with the plywood.
- Install the brackets and shelves. In my case, the edges of the shelves hit the wooden braces on the side. I had to grind off some of the ends of the shelf to clear the braces. I also had to angle the shelves into place, slide the bracket through the (vertical) front of the shelf, and then hook the bracket in place. The shelf is then slid forward to snap into the retainers at the back of the bracket. If the horizontal width is increased so the edges of the shelves clear the braces, this assembly would be simpler as the brackets could be installed, then the shelves. After installing the shelves, use the plastic end caps to cover the sharp ends where the shelves were cut in half. Reinstall the plywood boards and the cantilevered shelves are complete!
Step 3: Load Up!
Now you can load material onto the shelves. In the picture, all of the material on the lightly loaded shelves took up the same floor space as the shelving unit!