Introduction: Even Easier DIY 48-bin Shelf

I'm in the midst of a gigantic lab and work area reorganization. I have been working out of 27-gallon HDX bins for years. I always spent the first couple of hours of any project trying to remember which bin contained the things I needed. I knew I needed to organize, but I didn't know where to start.

First I got some 64-drawer parts bins for the small parts. The capacitors, resistors, transistors, etc. Then I got some 5x4x3 stacking/hanging bins for the parts that were too big for those. But I still had several bins full of things too big for those. Cables, power supplies, tubes, adapters, etc. I knew I needed a manageable clear bin system for all of those things.

I was coveting the SEB TECH DIY one-sheet plywood parts bin shelf (, but I couldn't find good-sized bins for cheap. I also feel like cutting, sanding and painting plywood is a whole lot of work and mess. I'm a maker, but I'm also work-averse.

Then I saw these Sterilite 6-qt bins on sale at Walmart (10 for $5!) and knew something had to happen. They were out of stock everywhere close by, so I drove 40 minutes away to buy these bins. Got them home and started looking into this project again. Started going down the path of measuring plywood cuts, and quickly realized the bin size I chose would actually require more than one piece of plywood. Then I measured the bins and had an epiphany. The bins are just under 14x8x5. I started wondering if there was an appropriate pre-made shelf that would do the job. BINGO! I found white melamine boards, 48" x 15.75" x 5/8". Some quick calcs showed that without cutting a single board, I could put together a shelf that would hold 48 bins -- eight rows of six.

So I picked up some coarse thread drywall screws -- essential if you're working with melamine/particle board, and some titebond glue. I don't actually know how much the glue will help, but every little bit helps. Got it all home, and less than four hours later, finished product!


40 or 50 Sterilite 6-qt plastic bins, 14x8x5ish
11 melamine shelf boards, 48" x 15.75" x 5/8"
coarse thread drywall screws (54)
strong glue
two 5" (x at least 16") spacer jigs made of scrap wood.

Step 1: Step One: Start From the Top, But Act Like It's the Bottom

I started by laying two boards on their rear edge (as the sides of the shelf).

Run a bead of glue along the two side edges of a third board -- this will be your first lateral board, or the TOP when you flip it.

Line them up like the photo. Clamp them at 90 degrees if you have a way of doing that, but you can probably eyeball this, this process is super-forgiving.

When you have it as perfect as you want it, pre-drill three holes on each side -- through the side board and into the end of the shelf board. I drilled mine 1.5" from each end and in the center.

Then, using your driver, carefully drive coarse thread drywall screws into the predrilled holes.

If you did it right, this should hold your shape for the next shelf.

Step 2: Step 2: Use Your Jigs and Add Shelves!

So you've got your first shelf board screwed and glued into place. It looks true, it measures true, it's good and solid. Now clamp your jigs into place on each side as shown. Make sure they're flush with your first shelf.

Glue your second shelf ends and place it right up against those spacer jigs. Use bar clamps to hold it fast, using the completed shelf as the anchor. Drill your three holes in line with that second shelf, screw those screws in, then pop out the spacer jigs and wipe off any glue you left on the surfaces.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Measure from the first shelf each time to make sure you're staying even.

The ninth shelf will be a couple of inches shy of the end of the sides. This end will be the bottom.

If you want to make yourself feel really good, after each shelf you glue and screw, take a closed bin and slide it from one end of the newly-minted shelf to the other, marveling in its fitment!

Step 3: Step 3: Carefully Move It Upright and Relocate It.

By the time you've gotten all your shelves in, you'll notice this thing is pretty dang solid, not a lot of wiggle to it. Be proud of yourself, you made a thing! But don't jinx it. Get someone to help you set it upright, it's a bit heavy. Imagine lugging all eleven of those heavy-ass melamine shelves, then put all that weight in an oversized, awkward shape. Get some help.

Lift by grasping the sides, not by a shelf. It's solid, but it's still melamine/particleboard, and it's not the strongest material known to man.

Take a picture of it. Aren't you proud?

Any questions? This is my first instructable, please feel free to let me know if I left anything out.

Step 4: Step 4: Possible Improvements

It seems pretty strong to me, but if you're going to store lots of heavy stuff, you might consider cutting another sheet into 5" slabs (you know, like your spacer jigs) and gluing them dead center between each shelf. The bins will still fit three on either side, and it will prevent the shelves from sagging under the weight. Also add a center piece under the bottom, at whatever size that turns out to be. GOOD LUCK!