Introduction: Gym Bleachers to Garage Shelves

In this Instructable I will show how I REUSED gym bleachers in a garage shelving Home Improvement project.

Yes! That is right! Reused gym bleachers transformed into garage shelves.

I recommend you all pay attention to what is going on in your local communities. Older schools are either being replaced or updated. With either case this means that older infrastructure like WOOD is being trashed and salvaged. If you hear of any updating happening in your community, take the time to find out what is going to happen with the "old and outdated" stuff when it is removed. It could be yours for FREE!

This is my second successful school salvage in the past 6 years. In this instance I was able to salvage a truck load of lumber of various sizes. If I had access to a trailer, instead of salvaging a truck load of 8 foot boards, I could have salvaged a mountain of 16-18 ft. boards.

Since adding a larger garage to our home about 8 years ago I have been wanting to Improve the storage in one specific corner of the garage. But, I did not want to spend a lot of money. Patience paid off as I was able to build shelving for FREE!

Step 1: Reclaimed Lumber

Take advantage of any opportunity you have at free materials.

I was fortunate enough to be able to salvage a pick-up truck load of lumber from a gym salvage. At a school building where I have taught for the past few years, the old wood bleachers were being removed and replaced with a modern style composite automatic bleacher system. What bleacher lumber that was not being salvaged by staff members was going to a salvage warehouse.

My salvage included a truck load of...

  • 2 x 11 step boards
  • 1 x 10 face boards
  • 1 x 9 seat boards

For this project I will be using some of the step and face boards.

My recommendation to all who like reclaimed lumber, is keep your eyes and ears open for local updates to older schools. Get the materials before the large companies come in and take it away.

Step 2: Scrape Boards

With anything you salvage from a school you better be prepared to scrape gum! 99% of you reading this probably deposited at least 1 piece of gum under a bench, table, or chair. You other 1% just live by Deny till you Die philosophy!

Every board I salvaged had at least one piece of chewing gum.

No Problem... A metal putty knife will take care of the job. And since it is not all that fresh, it usually comes off pretty easily.

Step 3: Work Space

My plan was to get better use out of one corner of my garage. This corner was usually reserved for long pieces of whatever that I would just lean in the corner along with our trash cans.. Overall, it has been wasted space.

This instructable will show how I improved by storage space by building 3 corner shelves.

  • 1 large shelf above the walk-in door to the overhead door.
  • 2 smaller shelves between the walk-in door to the overhead door.

Diagrams show measurements of the the planned shelves.

Step 4: Rip Shelf Supports

For this step you will need a table saw to rip your salvaged lumber to desired. You will also need a miter saw, or handsaw to cut the boards to your desired dimensions. I used a miter saw to cut my boards to the dimensions in Step 3 of this Instructable.

I ripped three of the 2 x 11 boards to make 2 x 3 inch boards for the shelf supports.

Step 5: Mount Support Boards

Tools for this step.

  • Finish nail and hammer to find studs.
  • Level to be sure your supports are level when mounting
  • Battery power drill to drive screws.

Before mounting boards you will need to find the studs in your wall. You can either go to the store and buy yourself an electronic stud finder, or use the old school method of estimating the location and probing the wall with a finish nail and hammer. I went old school on this project.

Once you have decided on the location of your shelves and found the studs you can now mount your supports. Since my boards were 1 3/4" thick I used 3" deck screws for mounting the boards through the drywall to the studs.

In the corners I toe nailed a butt joint to ensure a well fastened corner mount.

Not pictured is the 3 support in the front. Sorry forgot to take a picture to complete the triangles.


For the face board I used the miter saw to cut some angles to make a nice clean fit.

Step 6: Shelf Decking

For this next step I used some of the 1 x 10 bleacher face boards. Before I started cutting to size I ripped them in half to ~5 inch. I say approximately because the boards were a true 10 inch wide, but need to compensate for the kerf of the blade.

I needed to rip to 5 inch width in order to be able to cut angles with miter saw. My saw accepts max 5.5 inch wide boards.

Per my dimensions of shelving my miter cuts were 55 degree on the left edge and 35 degree on the right.

After cuts were made and boards fitted a nail gun was used with 1.5 inch 16 gauge finish nails to fasten decking to the supports.

Step 7: Top Shelf Additional Support

The top shelf had quite a span of 85 inches with support only at the walls. This cause a little spring of the first few boards. Problem was solved with an additional support board along bottom side. All deck boards were nailed to the support.

Now a very strong and sturdy shelf.

Step 8: Face Board

After the decking was finished I noticed the unsightly 2 x 3 frame support. I thought I would make this a little nicer by ripping one of the 1 x 10 step faces to 3 3/4 inch to give it a nice finished look.

Step 9: Small Shelves

Repeat the process for the additional shelves!

Step 10: Done!

There you have it! A Before and After reuse of bleacher lumber for a Home Improvement project!

All of this cost me absolutely NOTHING! Lumber was free and screws were leftovers from other projects.

Now my workbench is cleared of all my workbench tools and the kids have easy access to some of their favorite balls.

Still trying to figure out why kids need so many basketballs!

Still have a pile of lumber left over. What to do on my next project? Hmmm...

Still have a bunch of 1 x 9 seat boards.

Happy Making!


Before and After Contest 2017

Runner Up in the
Before and After Contest 2017

Makerspace Contest 2017

Participated in the
Makerspace Contest 2017

Home Improvement Contest 2017

Participated in the
Home Improvement Contest 2017