Introduction: Heavy Duty Shelf Brackets

About: I've always been intrigued by coming up with new ways to accomplish task. I am an entrepreneur at heart. I've owned my own Construction business that specialized in Historic properties, I've flipped home, an…
So I wanted to create some storage in my garage. I saw there was a lot of unused space at the top of my walls.  So I decided I could make a 24" deep shelf all the way around to store my plastic storage totes. I priced out the heavy duty brackets at 24". They ran $10 a piece. I needed 17 so I just made my own using 2 x 4 lumber and screws. Each bracket cost me less than $3.

20 brackets x $10 equals $200
20 brackets x $3 equals only $60
That is a $140 savings on just 20

It took me about two hours to make 17 brackets. While I watched my four year old son ride his bike outside.

Here are some products that inspired me to make my own.

This even cost more!

Step 1: Tools

1. Drill and bits
2. Tape measure
3. Speed square or small framing square
4. Saw (I used my compound miter with a stand and stop block setup.)
5. Work surface (I had a clamp on my table that helped a lot.)
6. Extension cords if needed.
7. My wife also insist on a shop vac to clean up my mess.
8. I insist on a hot cup of coffee.

Step 2: Decisions Decisions

1. Decide how big your shelf needs to be. There are a couple things to consider

A. Ceiling height
B. Clearance needed above shelf
C. Clearance needed below shelf bracket
D. Depth of shelf.
E. Thickness of plywood and length of bracket you are making.
F. Bracket spacing depending on plywood thickness. Helps to estimate your number of brackets.

Planning is the most important step in any project. So take you time, think it through. Then you can execute a perfect project that fits your needs. Here where my decisions based on what I laid out above.

A.124" available clearance
B.20" for my plastic bins with wiggle room
C.79" for my shelving units
D.24" I decided on this because 24 is a good depth for my bins and I could get Lowes to rip my sheets in half for free. Length wise of course.
E.19/32" this is fairly cheap and strong enough to spread my brackets.
F.4' is what I felt was efficient for my needs. I can hang between my bracket spacing any it doesn't sag much. For me this is all I need. I weigh 175 lbs!

Step 3: Bracket Layout,Cutting,Building

Note:  I didn't feel the need to glue my joints, but some feel it would be an idea to consider.  I explain more about this at the end in the IMPORTANT: section.  If you would like you can glue your joints.  A glued joint is a stronger joint, but is unnecessary for this project if done as I have.

I'm going to just use the bracket size I decided on in my explanation, but I will explain how I came to certain measurements.. I decided to make a 24" wide x 24" long bracket arms with a 45 degree brace. I also decided I needed 17 brackets.

I like to use stop blocks to cut my pieces. If you are not familiar with a stop block. It is simply a stopping point on your compound miter saw that you adjust to your length of cut. Then you just bump your lumber up to it, cut that piece, put it in a stack, then cut the next piece. It greatly increases your speed and accuracy of cuts. If you still don't understand this just YouTube stop block on miter saw.


(this will change if you are making different size brackets. But it will inform you of my thought process. So you can figure out your own cut list)

So for 1-24"x24" bracket you will need
1. 1-24"
2. 1-22.5" (This is how I came to this measurement.) 24" (Length of bracket) minus 1.5" (2x4 thickness)
3. This will be cut with 45's through the width of the board. Refer to photos. 1-32" long to long \45 45/. (This is how I came to this measurement the easy way. Go to step a through b)
4. 2-1" spacing blocks (3.5"-1.5" equals 2" divided by 2 equals 1") These blocks are used to space your brace up to the correct height while mounting the brace to the bracket arms.  


(You can skip step B if you are making a 24"x24" bracket. Just use my measurements. If you are making a different size the step b tells how I came up with the brace length.)

A. Take your two bracket arms 1 @ 24" and 1 @ 22.5". Clamp the 22.5" down to your work table. Take the 24" and lay it perpendicular to the 22.5". The 24" will cap the end grain of the 22.5". Take your 3 1/2" screws and screw the two pieces together. The clamp will hold the 22.5" in place so you can line everything up nicely. I used two screws.
B. Now lay down your square in the crotch of the two boards. Make sure everything is square. Then measure from the point A to point b. This is the long points on the 45's.
C. Now that you have everything cut. After step A you continue to this step. Lay down your spacer blocks where the 45' meet the bracket arms. Lay the brace in place on top of the spacers.  Screw in with  2 1/2" screws. I used two per brace end.

Your brace is now done. I used #10 3 1/2" screws to mount the brackets, #9 2 1/2 for mounting the bracket arms to the braces;  and #8 1 1/4" screws to mount my plywood to the brackets.

Note: the screws I chose are self drilling so I didn't have any problems with would splitting.  I would suggest using these type screws unless you pre-drill your pieces first.  If there are splits then the integrity of the brace is compromised.


Please make sure you orient the brackets as I have in the photos for installation.  To get the full potential of the bracket you need to install it so that the short bracket arm is screwed to the wall, and the longer bracket arm is screwed on top of the shorter one.

If you install these the other way they will do great but the new orientation will change the pressure points and angles on the joints.  Thus making the top joint weaker due to the pulling effect that may because by pressure on the outter most point of the shelf.  The downward force on the 45 degree brace will leverage out on the top bracket arm.  If installed correctly it will cause shear force on the fasteners.  The fasteners I chose will have no problem taking care of this.  If you flip the bracket it will cause extrusion force on the fasteners.  The fasteners I chose will have no problem taking care of this, but other may not carry the load so well.  

Butt joint are considered weak by some people due to the leverage that can be created if a brace isn't present.  In my design there is no concern for this if properly installed.
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