Gargantuan Basement or Garage Shelving Unit for $36





Introduction: Gargantuan Basement or Garage Shelving Unit for $36

About: Physicist with a home furniture-making problem!

I needed shelving for my basement, but I wanted to have a little fun with it, and see how much shelving storage I could build for the lowest possible price, while still being plenty strong. This shelving unit uses a single OSB 4 foot x 8 foot sheet, and 2x3 inch studs to make a strong shelving unit, while taking up very little space for a lot of storage. Each shelf gives a lot of room above it to stack lots of boxes and supplies.

Before I started, my basement was a mess, stuff everywhere, and I wanted to get it off the cement floor to prevent damage. The finished dimensions for this shelving unit are 8 feet long, 16 inches wide by 5.75 feet high, with three shelves.

I specifically designed the dimensions of the shelving unit to provide the most possible storage area for the lowest possible price. If you're on a budget for diy home improvement, or prepping with supplies, or just want to save money, this project might be fun. It's an easy build, takes about 3 hours tops, you might do it in less.

Step 1: Buy the Wood and the Hardware

I specifically chose 2x3 studs because they're plenty strong for this kind of shelving unit, while being a little less expensive than regular 2x4 studs, and a little lighter and easier to build.

You can use plywood instead of OSB, but you'll spend more on the shelves. OSB is inexpensive, very strong, and for a shelving unit in a basement or garage, it's looks aren't a detriment.

You can screw the wood together, but I chose to nail it together because I don't need to worry as much about splitting the wood or a screw breaking. I did buy screws to attach the shelves to the studs.

You'll also need about 25 3-inch or 3.5-inch common nails or screws to attach the 8-foot studs to the sides, about 15 2.5-inch or 3 inch common nails to attach the 13-inch cross supports to the vertical studs, and you'll need a small box of 1-inch screws to attach the OSB board to the shelf studs.

Between the single sheet of OSB board, 10 2x3 studs and the hardware, my total bill came to about $36. You might already have some of the screws or nails.

Step 2: Have Your Home Store Cut the OSB Board With Their Panel Saw

You can also do it yourself, but I've always liked the luxury of having the friendly folks at my local Home Depot store cut my panels. They do very precise job, it's easier to bring home, the cut panels are lighter and easier to move, and it makes assembly easier.

Save the small piece of scrap at the bottom, you might find it useful as shim material, more on that later.

Step 3: Cut the 2x3 Studs

As shown, 6 of the studs will be used full length, 8 feet long. The other four will be cut at 5 feet, 9 inches (69 inches) with the remaining part of those cut into two lengths of 13 inches each. (The remaining inch will be used up by as kerf in the sawing.) This will leave you with 4 vertical legs and 8 13-inch sides, of which you only use 6 of them, the other 2 6-inch sides are waste.

Step 4: Make the Sides

Nail or screw together the vertical sides as shown. The bottom side should be about 4 inches from the bottom in case of water, and to allow for cleaning underneath. The top side should be flush with the top, and the middle side should be somewhere in the middle, I put mine at about 36 inches.

I photographed these standing up, but I obviously built them flat on the floor, it's much easier to hammer the snot out of wood studs when they're laying flat on a floor.

Step 5: Nail or Screw the Lengths

I used 3.5-inch common nails, but drywall screws would have worked if you don't mind drilling a pilot hole to prevent splitting. I put one nail into the end of the 13-inch side and one into the vertical. Repeat this for all six lengths. It's much easier to lay the unit on its side when you do this, do three 8-foot lengths on one side, carefully flip it all over then do the other three on the other side.

Step 6: Add the OSB Board Shelves, Attach With Screws

The board might be a little tight, you can always bang them in with a hammer. Then attach with the one-inch screws.

Mine got a little screwed up, because I mistakenly remembered that the shelves were 18-inches wide, when they were actually 16-inches wide. But if you follow the cut pattern above it should work. My shelf was okay, I was glad I didn't have to redo it, it just isn't as sharp-looking as your shelving unit will be.

Step 7: Level and Secure the Shelving Unit

I no longer have small children in the house, but I have teenagers, and a young boy, so I didn't want the whole thing to fall down on anyone. I put it in a narrow space, so if it falls, it won't go all the way over. BUT, if you have small children, you definitely should secure the whole thing to the wall to prevent a tip-over. If you don't have small children, at minimum, shim the front legs so that the whole shelf leans slightly to the wall, which will significantly help prevent tip-overs when the shelves are loaded. I used the scrap from the OSB trim for that, as shown. Check with a level, again, it's very important to make sure your shelves don't fall over.

If you want to install these units in a location not against a wall, at least run a cable or heavy rope into a heavy-duty eye-hook screwed into a rafter, Having that stabilization at the top will help prevent a tip-over. You can also build two of these units and screw them to each other, back to back, but even then, try to stabilize it in some way, especially if you have children around.

Step 8: Grab All Your Debris and Get Ready to Load

I had two rooms full of boxes and various debris of misguided suburban life. Let's see how it all loaded up ...

Step 9: Load Up

Not bad! It held much more than I could have squeezed onto even one of the big $150 shelving units from the home store. Our budget shelving unit has a total shelf space of about 31 square feet. This might be a touch less than the very large ready made shelving units, but our shelving unit has high shelves and lots of room, which lets you really load it up in a way that would be hard for a conventional shelving unit.

And this price, as long as you don't mind doing a little labor, you could build about 4 of them for the same price as one of the ready-made units, that would probably give you more storage than you would ever need in your garage or basement, and still leave plenty of floor space.

Remember, put the heavy stuff on the bottom and the lighter, bulkier stuff on top to increase stability.

I estimate that I put about 600 lbs. total of suburban debris onto that shelving unit, it didn't complain about the weight.

Step 10: Organizational Success, Clutter-free Bliss.

The two rooms in my basement look great. I'm going to eventually wall off that room with the long shelves, maybe build another one, then finish off the basement in clutter-free bliss.

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11 Discussions

I've built shelving with a similar design. You really want some kind of cross bracing or this will undoubtedly sway left and right.

Nice shelves. I came up with almost the exact design.
I used 2x4s for the posts and the horizontals on the sides of each shelf.
Also slight adjustments to make it a corner unit(shelves are 16"x8')
So all in it cost $90 to build 64sq ft of shelving!

Thanks for the instructable, i used your design as the base for some attic shelving. I made the shelves deeper and (due to hight restrictions) went with two shelves.

Took just two hours to build and i plan to build two more!

I built one for the basement and am going to build another shortly. The top shelf was a bit higher than I wanted so I just unbolted it and moved it down. I prefer drywall or wood screws for this reason. Very versatile, simple, and sturdy design.

1 reply

Thanks, I'm glad it worked out for you. I didn't mention in the Instructable part of the background of this project. I'm a half-broke physicist, occasionally I screw around with dumb little calculations, before I made this one, I set up a little back-of-the-envelope equation to see if I could maximize the area for the price assuming most of the stuff I needed to store had a footprint of a plastic bin. I tried a bunch of different setups, this one maximized my area for price. And you're right drywall screws are usually better, as long as they don't break ... I actually used nails for part of it to keep the price from going above $36!

To the other comments about bracing ... of course it's good to brace shelves that are going to hold a lot of weight per area, like tooling shelves in the garage, but for basement and storage stuff, it's usually low-density, and just straight joisting seems to work fine. I've found that OSB adds a lot of dimensional stability. There are some terrific instructables for workbenches that are highly braced, I hope to follow one in the near future to set up a garage workbench.

Finally, I had a lot of fun with this instructable, I wish I had been doing this long ago, I've made a lot of 'budget' furniture when my wife told me to buy something that I often couldn't afford. I'm doing an instructable now for an industrial-style console table.

I do not see any cross bracing or stabilization system. Without bracing. cabling or a solid back, it pivot where the shelves attach. While the fasteners will hold it stable for a time as the wood shrinks and things are loaded on unloaded from the shelf it will become less stable. Without bracing you are relying solely on the spacing and strength of the fasteners.

Excellent project, nice and simple and quick. I'm inspired now to clean up the garage. BTW, how you want for that bird cage?

Thanks a lot! I will make one too.

Simple! Thanks for this submission

Simple! Thanks for this submission

Great shelf design. You should enter this in the "living without closets" contest.