Over Garage Door Hidden Shelving




Introduction: Over Garage Door Hidden Shelving

About: Brewing, building and organizing!

This project was fairly straightforward work with only a couple minor adjustments for my particular garage beams.

These shelves should hold about 4 totes side-by-side above your garage door and be completely hidden when the garage door is open. I've had this project completed for about 6 months and am happy to report that the shelves have been fantastic and given me a TON more space in the garage.

This instructable is just a guide to put up wood shelving- I want to be very careful not to over-estimate the weight capacity of these shelves. If you buy metal shelving made for this purpose, they will tell you exactly how much they can hold. Those models also cost around $150-$400 each rack. I made Three of these shelves in my garage for about $50 worth of lumber and screws. They are sturdy, but please don't put really heavy items up there for your and your family's safety. We use them for our camping gear (lightweight tents, sleeping bags, backpacking packs etc.), seasonal decorations, seasonal clothing and my large but light homebrewing vessels. How much you feel comfortable putting on these shelves should correlate to how well you know these shelves are attached to studs in the wall and ceiling. I found really good stud coverage with only a couple shim pieces.

SAFETY NOTE: Please be sure to cut power or somehow lock your garage door into place so that it cannot be opened while you are working up on a ladder.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

For one shelf 8x2 rectangle you will need:

1. Four 2"x4"x8'

2. Four or more lag screws and correctly sized washers (to be driven into wall side and into ceiling)

3. Two 2'x4' sheets of pre-cut plywood

4. 3" drywall screws (for extra points of contact to upright legs and wall runner board)

5. 1" deck screws (to attach plywood to top of shelves)

6. Blue painter's tape or a pencil to mark stud spots for drilling


Saw that will cut 2x4 lumber at a straight angle

Power Drill/Screwdriver

Measuring Tape

Reliable Studfinder


Step 2: Find Your Studs

Measure how high you want to level your shelf, take into account the size of the totes or storage boxes you like to use and how much head clearance you have above where the garage door rolls up. This took several times rolling the garage door up and down to be very, very sure it would open and close without hitting the shelves. Once you have a precise measurement, add another inch gap for the garage door just in case.

Find the studs along the wall of your garage above the garage door and mark them with blue painter's tape.

Pre-drilling pilot holes (much smaller diameter than the lag screws, but still prevents cracking and destruction of the studs) is a great plan to do on the wall and on the shelf before you put it up.

Step 3: Build Your Shelf Frames

Cut one 2x4 down to two 2' sections and attach two full length 8' sections making a long, thin rectangular shape as seen in the photo.

This is now the time to pre-drill for the lag screw going in to the wall. Measure and re-measure before you drill the holes!

Do not attach the plywood tops to the shelves yet, this is your last step.

This is where a friend and a really good ladder come in handy. When you go to attach the shelf frame to the wall, It's reasonable to hold up the wall side of the frame to the wall and drill in a lag screw, but not to hold up the other side at the same time. Please have someone else hold the other end up.

Step 4: Attach to the Ceiling

So my roof has lateral running beams that stick out about 2.5' out from the garage door wall. This was lucky for me because I could add in a small block of wood and screw the leg/arm of the shelves up into that beam and know it is sturdy enough for my purposes. The other option is to lag screw into your ceiling studs and use two L shaped steel angle-plates to screw your wood into the plate after you've attached the plate to the ceiling. It's a good idea to have that friend we mentioned earlier around to hold the front face of the shelf level with the back face while you do this step.

Step 5: Add the Flat Plywood Surface

That's it folks- this is when you want to place the 2' by 4' pieces of plywood down on your shelves and screw them into your shelf frame. You don't need to overdo it with screws in this step- one in each corner of both pieces of plywood is plenty. The weight of your bins or stored items will hold them down, you just need enough screws to keep them from sliding laterally.

Enjoy your new shelves and new open space in your garage!



  • Water Contest

    Water Contest
  • Metalworking Contest

    Metalworking Contest
  • Creative Misuse Contest

    Creative Misuse Contest

25 Discussions

While the weigh bearing of the shelves is a concern, a greater and often overlooked is the weight bearing of the garage trusses. If the trusses are made of 2x4's it is best to keep the weight low. Xmas decorstions, perhaps.

Good instructable.

Enjoyed it.

Remember to power down the automatic door opener when working above the mechanism. Keeps you safe.

Thanks for the information looks like another project for my ToDo list.

1 reply

Yup, great call, adding that in to the I'ble right now. Thanks!

Great build. Be sure to unlatch the electric opener while you are up there on the ladder. Either while building or storing stuff up there after the build. Been there and done that. Ooops.

1 reply

Hah! I can picture that happening to me as well if I didn't tell anybody not to open the garage. Another great addition to the Instructable- thanks!

By the way, a project like this is a great opportunity to practice joinery skills. The frame could incorporate a simple box joint and a rabbit to 'drop the plywood shelf material into (the rabbit would actually add a half inch or so of usable height (he did not specify the thickness of the plywood used) while increasing the strength overall. Creating the Box Joint ends on the two by fours can be accomplished with a hand saw and a wood chisel (or jig saw, or band saw) while the rabbit will need a table saw or router (best way IMHO).

On a project of this sort, the joinery 'finish' is not as critical as when constructing furniture so it is a jood choice for 'practising' the techniques.

3 replies

I am just getting started on learning my joinery skills and am doing most of it with smaller pieces so that I'm not wasting too much wood. Thanks for the comment!

I was not taking a shot. I meant it as a thought for those readers contemplating a similar project. If you 'screw up' the eight foot 2 by it is no great loss. In the shelf build, cut it an use the pieces for the ends! Think if the exercise as Wood Class. If it takes you two tries, it is a cheap lesson. If you do it right off, you learn and get the satisfaction to boot. As they say, you can't succeed if you do take the chance. And, if you don't cuss too loudly when you do screw up, no one but you will know about it!

No, no- no offence taken!

I like your thinking- next project will need to be more sound-proofing the garage for when I start cutting dove-tails and really have to cuss :)

Great idea, good work.

Having that header beam to tie into was lucky - and unusual. Most folks will find the need to secure a two-y to the ceiling to attach the front supports to. Once the platform is in place, they can support the frame with a two by four between frame and floor (no need for a neighbor). Then they can locate the ceiling joists and use a plumb bob to line up the support on the ceiling with the frame of the shelf.

Or, if they (are adventurous and) have access to the attic, cut 2x4" holes through the drywall so they might tie the supports to the ceiling joists.

In your case, the ends of the support pieces could have been cut at an agle along the wide face of the support pieces such that it would contact the beam and shelf flush - eliminating the need for that filler block.

For something permanent, I would recommend glue on all joints as well as the additional screws to fasten the shelf material to the two by four framing as it will tie everything together into a single unit.

Across an eight foot span, a third vertical support wold not hurt either - call it teh Overkill support!

5 replies

Sounds good, thanks for the thoughtful comments!

I really like what @meswanson says above with the Chains- seems like it would add a lot of flexibility to the design.

My son in law used chains. They do take up less space than a 2 by! And, as the fellow said, provide more flexibility when it comes to tying into a hoist above. I envy you guys with nine foot ceiling height!

I don't think the 3rd support is needed unless you are really loading the shelf, and it would get in the way for bulky items. I have a pair of ramps for a trailer made from 2 2x4's and 3/8 OSB. I routine move a 300 pound wheeled auger and me (close to 200 lbs) up the ramps.

"it would get in the way for bulky items"

Yes, there are always trade-offs. Indeed, this shelf could have been constructed with 1 x 3's (if glued to the shelf material) and handled the loads he intended. I am not sure why he did not run it to the adjacent walls (on Right and Left Shelves, respectively) as that would have added support, strength and load capacity as well.

There are so many ways to skin the cat - never enough time.

Good catch- I did run it to the adjacent wall on one side, but I have another bay to my garage on the other side with other hardware/equipment that would have had to move to go all the way to the other wall. You're totally right that having it solidly attached to two walls would vastly improve the stability!

Very Nicley done. I ran similar shelves wall to wall all around my 3 car garage . They are lagged to the wall to studs. The difference is I used chains and "s" hooks on the ends giving me flexabilty to find trusses in the ceiling to hang the front of the shelves for strength.

1 reply

Thanks so much! This is a great idea- I think chains would be a much better way to go in general- so much more flexibility and great strength.

Finding Studs with a Super Magnet

I ran across this technique when re-doing our kitchen and it works!

I found some on Craigslist similar to http://www.magnet4less.com/product_info.php?cPath=...

You simply slide the magnet along the wall where you suspect to find a stud. when it passes over the hidden fastener (drywall nail or screw, for instance) you will feel it resist your pulling - make a mark! Measure over 16" and slide it about until you feel the resistance, make a mark and repeat.

Take a level and line an edge with each of your marks and draw a light plumb line up or down to where you need to fasten your project. Slide the magnet along this line to verify (finding additional hidden fasteners along your line) you've found the run of the wall stud or ceiling joist.

Then, mark where your project will attach to the wall or ceiling. In the instant case, the two by four will cover 3.5" along the line and in this area you can drive a nail to determine the edges of the stud found and, thus, locate your fastener at or very close to the center of the 1.5" thick stud. The extra holes will be covered by your project and all your fasteners will be as secure as can be.


11 months ago

I did something like this in a detached 2 car garage. I put up a 4X8 ft shelf above each bay of the garage, using 2x6 framing. It's been up there for over 20 years and holds all the lawn furniture, flower boxes, hosed and whatever else I can fit up there.