Introduction: Overhead Garage Shelves
One of the first projects I tackle in a new home is adding overhead garage shelving. Its a great way to use that space above a garage door or (anywhere else in the garage for that matter) for storing items that are only needed occasionally. You can find a few commercial alternatives available but nothing that is as convenient and inexpensive as the shelving I demonstrate here. The nice part about the shelves is that they are supported by a ledger on the wall and supporting rods that are screwed into ceiling joists. There are NO legs, brackets or braces supporting the shelved from below. I've built these shelves in several homes so thought it would be nice to create and Instructable to show you how you can do the same in your garage.
I show several examples of shelves I've installed in my garage above. In this Instructable I will demonstrate how to build the shelves in the first image. The image that shows a shelf supporting a 72 pound Christmas tree! It was harder to get the Christmas tree up there than to build the shelves!!
The shelves I describe here provide 48 sf of storage space and cost less than $75 to build.
You can configure the shelves above the garage doors, along the side wall or in an L shaped combination like I'll demonstrate here. You'll first need to consider how the ceiling joist are oriented in your garage. Its easiest to install the shelving on a wall that is perpendicular to the ceiling joists but you tweak the design a bit if you want to install the shelves on a wall that is parallel to the joists too. Here I'll be building an L shaped shelving unit so you'll see both approaches.
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Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools
In order to build the corner unit shown above you will need the following material and tools. I've provided links so you can easily find what you need. Total cost is about $75. If you are building more than one shelf, you can buy some items in quantity.
1 - 4" x 8" sheet of 3/4" plywood. Cut into 2 - 2' x 8' lengths at your local home center.
4 - 2" x 3" x 96" framing studs. You could use 2x4s but 2x3s are just fine.
4 - 1/4" x 36" zinc plated fine-thread rods. Fine threaded is 20 threads/inch. very common
4 - 1/4" fined threaded nuts and washers. You probably have a few of these in your garage already
4 - 1/4" - 20 coupling nuts. Coupling nuts are used to join the rod and hanger bolts together.
4 - 1/4" - 20 x 2" hanger bolts. Hanger bolts have wood threads on one end and machine threads on the other.
8 - Headlok 4 1/2" wood screws. I like these HeadLok screws but you can also use lag bolts instead
2 - Simpson Strong tie connector clips See image
50 - 2" drywall screws. I use drywall screws for everything!
- Power drill
- Wood glue
Step 2: Attach Ledger Boards to Wall
Start by bolting or nailing the 2x3 ledger to the wall at the desired location. The bottom of the ledger must be within 36" of the ceiling. Use at least 3 bolts for each ledger and make sure that ledger is level and each bolts is securely anchored to a wall stud. I've installed 2 ledgers in a corner to support my L shaped configuration. You may choose to only use one ledger or two side by side ledgers.
Step 3: Prepare Shelf
Next we'll prepare the first shelf to be installed on the ledger. Well start on the wall which is perpendicular to the ceiling joists. Begin by removing 1 1/2" from the end of a 2x3. Apply a bead of wood glue and screw the 2x3 to the long edge of the 2'x8' sheet of plywood with ~10 drywall screws. The 2x3 should be inset by 1 1/2" on the side that will become the corner and flush on the other end. On the end where the 2x3 is inset, well need to slip the 2x3 into the connector clip on the ledger before the glue dries so I left the last two screws out until after the shelf is in place (see photo).
Step 4: Attach Self to the Ledger
Now for the fun part. Muscle the shelf up into place and rest it on the ledger. If you're building a corner shelf, the shelf should be able to rest on the two ledgers by itself while you climb the ladder to screw it into the ledger along the back edge. If you are not building a corner shelf, you will probably need someone (or some way) to support it until you can screw it to the ledger. Make sure the ledger is snug against both walls in the corner and attach the shelf to the ledger with ~10 drywall screws.
You can't tell from the photo above, but I've installed a Simpson connector on the adjacent ledger and I slipped the 2x3 over the clip when i installed the shelf. Now with the clip is in place, I drive the final two screws into 2x3.
Step 5: Locate and Drill for Support Rod
Locate the ceiling joists above the shelf and determine which joist you will use to anchor the support rods. Use a level to mark the shelf directly below the center of the joist and drill a 5/16" hole 1 1/4" in from the outside edge.
Step 6: Attach Support Rod
Insert the rod through the hole and attach the coupling nut and hanger bolt to the upper end of the rod. Make sure the the coupling nut is evenly divided between the hanger bolt and the rod. Plumb the rod in both directions and center it on the ceiling joist above. Thread a washer and nut on to the rod below the shelf then attach a power drill to the rod and use it to drive the hanger bolt into the ceiling joist as shown in the video. Once the hanger bolt is secured to the joist, level the shelf by adjusting the nut up or down.
Step 7: Attach Additional Support Rod
Repeat the process to add one additional support rod below a joist near the middle of the shelf.
Step 8: Attach Connector Clip
Locate a ceiling joist above the adjacent shelf where you will anchor the second shelves support rods. These joists will be parallel to the shelf. Since the shelf is 24" wide, you will need to find a joist that is 18-24" from the wall. Attach a connector clip to the outside edge of the existing shelf directly below the ceiling joist you just located. In my case, the joist was 18" from the wall so I centered the clip 18" from the wall.
Step 9: Prepare the Second Shelf
Attach a 2x3 to the second shelf with glue and screws the same way you did the first shelf. However, instead of attaching it to the outside edge, offset the 2x3 by the same distance that the ceiling joist is offset from the wall. In my case, the joist is 18" from the wall so I center the 2x3 18" from the long edge of the shelf as shown in the figure.
Step 10: Attach the Second Shelf to Ledger
Lift the second shelf into position on the ledger and slip it into the clip as shown. Prop the shelf in position while you attach the shelf to the ledger with drywall screws.
Step 11: Add Support Rods to Second Shelf
Attach two support rods to the second shelf the same way as the first. Remember to drill the holes for the support rod directly below the ceiling joist. Adjust the nuts to level the shelf.
Step 12: Load Them Up!!
Now you can begin the back breaking work of loading the shelves!!