DIY Garage Shelves [Freestanding]

Submitted by Ana White on Tue, 09/11/2018 - 10:01
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Free plans to build garage shelving using only 2x4s.  Easy and inexpensive, but sturdy and functional.  Includes video tutorial from

freestanding garage shelving easy diy
2x4 garage shelving
garage shelving with totes
2x4 garage shelving empty

Thanks so much for watching my newest video on building a 20' long garage storage shelving unit!

I hope you enjoyed watching it as much as I enjoyed making the video and the storage unit!  It was fun!

Now it's your turn - here's the plans for the project!

Some project notes:

  • You can make your shelving as long or short as you want.  
  • The span between leg sets can be altered.  Mine are about 5' appart, and it's plenty strong.  I'd go wider (6') so that you can fit three of those giant storage totes per shelf.  According to the Sagulator you can put about 200 pounds on a six foot long shelf, made of 4 2x4 boards. 
  • You can go taller if you want.
  • You can add more shelves, at any height.
  • Make sure you secure to the wall to prevent forward tipping or racking

I recommend a good self tapping screw so you don't have to predrill any holes (as I do in the video).  Try these for building the "ladder" legs -

And you can use something smaller, like these, for attaching the shelving boards to the ladder leg sets -

Share when you are done with your project, I love seeing how your projects turn out!

XO Ana

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DIY Garage Shelves Freestanding

garage shelving dimensions diagram
72" tall x 20' long (or desired length)


Shopping List

2 - 10' long 2x4s PER Leg Support (I had 5 leg supports, so I bought 10)

4 - 2x4 - length of shelf PER SHELF (I bought 16 2x4 @ 20' long because I had 4 shelves, 20' long each)

2-1/2" self tapping wood screws 

Common Materials
2 1/2 inch screws
Cut List


2 - 2x4 @ 72"

4 - 2x4 @ 17"

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Power Sander
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Mark out placement of shelf supports on each of the legs.  Attach legs to shelf supports with 2-1/2" self tapping screws and glue.  

Step 2

Mark out on 4 of the shelf boards the placement of the leg supports.  Attach 2 to top shelf and 2 to bottom shelf with screws.  I attached the outer boards first, flush to the inside of the leg boards.  This will create the basic shape of your shelving unit.

Adjust for square.  Then add remaining shelf boards and screw down.

Attach securely to wall to prevent forward tipping or racking.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.


Camp Grandma

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 07:57

I came to your site looking for plans like this and poof there they were, right when I needed them. My closets in the house require  some serious decluttering and these shelves are just perfect. The same thing happened with another plan, the plan came out the very day I needed it.  Love the new site btw.



Fri, 09/12/2014 - 08:49

WOW Ana!!! I am so excited about these plans that I had a dream about them last night.  My garage is desparate for organization with all the things I'm building from your site and here you are offering me an alternative to the stacks and stacks of stuff piling up in the garage.  It will be a duanting task to clean it up, but these plans have me more motivated than ever.  I'm going to build an entire wall on one side which of course I will have to determine the full board length and a smallerish one on the other so I will have wall-to-wall shelving for all my many items.  Also a good excuse to throw out stuff that's been there for years.

Excited to start!


Tue, 09/23/2014 - 11:06

Hi, new to all of this. How did you securely attach the selves to the wall? 


Fri, 09/26/2014 - 18:49

I've been refurbishing my home and have one room that I've kept my tools and materials in. That will be the last room to be done. It was a mess! These shelves are perfect! They're temporary for this room, but once I build my small shed, they'll be resized for that. This was easy peezy! Fast too! My son helped me and didn't think we could get it done by the time he had to leave. Ha! 3 hours, 2 shelving units. One is 5 feet long and the other 7. Did I mention it only took us 3 hours?!

Angie Overton

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 15:57

Yesterday afternoon my daughter and I built some shelves from these plans. We had to make due with what we had so we used rescued lumber. I look forward to making another set. 

This was an easy project that just me and my 14 year old were able to complete in one afternoon. The plans were easy to follow and it was a great bonding time for us as well. Thank you for the plans. 


Wed, 11/26/2014 - 07:08

I have been living in my new home for the last 13 months and I still had a big mess in my garage from the move (can any one relate to this?). So it was time to put some plan into action to organize it before I was kicked out of the house ;-) and looking around for simple but sturdy solutions to build I stumbled upon this website and its wonderful array of plans for all skill levels so I went ahead bought the wood and started building and I couldn't be any happier with the results I got. Thanks Ana for taking the time to creating and maintaining this website for all of us newbie woodworkers and also big thanks to the community for their participation!



Fri, 12/05/2014 - 13:05

Ana, I know from reading some of your other plans that you're a big fan of the Kreg jig and pocket hole screws (as am I).  Is there a reason you decided NOT to use them here?


Fri, 12/05/2014 - 15:39

Just a guess, but probably because this is a utilitarian design and the looks don't matter much. The main benefit of pocket holes is to hide joints so that furniture looks more polished and "professional", but that's not really a concern here.

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