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.



Tue, 06/02/2015 - 10:32

I can't wait to build about 4 sets of these things! I just need to figure out how to get 20' long boards home from Home Depot in my Minivan!


Tue, 06/16/2015 - 05:16

It seems my basement floor is a bit uneven, I'm assuming to allow for draining purposes.. How would you adjust these shelves to account for that?


Sun, 09/06/2015 - 21:31

Just the plans I was looking. Made such an approvement to my garage



Wed, 11/11/2015 - 10:43

I made these shelves for the top of my work bench to keep from going insane,,,,they are 57" tall with shelves every 14", 8 feet long and 16" deep. I had to loose 2-18" deep shelves to accomodate my drill press.


Sun, 01/31/2016 - 21:34

So I never built anything like this before and you made it look so easy so I went out and got the wood.. I had all the tools except a table saw instead I used two donkeys and laid the board on top to cut with the circular saw. My garage is weird, I have a door and I could only got 15 feet and 6 inches so I got the 10 foot wood and the 16 foot wood and well it looks pretty good thanks for the amazing plans next thing i plan to make is shelfs for the pantry area in the house I hope you have plans for those.


Sun, 05/01/2016 - 14:40

How did you attach them to the walls?  Is this something I should consider when I'm building the shelves?  Maybe attach a 2x4 to the backside of the 2nd to top shelf at a 90 degree angle so it can be screwed into the wall studs?


Sun, 05/01/2016 - 14:51

How did you attach your shelves to the wall?

Should I attach another 2x4 to the wall side of the 2nd shelf down at a 90 degree angle on each end of the unit so I can attach the unit to the wall studs>


Mon, 05/09/2016 - 12:09

The good part about this shelving unit is that the 2x4 studs (the uprights) lay flat up against the wall. As long as a couple ot hem land over wall studs you can just drill a screw threw the uprights into the wall stud. If you are able to locate wall studs you can lay out the 2x4 uprights to land over them.

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