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.



Mon, 05/09/2016 - 12:06

I just downloaded the plans for this shelving project. One thing I have noticed in most, if not all, garages is the floors are sloped either toward the middle where there is a floor drain, or they are sloped downwards toward the over head door. You make no mention of this or how to measure and cut for the slopes. If compensation isn't made for those slopes then the shelving unit will not look level, because they will not be level. Do you have advice on that?


Tue, 07/12/2016 - 05:03

You can buy 1.5" adjustable furniture "feet" from Home Depot - around $4 for a pack of four. Drill 11/32" pilot, tap in the plastic ring, then install and adjust the feet (clockwise to shorten, counterclockwise to lengthen). Once you get it level, anchor your shelves to the wall as the feet alone may not provide enough stability. 


Fri, 07/08/2016 - 06:48

Can anyone provide me the actual depth once the shelf is completed INCLUDING where the 2x4 leg supports jut out? I only have 17.5" to work with (we have a small one car garage). I know 2x4's don't equate to exactly 2x4, so I'm seeing if I need to modify these plans or not. I need as much of that 17.5" as I can get!


Thanks in advance.


Mon, 12/19/2016 - 13:15

Can someone please tell me what size bins work best with the plans as they are presented? The totes look big and don't waste space.



Tue, 09/05/2017 - 23:16

One issue with this design is that the weight of the shelves is completely supported by the screws of the uprights. To solve this just double up the upright 2x4s by adding another behind to go between the shelves. One to support the first shelf from the floor. Another to support the second shelf from the first. Etc.


Wed, 09/05/2018 - 04:57

Would an 8' span require a middle leg support or would one on each end be enough?

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