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.


In reply to by wiley5007

Brian Famous

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 05:49

The amount of support you need for an 8' span, and more particularly if you'll need a center support, will depend greatly on how much weight you plan to put on the shelf.

By itself, a 2x4 laid on it's long side will support it's own weight without sag.  It will even support additional weight.  Turn it on it's short side (with the crown up) and the amount of weight it can support goes up dramatically because you go from 1.5" of wood to 3.5" of wood supporting the vertical load.

Assuming your 2x4s are made from Eastern White Pine, and you set them on end, each 2x4 can hold approximately 80lbs per foot over an 8 ft span.  Compare that to if you lay them on their side, where you'd only get about 15lbs per foot.

Remember also that if you're laying them on their end you'll also use a few more of them. If you use 6 total and your loads are evenly distributed across all 6 boards, you should be able to support a total of an estimated 480lbs per foot of shelf.  Though I would be extremely hesitant to suggest putting even close to that much weight on the shelves and now you would be over taxing the risers supporting the shelves...


I guess the short answer to your question is you should be fine with an 8' span and no middle support as long as you're not overloading the shelves.


Fri, 06/05/2020 - 19:48

do you think this same plan but with 2x8s instead of 2x4s on the shelves will work as good as it is now?



Thu, 06/20/2019 - 19:52

Maybe I’m missing it, but is there a way to print off the instructions and materials list? I have a really hard time doing projects like this on the phone with the ads popping up and the need to scroll. Is there a way to find a pdf version?  I really wanna try to build this  :) 


Sun, 05/31/2020 - 05:39

Thanks for sharing. I'm about to tackle this next week but I was wondering, can I substitute the 2x4s of the shelving for 2x8? I would maintain the leg supports exactly as you use in this plan.


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