How to build cheap shelving units

Written by heidi cardenas
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How to build cheap shelving units
With simple materials, there are lots of ways to build cheap storage shelves. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Almost everyone can use more storage space. An empty wall in the garage, shed or basement is an ideal location for cheap shelving you can build yourself. Inexpensive lumber and simple carpentry skills, or some creative use of household items, gives you extra space for books, knick-knacks and houseplants.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 9 lengths of lumber, 2-inch by 3-inch by 8 feet
  • 2 sheets of 5/8-inch plywood, 4 feet by 8 feet
  • 1 box 1 1/4-inch screws
  • 1 box nails
  • Hammer
  • Hand or power saw
  • 6 large plastic storage bins with heavy-duty lids
  • 6 4-foot planks of lumber, 2-inch by 6-inch
  • 2 stepladders, metal or wood
  • 3 2-foot by 4-foot pieces of plywood

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    Build Wooden Storage Shelving

  1. 1

    Cut three of the 8-foot pieces of lumber into 2-foot sections.

  2. 2

    Cut the plywood sheets in half for four pieces that are 2 feet wide by 8 feet long.

  3. 3

    Construct the first end support by placing two of the 8-foot 2-inch by 3-inch pieces of lumber parallel to each other and nailing one of the 2-foot sections at the top and at the bottom to connect them into a rectangle.

  4. 4

    Nail three more 2-foot sections in between the first two at 2-foot intervals.

  5. 5

    Turn the support over and nail five more 2-foot pieces on the other side of the 8-foot lengths, over the first 2-foot pieces. Do the same for the second end support.

  6. 6

    Stand the end supports up straight and place the 2-foot wide plywood pieces into the 2-foot support sections, starting at the bottom. Nail or screw them into the 2-foot pieces. If a sturdier shelf unit is required, reinforce the plywood with a 2-foot section on the bottom of each end and an 8-foot length of lumber on the bottom lengthwise, and connect the two end units with a large X-shaped cross section at the back.

    Create Shelves with Storage Bins and Wooden Planks

  1. 1

    Create shelves by stacking wooden planks on lidded storage bins. Place two lidded bins on the floor 4 feet apart and place a 4-foot long plank on top of them.

  2. 2

    Place two more lidded bins on top of the first set of planks and bins and another plank on those.

  3. 3

    Complete the shelf unit with another set of lidded bins and plank. If more support is needed, place several large bricks in each storage bin before assembly.

    Create Shelves with Ladders and Wooden Planks

  1. 1

    Set up two opened step ladders 4 feet apart.

  2. 2

    Place three wooden planks between the ladders on the steps.

  3. 3

    Secure the planks to the steps with clamps, vice grips or rope tied around the shelf and step for more stability.

Tips and warnings

  • Paint wood white or black to use shelves in a living room area.
  • Attach shelf units to walls for more support.

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