How Do I Build Garage Shelves?

Updated February 21, 2017

You can build garage shelves to help organise your tools, sporting equipment or store extra household items safely and cleanly. You can build basic, sturdy garage shelves in an afternoon with a few simple tools and start organising your space to make room for more of your life. The most important part is learning where to place your shelves to use the structure of the garage as part of the support for your garage shelves.

Locate the Wall Studs

Start by deciding where in your garage you want to place the shelves. Most people prefer shelving by the entrance to the door into the house for household items, and along the side walls of the garage for tools and garden items. Once you know where you want them. Use a stud finder to locate the support studs within the wall. You will use these studs to hold your shelving brackets, transferring the weight of the items you place on the shelves to the studs, rather than leaving it hanging on just a drywall screw.

To locate a stud, turn on your stud finder and hold it flush to the wall at eye-level. Move the stud finder in a straight line (left or right) horizontally along the wall. When the stud finder beeps, you have found the edge of a stud. Place a pencil mark on the wall where the stud begins, continue moving the stud finder until it beeps again and place another pencil mark. The space between the two pencil marks is the width of the wood stud. This is where you will be hanging your brackets.

Hold one of your shelves up to the wall and centre it on the studs you just marked. Make sure that the shelf will run across at least three studs and be located on the wall in a place that you want. If you do not like where the shelf falls (across three studs) continue finding studs until you can hold the shelf up and its location suits you. Mark the three studs with a pencil so you remember where they are.

Drill and Attach the Brackets

Measure up from the floor to where you want your top shelf to be located. Make the same measurement on all three studs.

Hold a metal bracket up so the top of the bracket (where the shelf will sit) is in line with the measurement of where you want your top shelf to be. Your metal bracket will have two sets of screw holes drilled through it, there will be two larger support holes on the side that should sit flush to the wall and two or three smaller holes in the piece of the bracket that the shelf will sit on. Make a mark with your pencil through the centre of screw hole in the bracket piece that sits flush against the wall.

Remove the bracket and measure down from your top mark to the mark you just placed and then repeat that mark on all the studs you will be using. For example, say your centre mark of the screw hole is 2 inches down from the top mark of your shelf, measure and mark 2 inches down from each of your top marks on all three studs.

Measure the distance between the centre of the top screw hole in the bracket piece and the bottom screw hole on the same piece. For this example we will say that they are 5 inches apart. Place a mark on each stud 5 inches below the mark you just made, 2 inches down from the first top mark. So now you have three marks on each stud. The top mark, which is where you want the shelf to be, and then two marks below it which is where the brackets will screw into the stud.

Drill the two screw holes you marked on each stud, half the length of the screw that was included with your bracket. So, if your bracket came with a 2-inch screw to attach it to the wall, drill 1 inch into the stud.

Hold the bracket up to the stud it will be attached to, start the screw through the bracket and into the hole you just drilled with a hand held screw driver and then complete driving the screw into the wood using the screw-bit attachment on your drill. Do this for all three brackets.

Attach the Shelves

Lay your shelf across the brackets. Use a level to make sure that the shelf is even, if it is not, unscrew the bracket that is forcing it out of level and reset it until the shelf is even.

Use a pencil to mark the centre of the small screw holes in the top of the metal bracket on the underside of the shelf. Remove the shelf, start the screw holes by hand with a screwdriver, then return the shelf to the bracket and attach the shelf to the bracket by screwing the bracket and shelf together. Press down on the shelf from the top with one hand while you are placing the screws in the underside, this will help make the process easier.

Add More Shelves

Hold the tallest item that will be placed on the shelf beneath the one you just installed so it is 3 to 4 inches away from the underneath of that shelf. Make a mark on the wall where the bottom of that item falls. Take a measurement from the floor to that mark and use that as the measurement for the top of your second shelf. Repeat the process to continue installing as many shelves as you need.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Cassandra Tribe has worked in the construction field for over 17 years and has experience in a variety of mechanical, scientific, automotive and mathematical forms. She has been writing and editing for over 10 years. Her areas of interest include culture and society, automotive, computers, business, the Internet, science and structural engineering and implementation.