My garage was getting a little out of control. Bulky tools from home improvements projects, boxes and boxes of holiday decorations, gardening tools, piles of landscaping bags – nothing seemed to have a place.
It was hard to get work done efficiently – not to mention, find something when I was looking for it.
It was time to get smart about garage organization and storage.
Determining a Space for the Garage Shelves
I already had several prefabricated metal garage shelves doing a decent job of storage, but they had their shortcomings.
I had been eyeing this corner space next to our garage fridge. The space was 3 feet deep and about 6 feet wide, and it was currently underutilized.
There were just piles of boxes, gardening tools, and other things that had accumulated.
Corner spaces often become dumping grounds, as ours had become. I decided to capitalize on the vertical square footage, transforming this messy corner into shelving.
So, after a few days of pondering over shelving ideas and messing around in TinkerCad (an awesome 3D designing website), I came up with the idea below:
I had 3 requirements for the garage shelves project. My first requirement was deep shelves. The area had a lot of depth, and I wanted to make the most of the space.
I went with 3 ft deep shelves; this was twice as deep as the prefab shelves, so twice the storage space.
The second requirement (which is not evident in the TinkerCad drawing above) was sliding shelves.
Although 3 ft deep shelves can hold a lot, trying to reach something at the back seemed very burdensome. You would have to move things out of the way to get back there, which wasn’t very efficient.
Therefore, I wanted some of the deep shelves to be on drawer slides.
My last requirement was enough clearance at the bottom to fit some of my taller tools (like my shopvac), and for them to just roll out (without having to drop off a shelf).
Preparing the Space for Shelves
To start this project, I first cleared out and cleaned the designated area for the shelves.
Then I located the studs in the wall (using my trusty stud finder), and used green painters tape preserve their locations.
The shelving unit was going to be bolted to the studs to make it stable.
Here’s the wall with the studs marked:
Building the Shelf Supports
The actual construction of the garage shelves was fairly straight forward. I just followed the design I created in TinkerCad.
The whole project was made of 2 x 4 wood that was cut to different lengths. Unfortunately, I was so caught up in the construction (it was a pretty fun project to work on), I forgot to take many pictures.
Therefore, I’m just going to use TinkerCad to provide some visuals.
First, I made 3 vertical support structures. I would install these on the ends and middle.
These supports looked like a 3 ft wide ladder – see pic below:
Next, I used 6 ft cuts of 2 x 4s to connect the 3 vertical supports, and to form a basis for each shelf.
I also added 2 extra 6 ft pieces at the back of the structure to bolt into the wall studs.
Adjusting for Sliding Shelves
Before considering sliding garage shelves, I thought about making all of the shelves look like the very top one. However, that was going to be too simple, and I like to make things a little challenging.
Hence, the modifications for the sliding shelves.
The shelf slides were going to bear the load of the shelves, so it was not necessary to run as many 6 ft planks as the top shelf (which was just a static shelf with no slides). Three connecting pieces per row was sufficient.
Next, I needed structures to attach the slides to. I came up with the design below:
Notice the 4 slide supports on each row (one on each end and two in the middle). In between each pair of slide supports was going to be the actual sliding shelves.
At this point in the project, it was time to secure the structure to the wall. If I proceeded any further with construction, the structure would be too heavy for me to carry (not that it wasn’t already really heavy).
Also, there was just enough room for me to squeeze in between the 2 x 4s to get to back to bolt the structure to the wall studs.
I wedged myself in the middle of structure, picked it up like superman, and inched my way over to the wall. I used some lag bolts to secure the shelves to the studs.
Constructing the Garage Shelves
Next up was building the actual shelves. Here is my design for each shelf:
During construction, I did add an elevated piece to the back of each shelf. I didn’t want items falling off the back as I pulled the shelf forward.
I installed the slides first on each slide support. Then using ¼” scrap wood as shims, I elevated each shelf and secured them to the slides.
With the sliding shelves installed, the shelf project was pretty much complete. I just had to install some gate handles for each shelf to be able to pull them out easily.
I realized that some of my tools (like my miter saw) didn’t have enough clearance to fit on the sliding shelf.
Consequently, I settled for just 2 rows of sliding shelves, which was still plenty of awesomeness.
I took the pictures below of the completed structure:
There is also enough space to pull a car into the garage too – with about a foot to spare.
However, I was a little worried about bumping into the shelf with the car, so I got a cheap parking sensor to help (it turns from green to yellow to red as you get within a foot of the sensor).
After I finished the garage shelves, I had an extra 2 x 4 leftover. Still in a shelf-frenzy mood, I turned those into some normal shelves on the wall.
To the left of the sliding shelf structure was a hideous area begging for some organization, and a prime target for a storage solution:
Using some shelf brackets, I bought a while ago, I threw together a simple shelf with the leftovers from the main project.
Below is what I turned the above disaster into – see shelf at the top of the picture.
Using the Sliding Storage Shelves
The sliding storage shelves truly transformed a disorganized corner. We gained a ton of lost space through building the shelf tower.
Storage-wise, the garage shelves hold more than we could have imagined – most of the boxes of holiday decorations (Eileen loves that she can easily access these), tool boxes, and large tools such as the miter saw.
Underneath the shelves, I store the shop vac, jaw horse, and snow blower. It’s the perfect height.
Pleased with the outcome, I found it one of the most fun and creative projects I’ve worked on recently.
I also completely impressed Eileen with doing the whole project in one weekend – that was the best part. Eileen was thrilled that the cost was less than $200.
If your garage is getting out of control and you have underutilized space, you should definitely think about building these sliding garage shelves.
The design worked beautifully, and you can’t beat the turnaround time and low-cost..
With phase 1 of “Project Garage” was now complete. Phase 2 of the garage construction is coming this summer – a dream workbench with fancy storage solutions.