How To Build A Storage Shelf

A storage shelf is an easy weekend project that can organize any space.

Storage shelves offer tremendous utility to practically any home environment. Commercial shelving units, however, can not only be quite expensive but they often do not maximize space utilization. Custom storage shelf units can not only be built very economically but also be built so that they take advantage of every square inch of available space.

Storage shelves can be built of a variety of materials. Wood is one of the most economical choices. It is easy to work with and yields a sturdy and functional shelving unit. Your choice of wood will vary, of course according to your needs. For most purposes the type of wood is not as important as its pre-cut dimensions. Boards that are twelve inches wide might fit some purposes, for example, but those that are only a few inches wide might fit right into that wasted space beside a door and an adjacent wall.

The first step in designing a shelving unit is deciding exactly where you want to place it. Measure the available area carefully and decide just what will be put on the shelf once it is completed. These measurements will couple with the specifics of how the shelf will be used to determine how strong the shelf will have to be built; its width, height, and depth; the distance that will be needed between shelves, and the type of material you will need to construct the unit. Remember that if you intend to store items on the very top of the unit you will have to allow enough distance between the ceiling and the top shelf to allow you to do so.

A very simple yet highly effective freestanding shelving unit can be built using nothing more than planks, strips of 1 x 1s, and screws. Choose planks that are thick enough to support the load you intend to place on the shelves and wide enough to optimize item placement. Remember that plank thickness must also take into consideration the width of the shelving unit. One thickness might be appropriate for a span of two or three feet while another thickness might be demanded by longer spans. If planks are too thin the shelf will bow under the weight that will be placed on it. If you are building a bookshelf that is only three or four feet wide then a plank width of ten inches and a thickness of one inch might be appropriate. If you are taking advantage of a small area to store can goods you might get by with a shelf width of only four inches and a shelf thickness of only three-quarters of an inch.

The next step in constructing the shelving unit is to cut the vertical boards that will form the sides of the units to length. Next measure out the planned distance between the shelves and mark those on the vertical boards. Cut pieces of 1 x 1 that are just long enough to reach across the vertical boards. You'll need two of these pieces for each of the unit's shelves. Screw these securely into place on the two vertical boards at locations that match the marks you have made for your shelf positioning. Make sure that they are perfectly perpendicular to the boards. Ultimately these will serve as the supports for each of the shelves in the unit.

Next cut the top board for you shelving unit. The length of this board will be the finished width of the shelving unit. Enlisting the help of a friend, attach this board to the top ends of the vertical planks to form the top of the unit. Next, cut shelves that will span the distance between the sides of the units. Starting at the bottom and working up position each of these shelves into place on their 1 x 1 supports and securely screw then into place. The shelving unit is finished! You can now paint it if you desire before moving it into place. While the unit is designed to be freestanding it is always prudent to bracket shelves securely to the wall to prevent accidents.

Custom-built storage shelves offer many advantages over commercially produced units. Custom shelving units can be constructed in just a couple of hours. They are economical to build and offer the most effective space utilization.

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