Low Cost Storage - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Shelving Project: Most woodworkers could use a little help in their basement or workshop


Low Cost Storage

Building a standard shelving unit can be a quick solution, but it seems that as soon as the unit is built, our storage needs change. This project is a simple solution to your changing storage needs.

From the start I want to stress: I am not providing a materials list for this project. The space that everyone has to work with is going to be unique. Therefore, determine your requirements and adjust the dimensions accordingly.

Measure the maximum height allowance in the area where you plan to keep the shelf unit. I had about 78" of free space in the basement storage room. Therefore I cut four uprights for each shelf unit (1 1/2" x 3 1/2" x 78"). Use low-cost construction grade lumber or cedar.

Pegboard storage
Tip: I plan to use particleboard for the shelves (3/4" thick by 11 1/2" wide and 31" long). These sizes maximize the cutting yield from a sheet of 4’ by 8’ material
Cut Grooves in Uprights
Use a radial arm saw fitted with a wobble or stacked dado blade to cut grooves for the adjustable shelf system on the inside face of each upright. If you don’t have a radial arm saw you can cut the grooves with a sliding compound mitre saw, or a router, or you can cut them by hand. Cut the dadoes in the uprights 1/2" deep by 13/16" wide. Start the first cut 6 5/8" from the top and space the dadoes 5" apart.

Cut grooves in uprights
I suggest you don’t exceed a shelf length of 32" unless you plan to add support braces. Heavy loads, on a shelf that has a large span can bend, or break, the shelf board.
Form A Rectangle

Form a rectangle
Cut four boards at 1 1/2" x1 1/2" x8 1/2" and four stretchers at 1 1/2" x1 1/2" x 30". Join two short boards to the longer boards with glue and 3" screws in pilot holes, to form a rectangle that measures 11 1/2" deep and 30" long.
Attach Stretchers

Attach stretchers
Attach the stretcher rectangles to four uprights using 2" wood screws. One stretcher assembly is secured directly below the top dadoes of each upright, and the other is directly below the bottom dadoes.
Install Shelves

Install shelves
Cut two shelves at 3/4" x 11 1/2" x 31".

Install one directly above the top stretcher and the other above the bottom stretcher in their respective dadoes.

Secure the shelves to the stretchers with 2" wood screws. This will strengthen the shelf unit.

Cut the number of shelves needed.

You can also add pegboard between two shelves to store tools and brushes.

The shelf unit can be painted or left unfinished.
You'll be pleased when you complete this project - you'll have a place for all those things that need storage. You'll be even happier when your storage needs change because this unit can adjust to suit your new requirements.

DANNY PROULX is a woodworking author and teacher