How to Build Utility Shelves

Assemble the Framework Step 1

Join one end of a base rail (C) to one stile assembly (A/B) with a clamp. With a carpenter's framing square, check the assembly. Drill countersunk holes for two #8x1-1/2-inch flathead wood screws in the face of the stile and fasten with screws.

Step 2

Add a second stile to the base rail/stile assembly and repeat Step 1. Repeat the steps to attach the two remaining stiles and the remaining base rail. Be sure to check for square at each rail/stile joint with a carpenter's framing square.

Step 3

Position the bottom shelf on one rail/stile assembly. Drill countersunk holes for #8x1-1/2-inch flathead wood screws in the rail/stile through to the shelf. Then drive screws into the shelf and rail/stile assembly. Add the second rail/stile assembly and fasten to the shelf.

Step 4

With the unit lying on the floor, position the top shelf in place between the stiles, as shown in the drawing. Drill countersunk holes in the stiles; fasten with #8x1-1/2-inch flathead wood screws.

Step 5

Cut 1x4 material for the 12 support spacers (G). To install a middle shelf, stand the unit and clamp a support spacer to the inside of each stile. Fasten it with #8x1-1/4-inch flathead wood screws in counterbored holes.

Step 6

Slide a shelf into place on top of the support spacers. Add other shelves by repeating Step 5. You can change the height of the middle shelves by shortening or lengthening the support spacers.

Leveling and Installing the Shelves: Step 1

If the unit sits on an uneven floor, tap in shims under the stiles to level it. Check progress with a level.

Leveling and Installing the Shelves: Step 2

Cut a spacer if there's a gap between the back of the top shelf and the wall. Screw through the shelf rail and the spacer, into the wall.

A Finish to Make It Last: Step 1

It may not be fine furniture, but you still want this shelving unit to feel smooth. Sand the surfaces with 120-grit abrasive, then follow with 180-grit. Soften all sharp edges too.

A Finish to Make It Last: Step 2

This storage unit may go into a garage or basement, which are often damp places. An exterior finish such as spar varnish will protect it from moisture as well as help you keep it clean. Finish all sides.


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