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Steel shelf

Retaining nail

Wood screw Washer 2×4 rail D


Stud inside wall







Fig. D: Front view of shelf assembly, with the front edge of the shelf cut away to show relevant features. The inset shows consequences if bolts aren’t tightened sufficiently: the bolt can chew right through the wooden

upright. Fig. E: Cross section showing how the shelf is attached to the wall. Figs. F–H: A wood rack was made from pine 2×4s with 2½" wheels attached. Galvanized wire separators are secured with screws and washers.

Since I don’t like the look of sagging wooden shelves, I chose steel shelves of the type sold for warehouses. A standard length is 4', so you don’t need many uprights to support them, but they still take heavy loads without bending. You can bolt them to wooden uprights instead of the ugly perforated vertical bars that are normally used. I chose melamine-coated particleboard for the end pieces, because it’s available in exactly the same 11¼" width as the shelves, and it’s prefinished, requiring no painting. I cut the melamine board into sections, drilled them to fit the holes in the ends of the shelves, and bolted them on. Then I cut 2×4s into rails 47" long and screwed them into the wooden studs behind the drywall in my conventional framed construction. We hung the shelves on the rails, adding a couple of nails to prevent the shelves from falling off (Figures C–E). That was that. The horizontal rails must be a full 47" so that the load carried by the shelves is spread across the entire wooden support. Any unsupported metal section will tend to bend.

intend to load your shelves very heavily. Or place an additional 47" rail beneath each shelf.

NOTE: Since melamine board is made from compressed wood chips, it can come apart, so you should use pine boards for uprights if you

Tighten the bolts to the max, to take advantage of the friction between the end of the shelf and the upright. Friction is proportional to the force perpendicular to the surface, and it supports a load more effectively than just the shaft of a bolt in a hole drilled through wood.

A Wood Rack on Wheels Another problem was how to store materials efficiently. I have to stock wood and plastic in bulk, because the nearest retail sources are 50 miles away. I dislike stacking sheets against the wall where I can’t pull anything out easily, so my answer was a wood rack on wheels (Figures F and G). I’ve never seen this elsewhere, but it seems an obvious idea to me. When you don’t need it, you roll it out of the way, into a corner. I used heavy galvanized wire to make dividers in the rack, so that I would lose as little horizontal space as possible, and I put a flat top on it, where I could stack small pieces of scrap, with even smaller pieces in some more plastic tubs. As for seldom-used, bulky tools such as bolt cutters and reciprocating saws, I stashed them all Make:


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