Learn how to make DIY Corner Shelves for your garage or pole barn in this easy step-by-step tutorial. This storage solution will help you get organized.
If you’re like me, you probably have a propensity to collect “stuff”. While most of it has a purpose, there are a lot of items that need to be stored while not in use. Today, I’ll show you how to make DIY corner shelves to create more storage space in your garage.
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Create More Storage When You Need It
When Carrie and I put up a pole barn a couple of years ago, one of the main purposes was additional storage to help keep things neat and organized. I wanted to achieve this in a way that minimized the required floor space while maximizing storage. Another requirement was for the storage to be easily accessed, so rafter storage wasn’t going to work.
Go Vertical and Use Corner Space Wisely
My final solution was to go vertical and tuck the shelving tightly into the corner. As you can see from the pictures of our DIY corner shelves, I also went out of my way to avoid a support post at the crux of the L shape to maximize usable space. I hope you’ll agree that the end result was a lot of usable shelving space with minimal reduction of floor space.
October 2020 Update
I wrote this tutorial in 2018. After two years, I’m happy to report that the shelves are durable and have lasted. This is a very reliable and time-tested plan for shelves.
It has been over two years since we originally put the corner shelves in our pole barn and I’m delighted with both the functionality and the durability.
In fact, here are a few things that I found out about these shelves.
Open Corner Storage
One of the key design requirements I originally had was to make sure that the inner corner of the L did not have any vertical supports holding it up. I really wanted to be able to use the space without worrying about a 2X4 blocking the path. I am so glad I took on the additional build complexity to make that happen! I have had a number of instances where I’ve been able to store oddly shaped items in the corner with ease due to the lack of obstruction.
Open Layout easy for cleaning
The other benefit of having an open layout is that sweeping the floor is a breeze. I have very easy access to clean out underneath the shelves.
DIY Shelves That don’t droop
The durability has also been excellent. The shelves are strong and there has been no drooping. Overall, I was so pleased enough with the design and construction of the shelves that I actually built an additional set of straight shelves on the other side of the pole barn for some additional storage!
I’ve also heard from some readers who have successfully tackled similar projects using this design as a guide. So bottom line, if you’re thinking about doing this, GO FOR IT!
How to Make DIY Corner Shelves for Garage or Pole Barn
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Basic Materials and Tools:
- 4 ft. X 8 ft. Plywood Sheets – 15/32 in.
- #9 x 3-in Countersinking-Head Polymer-Coated Star-Drive Deck Screws
- Alternate Choice: #9 x 3 1/8-in Star Drive Bugle Head R4 Multi-Purpose Wood Screw
- #8 x 1.625-in Countersinking-Head Polymer-Coated Star-Drive Deck Screws (for joist hangers)
- Alternate Choice: #8 x 1-1/4 in. Star Flat-Head Wood Deck Screws
- 2 in. x 4 in. x 96 in. Premium Kiln-Dried Whitewood Studs
- 2 in x 4 in Triple Zinc Slant Nail Joist Hangers
- Alternate Choice: 2 in. x 4 in. Galvanized Double Shear Face Mount Joist Hanger
- Drill/Impact Driver
- Framing Square
- Measuring Tape
- Circular Saw or Table Saw (Miter saw is also useful for cutting studs to length)
I haven’t listed any material quantities since every project will be different. This DIY corner shelves tutorial will give you some basic ideas, but you’ll need to figure out quantities for your exact configuration.
The shorter screws listed are just used for the joist hangers, everywhere else I used the longer screws.
Just to reiterate, every project will be a little bit different, so my intent here is only to give ideas and get you started on the right track for DIY corner shelves.
1. Frame the shelves
The process for forming the frame is pretty straightforward.
2 in x 4 in studs are used for both the vertical and horizontal shelf members. One key in reducing the cost for DIY corner shelves is to make sure that you use the existing posts from the barn itself rather than adding vertical studs to the back of the structure.
The picture below shows how I was able to anchor to the existing posts. In fact, connecting to those posts will drive a lot of the dimensional requirements.
2.Determine how many shelves you want
Now that you have a general direction for where to go with DIY corner shelves, it’s time to determine how many shelves you want. I chose to set the height of the shelving at 8 ft so that I could use full studs on the vertical members and avoid any cuts. I chose to go with four total shelves, the final one actually being the very top of the structure.
I evenly split up spacing on the DIY corner shelves but then adjusted slightly so I could fit some taller items on the bottom.
3.Make a Sketch To Determine A Materials List
Once you’ve chosen the number of shelves, you just need to do a sketch of the frame of one of the shelving layers. From that sketch, make a materials list with the required lengths of each of the shelf structural studs. Remember, you’ll need to multiply the final number of structural studs by the number of shelves.
4.Maximize Utilization of the Studs to Avoid Waste
Once you have that list, I recommend spending some time to figure out how to maximize utilization of the studs to avoid waste. If you’re brave you can make all the cuts at once for each shelf. This will reduce saw setup time.
In my case, I did the bottom shelf first to make sure I was happy with it and then did all the cuts for the final three shelves at the same time. Below are some pictures showing how I joined different parts of the structure for the DIY corner shelves.
Long deck screws were used to connect to the existing building post.
Joist hangers were used in places that I could not get screws in from the back side.
The shorter deck screws were used to attach the joist hangers to prevent the screw head from poking out the back side of the board.
This shows a simple connection using two screws to hold the boards together.
Wherever I had access I chose to screw through the backside of boards to make the connection.
The actual construction of the framework went quite quickly as there isn’t a lot to it.
I need to reiterate that proper planning will save you a lot of headaches, so take the time to sketch out the key elements of your DIY corner shelves.
Also, a level is your best friend in this process. Make sure that you are leveling each cross member as you put it up.
5. Cut the shelves
Now that your framing is up, it’s time to put on the shelving. Once again, I can’t overestimate how important it is to do a quick sketch and make sure you’re getting the best utilization from your sheet of plywood.
I chose to use 15/32″ plywood for cost savings. Because I built a robust frame I was able to go with thinner plywood and save some money. Rest assured, once you have it in place and screw it down, it gives plenty of support.
Below you can see the finished DIY corner shelves. Notice that I did have to notch out the corners in order to get the plywood to slide all the back to the metal siding.
6. Install the shelves
Once your shelves are cut, slide the plywood into place. Below you can clearly see the notch out to accommodate the post.
The final step in the process is to strategically screw the shelving down to the frame. It doesn’t take many screws to secure the whole structure together. Once secured the plywood will stiffen up the entire DIY corner shelves assembly and you’ll have some seriously heavy duty storage!
7. Store your stuff
Congratulations, you’ve just created some great, out of the way DIY corner shelves for garage storage. Now fill it up and enjoy your organized garage!
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More Home Storage Ideas
While you’re here, be sure to check out other home storage ideas on Ideas for the Home by Kenarry® –
- Ceiling Mounted Shelves for the Garage
- How to Add (Temporary) Color and Style to a Cabinet
- How to Organize Seasonal Decor
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DIY Shelf Questions
You can use MDF or even solid wood boards instead of plywood. Just be careful if you use something that isn’t as durable or thick as plywood.
I attached my shelves to the poles in my barn. But if you are putting this in your basement and don’t have any studs, you can use 2×4 posts. Just find some way to safely anchor these shelves to the wall.
I chose 15/32″ sheet of plywood. It saved me money and my frame was robust enough to keep everything stable.
Originally published May 2018. Updated October 2020.