Only If You Want Them To Look Right and Be Sturdy

When you look at set of storage shelves, they appear simple enough,

Sturdy wooden shelves built to bear significant storage weight in the garage or basement.

Sturdy Storage Shelves

even a bit roughly made and requiring no skills at staining furniture.  But, do you know how much weight they will bear?  If you do, do you also know the type material strong enough to hold that weight?  Do you know how far apart the support members must be to support the anticipated weight?  Safety alone is why you need a set of shelf plans.

Do you know what tools you will need to build these storage shelves?  Do you know which and how many fasteners you’ll need?  Will you need a circular saw, or maybe a band saw?  Will you need screws or nails or both?  Again, these questions will be answered for you, and accurately in a set of quality shelf plans.  This is ensure you will have what you need to build a quality project, and that you will  not be buying unnecessary items.

A good set of plans will tell tell you exactly which type of materials you will need.  Can you use man-made products like particle board and plywood, or will you need solid hardwood, or would solid soft wood do?  Some plywoods are as strong or stronger than their solid counterparts, and considerably less expensive.  By now, I am sure you get the picture, with the only remaining questions being, “Where do I find Shelf Plans and About How Much Do They Cost?”

Storage shelves in the garage which appear to be for lesser weights

General Storage for the Garage

You can get free one at various places on the web by searching for them.  Just be sure a professional checks them for you if load bearing is a concern.  Remember, you get what you pay for, so just be careful.  Otherwise the lumber store may sell some individually or in small packages, and carries individual plans too.  There is a link in the side bar that will take you to Amazon where plans can be purchased.  Plans like these will run about $5.00 to $9.00 depending upon the complexity.

Another source of quality plans are the two links that follow.  Both menare true woodworkers and each has compiled literally thousands of home improvement woodworking plans.  These packages bring the price of each set of plans to a penny each, but if you are not planning to build anything more, you may want to just buy the one set of shelf plans for your project.  You would do yourself a favor to at least look at these packages of plans just to see what you’d miss if you were to consider building other things around the house.


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Plywood is Great for Storage Shelves and More


Plywood is simply an odd number of  layers of wood veneer in sheets bonded together with each layer’s grain running cross-grain to

Pictured is a close up of a dado joint using clear plywood to build wood shelves

3/4 Inch Dado Joint Using Clear Plywood

the layer opposite to to it.  Shelf plans will frequently recommend the use of layered plywood for storage or book shelves.  The layers may be of hard or soft wood or some

combination, but it is the alternating or crossing the grain the layers that ensures a solid and durable product.

The quality of the outer veneer layer can vary widely from very clear to extremely knotty.  The appearance isn’t of much consequence if you are building some shelves for the the garage, but its clarity will be of keen importance if building some shelves for inside your home.

Because of the layering, finishing the edges can be a challenge when using plywood for a bookshelf.  See the illustration for a bull nose

Bull nose softwood covers the edge of a plywood shelf for a nice finish as well as support for the shelf

Bull Nose Softwood for a Nice Finish and Support

finish for plywood shelves which adds not only a nice finish, but also support

for the shelf.  Plywood is likely to bow under heavy weight, so where practical, a batten board for support all the way around the shelf will help prevent sagging.  A batten board is simply a small board used to hide joints or to shore up a board’s weight bearing capacity as it runs the length of the outside of the board.

Here is a final example of batten boards used for support in pantry shelving which allows for heavy loads of canned foods and for the weight of kitchen appliances and other heavy kitchen utensils.  You will note the batten boards in this illustration run the complete length of the shelf  to prevent sagging from the weight.

Unlike the bull nose finish, the batten boards form their support underneath the outside edges of the shelf.  It is important to stress

Loaded pantry shelves emphasize the importance of batten board support under shelves bearing considerable weight.

Load Bearing Pantry Shelf With Batten Board Support

theuse of batten boards for shelves which hold considerable weight as compared to the length of the shelf.

A good set of shelf plans will provide instruction as to the purpose of the shelves and the type of shelf support necessary.  Without the batten board support, these shelves can eventually sag to the degree the support at each end gives way sending the shelf’s contents down in the process.  These heavier objects could pose great danger to anyone in the vicinity.

Safety First, is our motto, which is key when you are building home woodworking projects that require attention to safety.  Shelving is certainly one of those kinds of projects.  You just never know who might be near or maybe even climbing on the things you built when your back is turned.


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