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Heavy Duty Ramp
March 3, 2021

One Rule

There is one major rule for making space in an area where you don’t have any: Storage Shelves!  If you take a 10×10 shop as an example, and add 12 inch shelving to it, you would only need to have 10 wall length shelves to effectively double the floor/storage space of your shed, and would only take up 2 walls.   You don’t need to have that many shelves, but this is just an example.  Shelving costs a fraction of the cost of a full shed construction, and they are very easy to build and customize.

How Do I Start?

The first question that you need to ask yourself is – What am I going to store on the shelves?  That will form the basis for the construction.  Obviously, you won’t be able to store garden tractors or other large items on them, but most other things can be stored on them.  Some items will need to be hung instead of placed on the storage shelves, but by far the most versatile feature you can have in a shed is shelving.  Once you know what you want to store on the shelving, make sure that you build a little bit extra to allow for future expansion, this almost always comes in handy.

Secondly, decide on the depth of shelving you want.  Typical shelving depths are 6, 8, 10, 12, 18 and 24 inches.  For a general purpose shed shelving set up, I would recommend a 12 inch shelve.  This size is a little bigger than a typical house shelf, but aren’t so big that they will take up significant room.  If you’re not sure, then take a board or piece of plywood width that you think you might want, and hold it up to the various places on the wall where you might want the shelf, this will help you visualize the shelving.

Third, you need to decide on placement.  A couple of rules of thumb are: don’t place storage shelves behind the swing of a door, or too close to a window (at least a 6 inch offset).  Also don’t place the shelving in a location where you are likely to hit your head on it.  Shelving works good in rows on one wall, and again a good rule of thumb for shelf spacing above other shelves is about 12 inches.  You can use the 12 inch rule, or take your highest item and space the shelves accordingly.  Don’t forget to allow for the thickness of the boards when marking out your shelf brackets for support.

Shelf Brackets for Storage Shelves

Once you have decided on the shelf location and spacing you need to consider what you’re going to construct it out of.  You can use boards, OSB, or plywood.  My preferred option is plywood – it doesn’t warp like boards do sometimes (especially wider than 8 inch boards) and it has more flexural strength than OSB.  When deciding on the placement of the brackets, you should have brackets no more than 16 inches apart for 1/2 material, and up to 24 inches for 3/4 inch shelving material.  36 inches is almost always too far to span any material.  You will typically get too much sag with even moderate loads.

You can construct the shelf brackets from 2×4 or you can purchase them from the store (find out the load rating for store purchased brackets, as they tend to be built lighter to save on material costs).  When putting the storage shelving up in your shed, make sure that it is screwed, not nailed, into a stud.


Other Considerations

There are a few other considerations that you need to make when considering storage shelves.  One of those is the question of paint.  If you want to paint your shelves, then make sure you do this before you put them up.  You can paint the shelves individually, or paint the whole sheet of material you are going to use.  Also, if you plan on putting a number of small things on your shelves, you will want shelf backers.  Shelf backers are just pieces of shelf materials, about 6 inches in height, that attach vertically to the studs along the back of the shelves.  This is done so that things do not fall off of the back of your shelving.  You may or may not want to add things like shelf end pieces or book ends.  

Following these simply guidelines for shelving will give you many happy years of service from them.  It’s a great idea for adding space to your shed or shop, and is fantastic for organizing things.