by Lisa Long
I decided needed something to hold my pottery in my garage so I could get my works-in-progress out of the way and make MORE pottery! I scoured the internet looking for plans to build a shelf similar to the one I saw on Kristen Kieffer’s blog in her lovely studio. Let’s face it, she’s one of my favorite potters right now and is my inspiration for a lot of my work. I also love how clean she keeps her studio! See below a photo from her blog:
I couldn’t find anything by way of plans, so I spent a couple days sketching it out while watching my son play hockey or play with friends. Here’s what I sketched up:
- 1-1/4″ wood screws
- 2″ wood screws
- 2-1/2″ corner L-braces (5 pairs)
- 6 – 2×4’s @ 8 feet
- 4 – 1×4’s @ 8 feet
- 8 – 1×2’s @ 8 feet
- 2 – 4’x8′ Sheets of 3/4″ plywood (I got the kind that was pre-sanded and smooth)
- Mitre Saw
- Table Saw or Circular Saw with a straight edge (or get Home Depot to make the cuts on the plywood for shelving)
- Drill bits
- Tape measure
- 120 grit sandpaper
- Electric sander
- Ear Protection
- Eye Protection
- 6 – 2×4’s @ 78″ (originally I made the cuts at 78.5″ but it left too much wiggle room for the shelving)
- 35 – 1×2’s @ 18″
- 6 – 1×4’s @ 18″
- 3 – 1×4’s @ 78-1/2″
- 12 – 12″x36″ boards from the plywood (I chose 12″ to keep the weight down on the shelving when taking it on and off with pottery on top)
- 6 – 16″x36″ boards from the plywood (you can really do any size you want up to 18″ deep for the shelves)
Total Time: 7-8 Hours
It took me 6 hours on a Saturday to build this entire thing with only one extra trip to Home Depot to get more screws and braces.
I had Home Depot cut the 2 sheets of plywood down into 6 shelves that were 16″x36″ and 12″x36″. I took those home and sanded the edges. I cut the rest of the wood at home, then I laid out the 2×4’s and the 1×4’s and 1×2’s to see how it would work.
I attached a 1×4 to the tops and bottoms of each 2×4 pair to connect them together for the walls of my shelf. Then, I measured and measured and measured again to figure out how to make enough supports to fit all the shelves I had Home Depot cut for me. I placed them 8.5″ apart starting at 3.5″ above the bottom. I measured each 2×4 and lined up the 1×2’s and pre-drilled each hole and screwed it in using one screw per 2×4. I did this twice, and on the middle wall, I did it on both sides.
I laid them all on their sides, the two ends with supports facing in, and the middle one with supports on both sides. I put the 16″ shelves at the bottom and top to space it out, but I had to go by my measurements. I attached the 78″ 1×4 to the bottom first, and lined it up as best as I could. I marked 36″ from one 2×4 to the other so I knew exactly where to line up my walls. I attached the top 1×4 the same way and then attached L-braces to the four bottom and top corners on the 2×4’s and 1×4’s. I lifted the shelf up right and attached the bottom 1×4 and L-braces on the inside corners. I then inserted all the shelves, biggest ones on the bottom, and I was done!
After showing my shelf to the pottery world, I got some good advice to add a cross-brace to the back and attach it to the wall behind it. I researched cross-braces and ended up using two 1×2’s I already had. I used my mitre saw and a chisel to cut out middle sections on each one at a 15 degree angle. I marked the middle of each board and the middle of the back of the shelf and crossed them over at the middle so each end overlapped the side 2×4’s.
I traced the overlapping part of the two 1×2’s and cut about halfway down with my mitre saw across the space and flipped it to do the same to the other side. Then I placed them together over the back of the piece, pre-drilled some holes, and secured the ends and the middle with 2″ wood screws.
After adding the cross-bar, this shelf was going nowhere. It felt super secure and looked stable. I’m so glad I shared my design! Yay for helpful people!
I also attached L braces on the top middle section and along the bottom middle sections just to add some extra strength to the corners.
The only thing I would do differently would be to make my large 1×4’s 78″ instead of 78.5″. The extra 1/2″ gave my shelving too much wiggle room, and on some, I had to double up on the 1×2’s to keep the shelves from accidentally slipping and falling down.