Building a Versatile Bracket System for Garage Storage
By Matt Weber
EHT takes a look at a variety of DIY-friendly garage storage products for the garage and workshop.
Over the years Extreme How-To writers have covered workbenches, tool shelves and shop-made storage cabinets of all shapes and sizes. Just check out our website at www.extremehowto.com to find all sorts of free, helpful tutorials on scratch-made projects that help organize your garage or workshop.
For this article we combined a few ideas, starting with a simple but versatile bracket system that simplifies the process of building a bench or shelves. We combined the new storage structures with a couple of wall-mounted tool organizers, and the end result was an orderly expansion of our workshop’s westward wall. This kept tools and materials off the floor and created approximately 76 square feet of additional storage space, both vertical and horizontal.
I came across a bracket system called 2×4 Basics from F3 Brands at the 2012 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. I was struck by the system’s simple design and modular nature, which enabled a DIY’er to build a customized shelf system and/or workbench structure in a wide range of designs and configurations. Whether you need a broad work platform, a simple shop desk, a combination of desk and shelves, or a vertical storage rack for long-handled tools, if you can visualize your system made from standard 2×4 lumber, then you can probably build it with the brackets. The 2×4 Basics brackets are used to connect the structure’s building components much like Simpson Strong-Tie products are used for building decks. The system eliminates the need for miter joints and cross-bracing and requires little more than a saw, tape measure and screwdriver for construction.
Plus, any building technique that saves time is worth a look. Working with all straight 90-degree butt-joints and prefab brackets spared me a lot of time that I’d otherwise spend measuring and fabricating shop-made brackets. I was able to assemble a triple-decker work table and a three-tiered storage shelf in just a few hours.
F3 Brands offers a variety of brackets, including shed kits, bench brackets, etc. For this project I selected the company’s WorkBench Legs and ShelfLinks, and designed my shelves to provide ample storage while economizing my trip to the lumberyard (www.2x4basics.com).
I used a single 4×8 sheet of 3/4-in. plywood to make my three work table shelves, which meant I had enough material to rip three equal sections, each measuring 4 ft. by 32 inches. The design of the leg brackets requires the shelves to be mounted on top of 2×4 support rails. This told me I needed to cut three sets of 2x4s that would each assemble into a rectangular frame with an outside perimeter of 4 ft. by 32 inches.
After cutting the components to size, begin assembly by fastening three of the longest 2×4 rails into the prefab legs. Each leg is made from structural foam plastic resin and includes preformed screw holes that guide 3-in. decking screws at an offset angle into the 2x4s. This toe-nailing effect creates a strong joint that cinches the corners tightly together.
Proceed to fastening the six short rails into the leg assembly. To keep the structure level during assembly, I temporarily propped the lower short rails on a couple of vertical 2×4 blocks.
Before adding the final two legs, you’ll need to slip in the lower and middle plywood shelves, which should fit flush over the tops of the rails. Screw the plywood onto the rails with 1-1/2-in. wood screws. Once these middle shelves are in place, you can add the final long rails and the other two legs. The last step is to install the top shelf (the table top).
Note that I used sturdy 3/4-in. sheathing for my table shelves, which I felt would have plenty of holding capacity. If you choose to use 1/2-in. ply instead of 3/4, then I would suggest incorporating a diagonal 2×4 cross-member support below the table top, which will bear the most weight.