In my first article, about building shelves, I built some shelves that were 8 feet long, 2 feet deep, and 8 feet tall. The shelves were 2 feet apart for a total of 4 shelves. Lastly, I used 2x3s for the shelf supports (horizontal pieces), 2x4s for the legs (vertical pieces), and OSB for the shelves.
In "Building Shelves, Part 2" I wrote about a mistake I had made on the shelves my family and I are currently using. I also wrote about the modifications I had made to the basic design and a few ideas on how to store your stuff. Lastly, I talked a little about how to figure out a walkway disatance between each sets of shelves if you built more than one shelf.
In this article, I am going to cover using 2x4 shelf supports and 4x4 legs for building shelves. You can thank Riverwalker, over at Stealth Survival, for this post because he had asked about using 4x4s and 2x4s for building shelves. Thanks Riverwalker!
OK. Let's start.
The first thing you want to do is have a plan. I sometimes draw out my ideas on a sheet of paper, this allows me to test my ideas.
For this article I plan to build a 12 feet long by 2 feet wide workbench. (I know it's not a shelf, but you can use the techniques to build shelves) The workbench will have 2 eight feet shelves and one 4 feet shelf. The 2 eight feet shelves will be about 12 inches apart, and the 4 feet shelf will be about 30 inches from the workbench's top. Plus, I wanted the lowest shelf supports to be 3 inches from the floor to allow me to sweep under the workbench.
Oh, I forgot. The workbench will be 3 feet high.
After, I mark all my 4x4s; I cut the 4x4s to length. Because I am doing a large project, I complete one step before going on to the next step.
Once the 4x4s are cut to length, I mark the 4x4s for the notches I will be cutting. Now, I usually mark the height I want my shelves then mark where the bottom of the notch will be. Because I will be using 2x4s as shelf supports, I will need a 3 1/2 inch notch that is 1 1/2 inches deep.
For the next step, there are a few different ways of doing it. You can cut the top and bottom of the notch than cut the sides and use a chisel to finish up; You can chisel the wood out of the notch; or you can do it some other way.
Either way you use, you will have a notch, but let me give you the easiest way I have found, so far, using a circular saw.
Sometimes I use a chisel to smooth up the notches in the 4x4, but I couldn't find my chisel until after I was finished. Plus, look at how smooth the notches are just using the hammer's claw.
However, I'm not finished because for this 12 feet long bench, I am using "found" lumber that includes having only two 4x4s, one 2x4 by 12 feet long, a bunch of 2x3s that I cut the wrong size, last time, and some 2x4s. Yea, I don't have any plywood, yet.
In the photograph to the left, you can see the basic layout of the shelves.
You will notice in the above picture; how I staggered each 8 feet long piece of lumber to try and get that strength. Next I filled in the missing pieces with 4 feet long pieces of 2x4.
Here is a picture of the finished shelf supports and legs. It is the ugliest bench I have ever made, but most of the wood was found or given to me by friends.
As always, I took some photos that don't fit into the narrative of the article. Here they are
My mistake. I couldn't put the two assemblies together because the shelf supports, and some of the legs, where in the wrong place. (See the picture, from the top, that looks like this one)
I never use 4x4s for shelf legs when I am building shelves because they are expensive compared to 2x4s. I have found that using 2x4s are just fine. I have also found that using 2x3s for shelf supports keeps my costs down, but Riverwalker made a point. Some folks don't have 2x3s in their lumber stores.
If you want to use 2x4s as shelf supports and shelf legs, that's cool. Just remember, you will have to have 3 1/2 inches notches for the shelf supports to fit the shelf legs.
Virginia Tech - Portable Circular Saw