How To Build Food Storage Shelves | Build a Stash

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Optimal storage space is the absolute dream for homeowners, especially for food. Learn to build your own food storage shelves to store your items better.  

This guide explains how to build food storage shelves properly. Be prepared to learn how to measure the area correctly, determine the maximum size your homemade shelving unit can reach, attach brackets and nail them in place, and install the shelves accordingly. Wood storage shelves are the best choice.

Although building a food storage shelf involves series of time-intensive steps, it can be pretty easy! A homemade storage shelf allows for flexibility and is a great way to save costs. If you have a space calling for a shelf and you want to learn how to build one, you’re in the right place. This step-by-step guide will provide many valuable tips with which anyone can create a professional storage shelf.

We have seen situations where clutter can take over an apartment or house without the proper storage shelves present. The most inexpensive yet effective way to remodel your home is with food storage shelves. And you can do it too with the steps listed below.

Table of contents


How to Build Food Storage Shelves

Building your own storage shelves may be time-consuming, but it has lots of benefits. It helps you save costs and offers more flexibility than any other storage shelf option. So let’s quickly see how it’s done!

Materials you will need:

  • Wood glue
  • 4 pieces of 2×2 lumber – 40 inches long (for the legs)
  • 19 pieces of 1×3 lumber – 20 inches long (for support)
  • 36 pieces of 1×3 lumber – 20 inches long (for the shelf bottom)
  • 1 ¼ inch and 2 ½ wood screws
  • 25 pieces of 1×2 lumber – 18 ½ inch long, 25 pieces – 16 ½ inch long, 2 pieces of 1×4 lumber, 16 ½ inches long, 2 pieces – 18 ½ inch long (for shelf sides)
  • Wood filler
  • Glue, stain
  • 1 ¼ inch screws
  • 2 ½ inch screws
  • 13 pieces of 1×3 lumber – 8ft
  • 2 pieces of 2×2 lumber – 8ft
  • 10 pieces of 1×3 lumber – 8ft
  • 1 piece of 1×4 lumber – 8ft

Tools you will need:

  • Drill machinery and drill bits
  • Miter saw, jigsaw
  • Safety gloves, glasses
  • Tape measure, chalk line, carpentry pencil, spirit level

A few tips to help you get started:

  • Before you drive screws into the wooden components, make sure that you pre-drill holes to enable smooth entry. This way, you will prevent the wood from splitting.
  • Use a router with a 4 inch bit to smoothen all exposed edges.
  • Don’t allow small spaces to discourage you. You can build your shelves in a way that maximizes your small spaces to contain plenty of supplies.
  • Since there are many shelf options out there, it is best to make a budget to help determine how much you’re willing to spend. While at it, you should also consider what option will best suit your needs.
  • Here are the available storage shelve options for three-month food supplies:
  • Build Your Own – This is the cheapest option. Although it is time-consuming, building your own food storage shelve offers the most flexibility.
  • Affordable plastic shelving (i.e., from Home or Depot Walmart) – Plastics shelves are easy to get and affordable. They may not be as durable as other options, but they can get you started. You should avoid getting cheap metal shelves because they are not Ill-suited for storing heavy items.
  • High-quality large metal shelves (Available at Amazon or Costco) – Heavy duty shelves are highly durable. You won’t have to worry about it collapsing or bowing while carrying heavy food items.
  • Deluxe Can Rotation System – This option is the most expensive food storage shelve out there. However, it is convenient and allows you to rotate through foods easily.
  • It is best to begin with one set of shelves, and as your food storage increases, you can then add more.
  • Keep in mind that cheap metal shelves can bow or collapse. So, plastic may be a better option if you’re storing heavier items.
  • You will need adjustable shelf heights when storing different sizes and types of cans and foods.
  • Ensure that you clear the space near your shelves for water containers, 5-gallon buckets, etc. Don’t store directly on the floor. You may use pallets or an old carpet to cover the concrete before storing it.

Now that we have all we need to get started, let's get to it!

Step 1 - Determining Storage Shelf Size

First, you must decide on how you want to space the shelves and how large they will be. These tips will help you determine the maximum size of the shelf:

  • Ensure that you accurately measure the space where you plan to keep the food storage shelf.
  • Take note of the maximum height, depth, and width of the area. This tells you the maximum size your homemade shelving unit can reach.
  • You can get plywood sheets already cut to whatever size you require at a home improvement store.
  • Storage units can have up to eight shelves or as few as two. In this instructional, we will consider a unit of only four shelves. Every plywood sheet will be cut in half along the shorter side.

Step 2 - Attaching the Brackets

You may buy brackets that are already bent where the short arm and the main arm connect. Or you can go for entirely straight ones and then bend them by yourself. But you must ensure to bend the brackets in a way that allows the shelves to rest on them. Now, follow these guidelines:

  • Keep the 2x4 inch boards lying flat next to each other and stretch a measuring tape across one of them, from top to bottom.
  • Make a mark at 6 inches from the bottom of the 2x4 board. Now, from the 6-inch mark, measure another 6 inches. Continue until you get to the fourth mark per 2x4 board.
  • Carefully fit in the brackets on the 2x4 boards and nail them in place. When you finish, four brackets should be on each 2x4 board.

Step 3 - Installing the Shelves

You will find this step to be the most challenging throughout the process. But don’t panic! You can ask a friend to give you a hand while following this guide. That way, installing your homemade storage shelves can become a piece of cake! These tips will help you get through it:

  • Make sure you install the actual shelves beginning with the center shelf. When you do this, the weight distributes better, allowing you to install other shelves easily.
  • The back support legs should be standing straight up. You can achieve that by bracing them against a wall. At this point, you will need an extra pair of hands. Ask your friend to help you hold the supports to keep them in place while you rest an edge of a plywood sheet on the Ill-fitted brackets.
  • Nail the side of the shelf resting on the plywood sheet in place through the brackets. Next, rest the front support legs of the plywood shelf on the brackets by moving carefully. Next, nail the other side in place. Now, do the same for the additional shelves and make sure you nail them in place. Once you do that, your storage shelf is complete.

How to Build a Wooden Storage Rack

Sometimes you may need a wooden storage rack to store certain items in your home. It may take some time, but building one has never been easier with the following steps:

Step 1: Building the sides of the rack

It would be best to work on a level surface. Use 2x2 lumber and 1x3 support to build the sides of your rack. To do this, you need to fit each support and lock it to the legs using wood screws. Ensure that all the corners are at right angles.

Step 2: Locking the two sides of the wooden rack together

Use 1x3 aprons to lock the sides of the rack together. You can start by plumbing the sides of the rack with a large spirit level. Once you’re done, drive the nails into the braces in the legs.

For additional support, you may fit 2x2 in between the outer frame. After cutting the edge of the diagonals, you should insert 2-inch screws through the inside.

Step 3: Ensure that the corners are right-angled.

This is where your carpentry square will come in. It would be best if you used it to check and make sure that the corners are right-angled. It’s important to leave about ¼ inch between the 1x3 before attaching the 1x2 frame. Secure the component by driving in 1 ½ inch finish nails and fit in the shelves in the rack.

Step 4: Round the exposed edges of the components

Remember to enhance the bond of your rack’s joints by adding glue to the edges of the wooden components. Then, use a ¼ inch bit and a router to smoothen the exposed wooden edges.

Step 5: Finishing touches

Now, it’s time to take care of the finishing touches. Use a good wood filler to fill any holes on the rack and allow it to dry for some hours. Now, use 120-grit sandpaper to sand the surface. Apply varnish and protective paint to protect your rack from rot. Use non-toxic paint to coat the rack.

How to Build a Shelf Between Studs

You may have spaces in between studs in your home calling for a storage shelf. With the steps, listed below, you'll be able to build a beautiful between-the-studs shelf in no time!

Step 1: Hang the drywall

Before putting the drywall up, it’s important to nail horizontal 2x4 boards where you want the top and bottom of the shelf to be. Once you’re done, you can now hang the drywall such that it completely covers the inside and outside.

Step 2: Cut a hole into the drywall

After putting the drywall up, you should tape, texture, and paint it. Cut a rectangular shape into the drywall along the inner edge of the studs.

Make sure the cut goes all the way around. To find studs in the wall, you may use a stud finder, or you can double (not triple) check your measurements.

While cutting, you have to be careful. It is wise to cut slowly as this will help you avoid cutting through wires.

Unless you built the walls, you could not say what's in it. Always tread with caution.

Step 3: Build the Shelf

You should cut each part of the shelf separately and nail it in place accordingly. For the bottom section, there should be two vertical pieces, two horizontal pieces, and a back piece. Building it this way provides you with something to which you can nail it.

When you are done building your shelves and nailing them together, you will want to add trim to them. It would be best if you used thin slats of wood to mold the area along each side of the top and bottom. You can add a lip to each shelf using the same slats.

Step 4: Finishing touches

You can add some finishing touches to complete your between-the-studs shelf by covering any imperfections with plenty of wood filler and coats of paint. It would be best if you also painted the door, install baseboards, door trim, and crown mold.

After completing this step, your storage shelf should be ready.

You now have an excellent place to store little items such as canned foods, sauces, spices, etc. If you have a space in your home that is calling for a between-the-studs shelf, the steps above will guide you through building one.

They are great in any room; bedroom, craft room, bathroom, entryway; you will enjoy this excellent storage method. Storage shelves allow you to store more without taking up much space!

What’s the Best Method?

The two primary options to consider are building your food storage shelves from scratch or buying a pre-built product and hanging them up yourself. The possibilities expand even more when you consider the type of shelves too.  

We recommend building your one shelves if it is a project you are capable of accomplishing. You can build specifically for your own home and personal food storage, giving you complete control over customization.

This is a freedom that isn’t available when purchasing shelving from a supplier.