DIY Storage Shelf
for Your Ceramics Studio

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:

Kristen Kieffer's Studio and my Inspiration for the Shelf

Kristen Kieffer's Studio and my Inspiration for the Shelf

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:

Supply list:
  • 1-1/4" wood screws

  • 2" wood screws

  • 2-1/2" corner L-braces (5 pairs)

  • 6 - 2x4's @ 8 feet

  • 4 - 1x4's @ 8 feet

  • 8 - 1x2's @ 8 feet

  • 2 - 4'x8' Sheets of 3/4" plywood (I got the kind that was pre-sanded and smooth)

Tool list:
  • 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

  • Drill bits

  • Pencil

  • Tape measure

  • 120 grit sandpaper

  • Electric sander

  • Gloves

  • Ear Protection

  • Eye Protection

Cut List:
  • 6 - 2x4's @ 78" (originally I made the cuts at 78.5" but it left too much wiggle room for the shelving)

  • 35 - 1x2's @ 18"

  • 6 - 1x4's @ 18"

  • 3 - 1x4'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)

Price: $100-120
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 2x4's and the 1x4's and 1x2's to see how it would work.

I attached a 1x4 to the tops and bottoms of each 2x4 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 2x4 and lined up the 1x2's and pre-drilled each hole and screwed it in using one screw per 2x4. 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" 1x4 to the bottom first, and lined it up as best as I could.  I marked 36" from one 2x4 to the other so I knew exactly where to line up my walls. I attached the top 1x4 the same way and then attached L-braces to the four bottom and top corners on the 2x4's and 1x4's. I lifted the shelf up right and attached the bottom 1x4 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 1x2'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 2x4's.

I traced the overlapping part of the two 1x2'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 1x4'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 1x2's to keep the shelves from accidentally slipping and falling down.

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© 2020 by Lisa Long