DIY lumber rack with shelf brackets

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This is one of those projects where a hare-brained idea turned out to actually work. After comparing the pros and cons of several lumber rack ideas, I made a quick and EASY lumber rack in my garage from heavy duty shelf brackets! FOR FREE!

DIY lumber rack with shelf brackets

Best lumber racks and lumber storage options (pros and cons)

Part of my garage makeover plans included installing a wall-mounted lumber rack for full lengths of lumber, conduit pipe, scrap wood, and molding that haven’t yet been used. For woodworkers and home renovators like me, having a place to store extra supplies will vary from time to time; but keeping inventory organized is crucial for productivity. It also provides a place to store wood that prevents warp.

If you have enough vertical storage space, you can also separate different types of wood based on their purpose (pricey hardwoods for furniture vs 2x4s for basic builds). I’ve been searching for lumber storage options online (especially DIY) and noticed that most of them could be divided into three groups — each of which had their pros and cons.

DIY option #1: wood + pipe lumber storage rack

The gist of this option is to install lengths of conduit pipe into a piece of lumber and then mount along studs.

Pros: this option looks pretty cool, super sturdy, keeps floor space clear, easy access to supplies, and conduit pipe isn’t super expensive.

Cons: it seems like a little more work than I really want to do.

The conduit has to fit snugly and I can imagine myself procrastinating on getting this implemented due to the number of steps needed, which means months and months of lumber still laying around until it’s finished. So that option’s out. Onto the next…

DIY option #2: furring strips + plywood supports

There are many variations, but the plywood plans are relatively the same: build supports and then install them between vertical lengths of wood along 2×4 studs.

Pros: cost effective, visually ok, probably easier to DIY than the pipe version, great way to use up some scraps of plywood sheets.

Cons: I still see myself taking time on this one to cut and assemble. Also, compared to the pipe version, thicker widths of wood might not be easy to place if they bump into these supports. Takes up a lot of space.

There’s nothing really wrong with this project, but my lack of a table saw means that this may take too long, I’ll blow it off for several more months, and the lumber yet again continues to lay in a pile on my floor in the meantime. I’ll earmark this for “maybe later”, but what about an install-and-go option?

Option #3: Buy a metal vertical lumber organizer


This pre-made steel storage rack is less than $100, so if the goal is to just get it done and move onto the next project, it’s really not a bad choice. But after looking at specs of the depth and weight limit of each level, I realized that there may even be a cheaper and easier option altogether than going with one of these steel racks.

Pros: probably one of the quickest, comes in a short and long version to suit a lot of wall space (or just a little), straightforward hardware requirements, durability, and convenience.

Cons: I wasn’t really planning to spend that much on a possible temporary storage solution when my needs/design may change in the next phase of my workshop makeover

MY DIY Lumber Rack: heavy duty shelf brackets!

DIY lumber rack shelf brackets

The store-bought wood rack has levels that each support 110 lbs and carry a depth of 12.25 inches. I figured that if I could find something similar in terms of steel shelf brackets, I may be able to make this project both cost effective and easy to install in less than an hour. So, I asked my dad to raid his garage, where he found six 12 x 14-inch shelf brackets. I brought a few outside for painting.

spray painting shelf brackets

Most of these were old and covered in dirt and crusty paint, but FREE, and therefore my favorite kind of material to work with. I looked up their weight capacity online and discovered that when mounted into wall studs, each shelf can hold 100lbs — only 10 lbs shy of the store-bought rack. (FYI: there are also heavy-duty shelf brackets that can support up to 300 lbs, but they cost quite a bit more, so the pre-made rack is actually cheaper and easier to install).

diy lumber storage

During the garage cleanup over this past weekend, I gave each bracket a few coats of primer and white spray paint, then installed them on one side of the garage (carefully making sure that each screw went into a stud). UPDATE: As some have suggested in comments, if you’re going to attempt these yourself, definitely check out the shear strength/weight capacity of the screws going into the studs as well. The brackets can hold up to a certain weight, and the screws need to be heavy duty as well! Then, I loaded ’em up:

DIY lumber rack

To my surprise, these two levels held every piece of full-length lumber, conduit pipe, and molding I had (I carefully distributed the heavier 2x4s between the racks, so I didn’t feel like I came anywhere close to that much weight). I still need to build a lumber cart for organizing my scrap wood pile and sheets of plywood, but this solution was perfect for getting some of the biggest culprits of my bruised legs out of the way for good!

DIY lumber rack with shelf brackets

For the record, I’m not sure that this is really my long-term solution, so I’ll probably upgrade to the conduit version above (option #1) after I am no longer storing stuff along that wall for the upstairs bathroom. But for now, it suits my needs perfectly, and was both FREE and QUICK to install. I can even fit a workbench under this rack easily so I have a spot for my miter saw, too. No procrastinating, no DIY hiccups, no fuss. It also crosses part of the workshop makeover off of my project list!

Have you been thinking of building a lumber rack? Which version are you planning to install?

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  1. Too funny. I used these shelf supports in my cold cellar/workshop, just because I had two of them on hand courtesy of past owners. I’m glad to hear that they’re rated to actually hold some weight. Thanks for doing the research for me! Your garage is looking really good. Your enthusiasm at having it organized is obvious. Good job!

  2. That’s a great improvement and so organized. One thing you may want to consider besides the brackets are the screws, what kind of weight limit do they have, can they hold that much weight without sheering off, etc.?

    1. Hmm, good point… I didn’t check! I’ll pick up some at the next trip to the hardware store (which is always less than a day or two away) and make sure I grab some heavy-duty screws that state a loadbearing capacity that matches the brackets (or more). I did make sure it was a course thread for proper fastening to a wood stud, but didn’t check beyond that. Once I do that I’ll probably update the post. Thank you!

  3. Great idea! I’m working on my garage this summer too and I think I’ll definitely be doing something similar!

  4. One comment on the two diy versions you listed is that they take up a bit more space than your brackets, since they stick out from the wall a bit more. That can be an issue in a smaller garage. The other comment is that I bent the tip on that type of bracket up to give me a small lip on the end. That helps hold rolling stock from falling off. Just a thought. Nice looking project and it really helps clean things up. Congratulations.

  5. No doubt that the wood and pipe look very cool. But the idea of working with the pipes gives the chills. Option number 4 is similar to what I have in my garage. Shelf brackets are easy to use and install in little time. Great idea and it turned out great. Very cool!

  6. Boy do I feel stupid right now! I’m searching for a solution to store all of my valuable wood (mostly recycled free to me stuff) and I found the same styles that you did and shared the same thought “that’s quite a bit of time and effort” and I need this mess cleaned up like yesterday. My other issue is that I needed a way to organize it all in order to clear a space to put a rack as well as to find the right boards to actually build it! I know I have some of these brackets around here somewhere, but never did I think to use them for this–duh! Perfect for quick, temporary (HA! I use that word loosely, very loosely) storage until I can build a more permanent solution. Whoever would have thought to use shelf brackets as a shelf for lumber? Obviously, not me, so thank you for sharing your infinitely insightful and creative wisdom which will save me a whole lot of time & effort once I find those brackets that are likely under one of these stacks of wood somewhere. ;)

    1. Glad you found it helpful! Sometimes when the answer becomes clear, you want to smack yourself for not thinking of it sooner. Been there!

  7. These are all great solutions – and I’ll add one more. I used adjustable shelving mounts and large brackets to store my lumber on. This way I can move them up and down and repurpose them as needed. Each bracket can handle about 150 pounds so combined with the mounts and the screws holding them into the wall studs, I get a serious amount of lumber handling. Additionally, I can add shelves if desired.
    I love your site by the way and I’ve been reading for a few years. Sometimes when I’m looking for something different I’ll come here and get inspired!

    1. Thanks for reading, Tim! Your rack idea sounds pretty solid. I can’t wait to make a better lumber rack once I get the vanity and toilet (for the primary bath redo) out of there to give myself some more space!

  8. As Alex mentioned in the previous comments, it’s very important that anyone attempting this DIY project buy the proper screws that can support the weight. Sarah, did you ever get a chance to get those heavy-duty screws? If so, what did you end up purchasing?

  9. I just made a rack to store my lumber vertically using similar shelf brackets , but mine have the curve on the end to hold a closet rod. After installing 3 brackets along a 6 foot wall, I laid a thick dowel rod where the closet pole would normally go. Then I just slide each piece of lumber in between the dowel and the wall vertically. No need to worry about bracket or screw weight load this way, and takes up the same amount of space. The brackets on each end keeps the wood from falling out the end.