DEAR TIM: I need more storage space. As I tripped over some garden tools while taking out the garbage, I noticed how much wasted space is available in my two car garage. Can you offer any suggestions as to utilizing the wall space and floor space in front of my car? I'm looking for simple solutions that I can handle in several days. Is it possible? T. N.
DEAR T. N.: It sounds like you walked through my garage last night. My wife constantly reminds me about my construction leftovers, her garden tools, the kid's bikes, etc. that are scattered about our garage. I believe I can solve your problem and mine at the same time. Here is what we can do.
My guess is that you have certain boxes or objects that are only needed once or twice a year. These objects are going to be placed on shelves that are somewhat out of reach. Things that are used on a weekly or monthly basis will be conveniently located. We will accomplish this by building a series of shelves at different heights and locations within the garage.
The storage space for the seldom used items will be created on the side walls of the garage. Determine the height of the largest object that needs to be stored. Our shelf height will be adjusted to accommodate the largest item. A 16 inch deep shelf usually will be adequate for all but the largest items. This allows us to extract 24 lineal feet of storage for each piece of 5/8 inch plywood we will buy.
The side wall shelves will be secured by using a 2x2 on the sidewall as a cleat. Pieces of 1/4 inch threaded rod, nuts, and washers suspended from the ceiling will hold the front edge level and secure. The threaded rod will pass through a 2x3 that we attach under the front edge of the shelf. The 2x3, when placed on edge, stiffens the shelf so it will not sag. We will put a piece of threaded rod every 6 feet. 2x4 blocks that pass over the ceiling rafters will be drilled to accept the other end of the threaded rod. The nuts on the ends of the rods will allow us to easily level the shelves.
The back wall of the garage is going to be transformed into a solid wall of shelves, bins, and cabinets. Low cost basic cabinets can often be purchased to suit this purpose. If we are patient and/or lucky, we may be able to purchase damaged units at a deeply discounted price. Let's use a piece of 3/4 inch plywood as the top. This thick wood will take much abuse and serve as an excellent work bench.
A series of shelves similar to the sidewall shelves can be built alongside the cabinet layout. We will start our first shelf two feet off the floor. Each successive shelf will be 16 inches above the one below. Instead of using threaded rod to secure the front edge, we can use vertical 2x4's at each corner and at 4 foot intervals. The 2x4's will be simply screwed into the horizontal 2x3's.
I plan to surround the second shelf from the floor with a 1x6 piece of wood. This barrier will restrain all of my kid's baseballs, basketballs, and any other ball or outdoor game piece that would readily fall roll from a conventional shelf. Dividers that run from the front to back of this shelf will help to segregate different sports equipment.
Don't forget to plan for a void space on the back wall to store your lawn mower or wheelbarrow. These items as well as garbage cans can really cause problems as you open and close car doors. I'm quite sure I will put these large items on the back wall in between the two cars. Let me know if you come up with some innovative solutions for your garage!