Shelving - 2x4s - Why?

  • Economical Garage Shelving from 2x4 lumber

    Shelving - 2x4s - Why?

    Rhino Shelf structural shelves were designed to use 2x4 lumber as the shelving between the aluminum assemblies.  Why 2 x 4's?  Besides being a great choice, they are about the strongest material for the price you can get. Each bay (4' section) were designed to fit five (5) 2 x 4's placed one 2 x4 width apart.  Four (4) additional 2 x 4's can be used to fill in and create a solid deck effect. Other variations  for a solid deck effect are possible, such as, expanded metal can be put on top; 3/4" plywood can be glued and screwed to the 2  x 4's; or you may replace the 2 x 4,s with 1 x 4's and top them with 1/2" plywood (and maybe even leave out boards #2 & #4 (see picture).

    Wood decking is the ideal solution for the decking in any event. This allows you to easily (and cheaply) add screw-in hooks and hangers available at local big-box or hardware stores for about $1 each!  Remember a 2 x 4 is actually 1-1/2" thick, so it will handle a screw-in embedment of up to about 1/ 1/4".  

    Which 2x4? We recommend using Prime #2 boards, such as Lowes' Top Choice or Home Depot's Premium Kiln-Dried Whiteboard.  Buy boards 96" long (8'), not the standard 93" studs.  The 96" length reduces waste when you trim your boards to fit. Also, be selective of the 2 x 4's you purchase.  The extra time you take to select the straightest, knot-free, close-grained boards, will be worth your time.  

    Now that you are a shelf builder, let me tell you about a resource that the pro's use.  A critical point in shelf design, whether it's for a bookcase or a garage shelf, is the amount of static load a given shelf can take given the type of wood and the dimension and the resulting "sag". Instead of looking up formulas for bending moments and beam deflection and trying to find the modulus of elasticity of various woods, yada, yada,.... they use the famous SAGULATOR. No lie it's a real thing!  The Sagulator can be found at and is a good tool.  

    How to use the Sagulator:  For our shelves, if you have utilized 2 x 4's in your installation, choose inches" and use a depth of 17.5" (5 boards x 3.5") and a thickness of 1.5" (the actual dimensions of a 2 x 4 are 1.5" x 3.5").  Span should be 48" unless you have actual measurements. Keep changing your materials and the load figure, and click on the 'Compute Sag' button.

    Happy Rhino Shelving!