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NYCbianchi 07-04-2012 10:11 PM

How do I build shelves againt frame studs?
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This is probably a really stupid question -- sorry I'm pretty new to all this. I want to build shelves on the inside of my storage shed, but the interior walls are unfinished -- you see the 2x4 frame studs jutting out. Obviously I can just span across the studs, but then there will be a 4" gap in the back of each shelf.

It seems to me I need to make a 2x4" notch in each of the shelves to accommodate the studs. I have no idea how to do that with basic hand tools, however. I could split the shelves into a series of spans, each with a notch in the corner, connecting at each stud, but that seems to create a lot of unnecessary seams in the shelf.

How do real carpenters handle this?

(attached is a photo in case it's not clear what I'm talking about.)

Total Tool 07-04-2012 10:20 PM

I would either:

1: leave the back part between the studs open
2: cut simple/strait shelves and fill in the back part between the studs with horizontal 2X4s
3: use a handsaw, drill, chisel and cut the shelves.

I'm not sure what you can do or what your shed will contain, but I would probably go with # 1 or 2.

Bonzai 07-04-2012 10:27 PM

You could always just finish the interior walls with 1/2" plywood.

Best tool for notching a shelf as you describe would be a jig saw. You could use a regular hand saw for the 2 side cuts and a coping saw for the 3rd cut if you prefer to go that route. Personally I'd finish the inside so have more places for hanging tools, etc.

DexterII 07-05-2012 06:45 AM

Other option, if you did not want to toe nail 2x4's on edge between the studs, as Total Tool suggested, or sheet the entire wall, as Bonzai suggested, is to just nail strips of plywood, masonite, or whatever, to the studs, above each shelf. Depending on what you are going to store there, a 4 or 6" strip may do it for you. The simplest way though, frankly, without having a lot of tools to work with, may be to just sheet it, again, a Bonzai suggested. Measure you height, allowing 1/8" or so, so that you know they'll fit, and your local lumber yard can help you decide on the best, most cost efficient plywood, OSB, or whatever you decide, and will cut it to length for you, so all you need to do is bring it home, and nail it in place. Make sure that your studs are 16" on center, so the sheets fit, and you will probably have to have them rip one or both end sheets. Just don't forget to finish your wiring, and have it inspected, before you cover it up.

NYCbianchi 07-05-2012 01:31 PM

The issue with sheeting off the entire frame is that I'll lose two inches all around the shelf (two in the back and two on each side) which is a decent percentage of the whole storage area.

I think sticking 2x4s into the gap makes the most sense. Hopefully I can line them up well enough with the shelf to prevent a ridge which makes it hard to slide things back. You guys think toe nailing them in is the way to go? (vs little "L" brackets or glue or something else?)

mae-ling 07-05-2012 03:48 PM

Putting blocks in each stud bay and having them all line up perfectly will be very difficult.
If you want that extra 3.5" better to notch the plywood shelf around each stud.

Easy to do with a jig saw or a circular saw and hand saw.

drtbk4ever 07-05-2012 04:36 PM


Originally Posted by mae-ling (Post 958651)
Putting blocks in each stud bay and having them all line up perfectly will be very difficult.
If you want that extra 3.5" better to notch the plywood shelf around each stud.

Easy to do with a jig saw or a circular saw and hand saw.

This strategy gets my vote.

NYCbianchi 07-05-2012 04:50 PM

So how do I notch it? I saw two parallel lines 2" apart, but how do I cut the line in the back?

mae-ling 07-05-2012 06:19 PM

Use a jig saw or coping saw.
Do you have either of these?

ratherbefishing 07-05-2012 06:35 PM

A jigsaw should make cutting the notches easy. No need to drill holes at the corner either, just curve over from the other side. And don't foget that the notches will be 1.5" wide, not 2".

DexterII 07-05-2012 07:01 PM

Not to appear nosey, and there is no wrong answer, but what power tools do your have or have access to? How do you plan to build the shelves, i.e. cut your own brackets and shelf material, or buy L brackets and precut shelf material? And, finally, is this storage for yard and garden tools, etc., and the reason for filling the gap is simply to keep things from falling behind the shelf, or do you have something like 5,000 gold bars, in which case the fillers would actually be supporting a significant amout of weight?

NYCbianchi 07-05-2012 10:11 PM

Not at all nosey, DexterII. I don't have any power tools except for a drill and sander. I'm itching for an excuse to buy a power saw but all things being equal I think a circ saw is at the top of the list. (I actually posted about this once.)
I'm not committed to any plan but I thought metal brackets would be an easy way to install the shelves, and I have some extra anyway.
I'd like to fill the stud bays (awesome new vocab word for me by the way) at least on the bottom shelf because I plan to use it as a work surface and I want to maximize the surface area and minimize the chance for things to drop behind it. I suppose I can live without filling the stud bays on the upper shelves, though I hadn't thought about it. I dont have specific plans for what to store up there but the list of likely items includes:
- bicycling gear, helmets, spare parts
- bird houses and feed
- gym-bag sized bags of misc gear such as fly fishing waders
No gold bars but a box full of bike parts could be heavy and I'd rather build it to support a lot rather than have to worry.

DexterII 07-06-2012 05:40 AM

Okay; just wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing anything. As several mentioned, a jig saw is your best bet, so while you are picking out your circular saw, take a look at them. You probably don't have need for a top end one, so, depending on your budget, you may be surprised at what you can pick one up for. It's not something that you would ever use on a daily basis, but very definitely a useful tool. If not that, walk over to vicinity of the hand saws, and look at a coping saw, as Mae-ling mentioned, or a keyhole saw; you will have some of the side cuts to finish by hand, due to the curve of the circular saw blade, and either of these will serve that purpose, as well as cutting the back of your notches. The keyhole saw will require larger holes at the corners, but you might get more future use out of it. It really comes down to how much you are able and willing to spend at this time, and how you view the value of each. As for supporting the notch, it sounds like you will be fine just letting them hang there, but if you want to beef it up, I would just pick up a piece of 1x4, not 2x4, cut enough pieces something like 4" long, and fasten them to the sides of the studs with 4 or 6 penny nails; they're not going to be under significant load necessarily, but would otherwise most likely sag some over time.

wkearney99 07-06-2012 08:15 AM

Heh, there's always one more tool to buy. I second the jigsaw recommendation. For most simple jobs they're pretty useful. Just stick with a handsaw for cutting 2x4's unless you're cutting a lot of them (then step up to a circular saw). One suggestion, do not go cheap on the jigsaw. Get a decent one.

DexterII 07-06-2012 09:11 AM

I meant to suggest too, since you mentioned a bench, which, for what you will be using it for, I assume you plan to construct a 2x4 frame, lay something like 3/4" plywood on top, lag it to the wall, and support the front with legs, you should either plan it so that the legs set directly over joists, or incorporate a 2x4, laid flat, under the legs, so that the weight is transferred to the joists, and not mid span of your 5/4 flooring.

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