Unsure if this would be safe and strong enough? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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Unsure if this would be safe and strong enough?

I am building some simple shelves for garage storage. I got the idea from Ana White I donít know if others have designed this as well but that is where I found the design. The problem is I am using free wood and the longest 2◊4ís I have are 6 foot and Iím kind of cheap so I donít want to buy longer boards if I donít need to. My shelves will span 101 inches wide. I have a Kreg type jig and am wondering if making pocket holes in the ends of the 2◊4 to connect them the long way would be safe to hold the weight Iím going to put on this shelf? I'm reading conflicting info online. My studs are 16Ē except on the ends they go out to 18Ē. Iím not really sure if this type of joint/idea is strong enough and I am going to be putting a lot of stuff on these shelves and I don't want them to come crashing down and take half of my (rented) wall with it! I donít have any other type of joiner tools or joining skills. My little drawing shows the ends of the 2◊4ís and the red lines would be where I want to insert the pocket holes and screws.
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post #2 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 10:26 AM
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I wouldn't recommend pocket screws in a butt joint. Why not set your center support(s) at the joint and screw both 2x4s into your post? That would be plenty strong.

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post #3 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
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That makes a lot of sense, thank you! I will do this instead. :)

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post #4 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 11:11 AM
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actually it's a bit better to put the two end supports at euqi-points to minimize the sag in the span(s)

i.e. 102" width - one centered, left/ right uprights at approx 24-25 from the ends.
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post #5 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 11:26 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TomCT2 View Post
actually it's a bit better to put the two end supports at euqi-points to minimize the sag in the span(s)

i.e. 102" width - one centered, left/ right uprights at approx 24-25 from the ends.
Do you mean the vertical supports should be 24" from the end or my cross supports (joists idk what they're called)? I'm sorry, I'm just a little confused.

The purple lines are where I think you're telling me to put my vertical supports but I think that doesn't make sense. The red lines are where I think you're saying to put cross supports in addition to the center?
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post #6 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 11:27 AM
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You can keep your middle "leg" in the center and still support the joint. Put a 2x4 under the joint and have it fastened to the front and rear rails.

George
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post #7 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Oh never mind, I think what you're saying is to join the horizontal boards at 24" ish from the ends instead of just 50" in each board joining those two at the middle? So for a 101" span instead of joining two boards of 50.5", have one board at 76" and the other at 24' and join those two. Sorry I'm a little slow on the uptake, haha!!

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post #8 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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You can keep your middle "leg" in the center and still support the joint. Put a 2x4 under the joint and have it fastened to the front and rear rails.

George
Ok thank you! I think I'm understanding now. I like to overbuild because I'm paranoid so this is helpful. :)

I'm so glad I don't have to go out and buy 10' boards!

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post #9 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 12:49 PM
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I built these. They're plenty strong, and support my weight when I climb in and out of the crawl space above.
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post #10 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 01:00 PM
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I would do this....

Duplicate the front legs on the back. That way all your support on the back edge won't be in the drywall. It will take 3 more 6 ft 2 X 4s. If you don't want a 1 1/2" gap at the back because of the additional legs, notch your plywood for the legs on the back edge... you'll need a jig saw. Additionally, where the shelf edges butt to each other, run twin 2 X 4s for additional support. Otherwise they are only held by 3/4", both bearing on a single cross piece.

Another way is to make 2 stand alone frames each having their own legs at the ends of the shelves and screw them together. This is more ideal for a "rented" space since there is a minimum of attachment screws to the studs or drywall on the rear..... and when you move they are small enough to take with you! You can also leave a gap between them and store taller objects in between OR make a short set of shelves that span in between them OR fit a cabinet in between them....

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #11 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 01:23 PM
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I think the shelving unit would be fine unless you are going to load it down with something especially heavy. Then the shelves would sag in the front between the vertical posts. The wall would hold the weight at the back.
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post #12 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 01:26 PM
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from an engineering perspective, using uprights at 1/3 or 1/4 reduces the sag "in the middle"

I've done billions of 8 ft long x 16" wide shelves using 2x4 @ the 1/3 points. zero failures, and believe me, my DW can pack a mean shelf....

using only 6' lengths, joining them at the center post is a good approach.
question - 102".... a 4x8 sheet gives you 3 pcs 16 x 96 - what's the plan for add the additional 6"

the other thing that will greatly increase the horizontal rail strength is to glue the plywood to the horizontal pcs. the glue bond has very little flex so it's "stiffer" than nails/screws which want to bend a bit under load.
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post #13 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 01:30 PM
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Install a vertical 2 X 4 under each butt joint. The first would rest on the floor and support the bottom butt joint. The next would rest on the first shelf and support the middle shelf butt joint. The next would rest on the middle shelf and support the top shelf butt joint. Screw these 2 X 4's to the center vertical 2 X 4. This would support al the butt joints and carry the load to the floor. Is the back wall ledger screwed into studs? What are you using for shelf material? Are there joists running from the back wall ledger to the front horizontal 2 X 4's?
Also, there is an on-line calculator referred to as the Sagulator which will help determine if your shelf will be strong enough.
I took a look at the Ana White shelves made from all 2 X 4's. According to that and the Sagulator her 6 foot shelf will hold 200 pounds. Will this work for you? If not rethink the screw sizes you will be using.

Last edited by JIMMIEM; 07-17-2016 at 01:50 PM. Reason: add info
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post #14 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 06:32 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Duplicate the front legs on the back. That way all your support on the back edge won't be in the drywall. It will take 3 more 6 ft 2 X 4s. If you don't want a 1 1/2" gap at the back because of the additional legs, notch your plywood for the legs on the back edge... you'll need a jig saw. Additionally, where the shelf edges butt to each other, run twin 2 X 4s for additional support. Otherwise they are only held by 3/4", both bearing on a single cross piece.

Another way is to make 2 stand alone frames each having their own legs at the ends of the shelves and screw them together. This is more ideal for a "rented" space since there is a minimum of attachment screws to the studs or drywall on the rear..... and when you move they are small enough to take with you! You can also leave a gap between them and store taller objects in between OR make a short set of shelves that span in between them OR fit a cabinet in between them....
I initially thought about this but I didn't want that gap. I do have a jigsaw that I could have made the notches with. But after the first few replies here I went out and got started already and got most of the rails installed into the studs.

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post #15 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 06:33 PM Thread Starter
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I built these. They're plenty strong, and support my weight when I climb in and out of the crawl space above.
These look very nice and sturdy!! :)

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post #16 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TomCT2 View Post
from an engineering perspective, using uprights at 1/3 or 1/4 reduces the sag "in the middle"

I've done billions of 8 ft long x 16" wide shelves using 2x4 @ the 1/3 points. zero failures, and believe me, my DW can pack a mean shelf....

using only 6' lengths, joining them at the center post is a good approach.
question - 102".... a 4x8 sheet gives you 3 pcs 16 x 96 - what's the plan for add the additional 6"

the other thing that will greatly increase the horizontal rail strength is to glue the plywood to the horizontal pcs. the glue bond has very little flex so it's "stiffer" than nails/screws which want to bend a bit under load.
Well the free wood I got was a three tiered shelf that someone had built quite poorly so I took it apart. The plywood pieces are 2'x6' (hence the 6' long supports) so I was going to just cut more pieces of plywood that I have 2'x29" to accommodate the rest of the width. I'm putting the shelf along the back wall of our garage and that's the width, that's why its such a weird dimension.

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post #17 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JIMMIEM View Post
Install a vertical 2 X 4 under each butt joint. The first would rest on the floor and support the bottom butt joint. The next would rest on the first shelf and support the middle shelf butt joint. The next would rest on the middle shelf and support the top shelf butt joint. Screw these 2 X 4's to the center vertical 2 X 4. This would support al the butt joints and carry the load to the floor. Is the back wall ledger screwed into studs? What are you using for shelf material? Are there joists running from the back wall ledger to the front horizontal 2 X 4's?
Also, there is an on-line calculator referred to as the Sagulator which will help determine if your shelf will be strong enough.
I took a look at the Ana White shelves made from all 2 X 4's. According to that and the Sagulator her 6 foot shelf will hold 200 pounds. Will this work for you? If not rethink the screw sizes you will be using.
The back rails are screwed into the studs using 3 1/2" screws. I'm using 5/8" plywood for the shelves. I was planning to put joists from the back wall into the front of the shelves. I think I don't want too many vertical pieces in the front because that will make it harder to put junk on the shelves. So I might do what you suggested and put vertical supports under each joint on the back and then I'm just gonna go and buy three boards for the front. I don't know why I'm being so difficult!

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post #18 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by cheramello View Post
The back rails are screwed into the studs using 3 1/2" screws. I'm using 5/8" plywood for the shelves. I was planning to put joists from the back wall into the front of the shelves. I think I don't want too many vertical pieces in the front because that will make it harder to put junk on the shelves. So I might do what you suggested and put vertical supports under each joint on the back and then I'm just gonna go and buy three boards for the front. I don't know why I'm being so difficult!
I'm not sure where you pocket screw butt joints are. I thought there was just one in the center. If there are more then another option is to take short lengths of 2 X 4's and overlap the pocket screw butt joints. These will be horizontal 'sister' supports and won't interfere with the open space between the vertical supports. When you attach them put screws in from both sides.
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post #19 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by JIMMIEM View Post
I'm not sure where you pocket screw butt joints are. I thought there was just one in the center. If there are more then another option is to take short lengths of 2 X 4's and overlap the pocket screw butt joints. These will be horizontal 'sister' supports and won't interfere with the open space between the vertical supports. When you attach them put screws in from both sides.
This is an entirely different idea than what I thought you were doing. I thought the 2x4's were to be both the supports and shelves. In the back where they are screwed into the studs no further support should be needed.

In the front a support should be provided under the joint.

I would use 3/4" plywood for the shelves. If you use 5/8" then I would add "joists" for support.

George
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post #20 of 21 Old 07-17-2016, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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This is an entirely different idea than what I thought you were doing. I thought the 2x4's were to be both the supports and shelves. In the back where they are screwed into the studs no further support should be needed.

In the front a support should be provided under the joint.

I would use 3/4" plywood for the shelves. If you use 5/8" then I would add "joists" for support.

George
I did not make any pocket holes thanks to everyone's advice here! I just got back from that big box store with three 2x4x103" so no need for joint support up front anymore. I did make the rails on the back that are attached to the wall with my 6 footers and then cut 27" to make up for the remaining width. They (the 27" boards) are secured into two studs and feel pretty secure. I will definitely add joists for support! :smile3:

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