Building a Rubbermaid Friendly Shelving Unit for the Basement

I built a hefty 8’x2′ shelving unit for my basement for about $100. This is the corner that the shelf was built to fit into, with a 2×4 for scale. I would have used a banana, but we’re fresh out.


This simple mitre sled jig made cutting the pieces easy.

The block on the table saw fence sets the length of the piece that I’m cutting, but stays out of the way while cutting to avoid kickback.

The block on the mitre sled acts as a feather board, keeping the stock pressed firmly down while cutting. This really helps with longer pieces.


Each shelf consists of 1/2″ plywood over a simple 2×4 frame. The front and back are 96″ long, the end caps are 24″ long, and the middle supports are 21″ long.

In this shot, you can see that my basement floor is about 3″ out of level over the 8′ length of the piece. I propped it up with shims, then screwed on some temporary legs once it was level. This gave me a level surface to base the rest of the build on.


Next, I attached the five main legs. Each leg is a different height to account for the slope of the floor. The end result is that all of the legs are the same height relative to the shelves


With the legs attached, I built the second shelf in the same way as the first, and prepared to attach it to the frame.

To help with positioning, I clamped scrap blocks at the appropriate height on each leg. This gave me something to set the shelf on before I screwed it in place.

Note that from this point forward, all height measurements were taken from the bottom shelf, rather than from the floor.


With the guide blocks in place, the second shelf was easy to install.


The third shelf was installed in much the same way as the second.


I built the fourth shelf in place, because I was working alone and didn’t feel like throwing out my back while lifting it into the air. I used temporary blocks to position the middle supports at the correct height.


The top two shelves are half the height of the bottom two, since big stuff tends to be heavy, so it makes sense to keep it near the bottom.

The bottom shelves can accommodate a large Rubbermaid or two small Rubbermaids stacked on top of one another. The top shelves can accommodate a small Rubbermaid.

I had bought some hardware to lag the unit to the wall, but it’s heavy enough that I have to put my full body weight into moving it, so I don’t think it’s going anywhere.


Building a 2×4 Workbench for my Shop

This summer, we moved out of our apartment and into our first house. Although the house is in good shape, there is some work that needs to be done, so one of the first jobs was to set up a workshop space. It’s nice to have somewhere to store my tools instead of being confined to the corner of a closet.


If you’ve never built anything before, don’t worry. This bench is easy to make, and only costs about $50 in materials. It’s made of 2x4s, and you just need four of each length, plus a half sheet of good one side plywood, cut into two pieces about 2′ by 4′.

Start by cutting the frame pieces out of the 2x4s. My legs are 36″, my front and back stringers are 46″, and my side stringers are 23″.

Pieces of the 2x4 frame

I assembled the front and back first. Each consists of two legs (the vertical pieces) and two long stringers (the horizontal pieces).

Front and back frames

I attached all of the pieces of the bench with 2 1/2″ screws. Because I was screwing so close to the edges of the wood, I was sure to pre-drill the holes. It’s important to make sure that the edges of each corner that you drill are flush.

Make sure that the pieces are flush before drilling

I marked out where I was going to drive in my screws. An inch from each edge is good.

Marking out where to drill

To start with, only drive one screw per corner. This will allow you to push everything into square before driving the rest of the screws and locking the joints into place.

One screw per corner to start with

If the piece is square, then the distance from each top corner to the opposite bottom corner will be the same. If it’s out, just push the stringers in opposite directions until everything lines up.

Once the piece is square, drive the other three screws into each corner. This will lock all of the angles in place.

Making sure everything is square

Once the front and back are built, it’s time to attach the side stringers. I stood the front on end and clamped the side stringer to it so that I had both hands free to drive the screw in.

Clamps help to attach things while you affix them

Same as before, only drive one screw per corner to start. Because the screws for the front stringers were one inch in from each side, I put the screws for the side stringers 3/4″ in from each side.


Once the side stringers are attached to the front and back of the bench, it’s time to bring the two pieces together. Now it’s starting to look like a bench. An upside down bench, but a bench nevertheless.

Bringing all four sides together

Again, square everything up, and then drive the rest of the screws in to lock the angles.

Checking for square... again

After flipping the bench over, I put the top on. I used a 2’x4′ sheet of 1/2″ GIS plywood for the top of my bench. The size of the frame gives me an inch of overhang at the front and on both sides.

Putting the top on

The top is affixed to the bench with 1 1/4″ screws. I chose to countersink the screws around the bench top so that they’re flush with the work surface.

Attaching the top

My bench has a shelf below the top. It’s made of the same 3/4″ good one side plywood as the top, but I had to notch out space for the legs.

the bottom shelf

All set up and loaded with tools! I attached a peg board to the wall behind the bench for some extra storage space.

All finished