Sunday, March 16, 2014

Homemade Overhead Storage for Your Garage

When You Can't Fit the Car in the Garage Anymore

The neighborhood where we live now is decidedly suburban, without many sidewalks. Worse, in about every block you'll find that at least one house where a car is parked across the sidewalk, even though the house has a two or even three-car garage. Why? Well, people's stuff just plain takes over their garages, to the point that they can no longer fit a car in there.

If that's your problem, you might fork over hundreds of bucks to buy shelving systems and cabinets from some BigBox store. If you're handy, you might build your own shelves. But what do you do with the biggest stuff? Articles about garage organization tend to concentrate on storage along the walls, but often ignore the empty space near the ceiling. With just a few bucks' worth of materials you probably have lying around, you can build a ceiling rack for big stuff that doesn't fit on the wall shelves. At one house, I built one of these racks to hold full sheets of plywood; my current one is a little smaller.

You can modify this simple design to store those rarely-used items like skis, oversized tools and spare lumber. These instructions will make a rack with a usable space 42" wide and 21" high, but you can modify the dimensions to customize a rack to your own needs.

Supply list

• 2 each 8-foot 2-by-4
• 4 or 6 each 3-inch lag bolts with washers
• 1 ½-inch plywood scrap at least 24" x 24"
• 32 each #8 x 1½" screws
• carpenter's glue

Tool List

• drill and bits
• circular, jig or table saw
• screwdriver
• wrenches to fit lag bolts
• measuring tape
framing square
• stud finder (optional)


1 - Cut the ½-inch plywood into eight strips each 3" x 24".
2 - Cut each 2"x4"x8' in half to make four pieces, each 4' long
3 - Attach four plywood strips to the edges of a pair of 2x4s at the ends (see the photo). Use a framing square to align everything correctly. Fasten the parts with carpenter's glue and two #8 x 1½" wood screws at each connection. (Note: a #8 screw's shank hole is 11/64" and its pilot hole is 5/64"). 
4 - Repeat with the other 2x4s and plywood strips. This makes two hanger assemblies..
5 - Attach the hangers to the ceiling joists in the garage. If there's a finished ceiling, use a stud finder, magnet, or the old "tap until you find a solid spot" method to locate your joists. Do not mount the hangers parallel to the ceiling joists, mount then crosswise. You'll need three joists on 16- or 24-inch centers.
6 - Mark the joist locations to mount your hangers four feet apart. For larger items, you may want to spread them slightly more.
7 -Mount each hanger securely to the ceiling joists by screwing a lag bolt into each joist through each hanger. 

Your ceiling storage is ready to use.


• Be sure to locate the hanger where it won't interfere with your garage door.
• Be safe: Wear safety glasses whenever using power tools and get help when raising the hangers
• Be sure to lag both hangers to the ceiling joists securely.
• Don't overload your rack. About 100 pounds is a safe limit.


• Your ceiling joists are supposed to be at a constant 16-inch spacing, but chances are very good that they aren't.
• If you need to store small articles on your rack, you can always add a floor of inexpensive boards like dog-ear fence pickets
• You can turn your rack into bi-level storage with a pair of 1x4s inserted partway down both brackets

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