Safely store your wood in your garage using these 9 lumber storage ideas for workshop hobbyists. Choose horizontal or vertical storage, DIY, or a kit.
Do-it-yourselfers often purchase materials in bulk, so they’ll have what they need handy when a project comes up. This means they need a place to store them though, and that typically means stashing things in the garage. Organizing materials, especially wood, helps them last longer by ensuring that sunlight, rain, and other natural elements don’t reach them.
Lumber takes up quite a bit of space unless you properly organize and store it. But what do you use to organize two-by-fours, you ask? We’ve got your answer in this article with photos, plus a video that takes you through the steps of constructing essential woodworking storage.
Why bother with DIY lumber storage ideas? You need to avoid storing wood outdoors because water from rain and snow warps it and rotes it. You might drive by a construction site and observe wood stacked outdoors under the open sky, but typically, that vertically stored lumber comprises the wood for use as that day’s building materials. It won’t remain outside overnight.
Lumber Rack and Scrap Wood Storage Ideas
Overhead storage such as this metal storage rack system provides storage for up to 600 pounds each. Slide lumber in and out of the wood storage rack while standing on a stepladder. Readymade kits of this type typically cost about $130 per rack.
Here’s a DIY lumber rack. Build this wood storage vertical rack out of some of your scrap lumber. Simple metal rods separate the various sizes of lumber and small chains corral them into place in this vertical lumber organizer. Home improvement stores use both horizontal and vertical lumber storage racks to make wood accessible to shoppers, but you might not have that kind of space. This design of vertical storage offers a way to corral pine wooden planks in a small space. Handy for any garage woodworking shop, this design uses hearty metal dividers.
Although you might not have the space that a home improvement store does, you can still use the steel or metal vertical dividers they do to organize your wood. This method lets you easily organize wood nearly as tall as your ceilings. If your garage features eight-foot ceilings with open rafters, you could store eight-foot-long lumber. With enclosed rafters though, you’re limited to horizontal storage or shorter wood pieces using these lumber racks.
For woodworkers who don’t have much wood to store or DIYers who only do the occasional job around the house, using these multipurpose boxes lets you close the door on the wood to offer an aesthetically enjoyable space. Most lumber rack ideas leave the wood exposed, but with this one, the wood stays protected, and you can easily find a piece the length you need by placing six-foot pieces in one box, eight-foot lengths in another, etc. Add a shelf to one box for storing scrap wood.
Maybe floor space remains at a premium where you live, and your garage requires you to store things above rather than on the floor. Make cantilever garage shelves mounted to the wall. Provide about two feet between each set of shelf brackets and you have plenty of storage space for your wood plus easy access. Pick up a simple metal system like the one pictured at any home improvement store for storing your long boards.
Use some of the wood you have to build these wide shelves with plenty of storage space between them. This free standing lumber rack DIY design requires only plywood and two-by-fours. Choosing this DIY project means you’ll reduce the amount you need to immediately store, and you can create the storage units without needing to spend money on a system.
This design shows another option for metal storage bays. Purchase a ready-made system like the one pictured from a local hardware store. This type of shelving system stacks the lumber on shelves horizontally, but you can stack the shelves, which opens up space. Slide sheet goods onto the uppermost shelf. Keeping storage off of the floor reduces the safety hazard of storing wood.
Try these white shelving units if you need to store small woodworking pieces or scrap wood. They offer an easy to buy or build design, and use small cubby holes. Use this type of design for wood scraps, nails, washers, and screws. Choose this shelving and cubby design to store smaller pieces of wood. Stack two-by-fours on top of the scrap wood unit. Using the system pictured requires space along one wall only and takes up little room but organizes all wood pieces in a manner that makes them easy to access – the whole point of a wood storage rack.
Building Your Own Wood Storage Area
As the carpenter at WoodReveals Workshop explains in this video, building a storage area in your garage for wood requires pre-planning. You’ll need to follow a few wood storage guidelines regardless of the DIY lumber rack system you choose.
Horizontal or Vertical Lumber Storage Ideas and Tips
1. Avoid placing wood directly on the garage floor. If you build your own lumber storage rack, nail together two small pieces of wood about four feet in length at either end of the bottom of the woodpile. This offers four feet of width for the storage area and ensures enough air flows beneath the wood planks.
2. When you purchase wood, choose kiln-dried wood. This type of wood lasts longer whether piled, stored on wall space shelves, or in vertical lumber storage racks.
3. When using vertical storage methods, install a top and bottom support for the planks. This helps them avoid bowing, which can make them as unusable as a piece of warped wood.
4. Choose an area for your storage that doesn’t receive full sunlight. If part of your board receives sunlight, for example, when you open the garage door, that area of the planks weakens. Over time, the lumber can break when you try to use it.
5. Pick a system that scales. You might only have enough wood for building a dog house right now, but you might get tapped to build a tree house with a neighbor for their child or participate in building a ramp for a neighbor in a wheelchair. You’ll need more storage space eventually because invariably, once a DIYer starts building things regularly, they can’t stop. Most DIYers want to tackle larger projects and that requires larger lumber storage options.
6. Buy open-top bins like those used in commercial warehouses for storing small wood pieces, whether making a scrap wood pile or stashing small pre-cuts for building a birdhouse or some other patch job.
7. Choose pre-treated wood. Pre-treated wood uses a sealant that helps it maintain its heartiness and shape. You still need to protect it from bowing if you store it in a vertical lumber storage rack though.
8. Always completely dry your wood before storing it. This increases in importance if you decide to store the wood vertically, since wet wood bows more easily than dry wood.
9. Store all wood piles on flat foundations. Regardless of the system used, the bottom of each shelf must provide a sturdy, flat foundation for the planks or wood pieces.
10. Organize by board length and thickness. Create uniform stacks for the wood boards with their stickers all facing in the same direction.
11. When organizing full-sized lumber, align the stickers vertically. Lay each piece flat.
12. Organize the space to provide proper ventilation for the wood. If you build your own system, choose a spacing that allows for at least six inches of ventilation space beneath the wood and above it. This ensures the wood can breathe and helps it avoid warping.
13. Cover each wood pile. Yes, even though you’re storing it inside, you need to cover each wood pile with a tarp or other material that blocks vapor. This helps the wood stay dry, especially when the weather turns humid.
14. Weight each woodpile down. You can prevent the wood from cupping by placing weights on each wood pile. You can use a brick or cement block for this purpose.
Why Would You Organize Your Wood in the Garage?
Sure, you could simply toss it all in an awkward corner of your yard and call it good, but it wouldn’t be good. Your scrap wood pile would go bad from the elements which would warp it and rot it. Let’s look at five reasons to organize your project and scrap wood inside your garage.
1. You save money by organizing the wood in a lumber storage rack.
Most wall studs or project wood you can obtain for building furniture or installing flooring comes kiln-dried. Although this wood inherently lasts longer, you still need to store it inside in a climate-controlled area. That means you need to place a heater in the garage during winter and an air conditioner in there during summer.
You’ll also need to insulate your garage. This only costs a few hundred dollars total and improves the conditions for your vehicles, too. Once climate-controlled, you can rest assured that the wood stored in your garage won’t warp from the elements. This process saves you money by protecting your wood investment and your vehicles.
2. You improve home safety.
No, we don’t mean that thieves might steal your wood. Using the right storage methods means you avoid having large wood piles outside your home, which attracts rodents like mice. It also means you avoid the trip and fall hazard of large wood piles on the floor. When you pile wood on the floor, you endanger yourself, your pets, and your children. Without proper storage, you might construct a project using warped or weakened wood that could fail while in use.
3. You divide the wood by size, making it simpler to choose the pieces you need at a glance.
An appropriate storage system makes it simple to find what you need when you need it. Well-made systems organize the wood by size or use and separate two-by-fours from scrap wood. Using vertical storage instead of a horizontal lumber rack means that you avoid the planks on the bottom of the stack weakening from the strain of having all that wood piled on them. Vertical storage helps preserve the strength of all of your wood.
4. Choosing a wall-mounted system opens up your flooring space.
Installing a wall-mounted system ensures you can safely store your wood and your garage’s square footage. Placing the wood on wall-mounted storage racks offers a more convenient way with no hassle compared to using a floor space storage system. This wall space system lets you slide planks in and out of the shelf’s narrow end. You can construct it with little wall space since you only need one wall for this design. Look for wide-width heavy-duty floating wall shelves at your local home improvement store and pair them with brackets that sit under the shelf. Anything with an arm that extends about the shelf will block your ability to slide wood on and off of the shelf.
Where Can You Find the Materials to Create These Storage Systems?
Consider this at the top of your scrap lumber storage ideas. Most DIYers probably already own everything to build one of the best lumber racks featured herein. You’d need two-by-fours and plywood for most of the projects with standard nails or long screws and washers. If you don’t already own the materials, your local hardware store probably offers them.
In suburban and urban areas, most home improvement stores, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s carry the materials needed. You can add Ace Hardware to the list if you only need tools or brackets. That’s because Ace Hardware stopped carrying wood years ago. They cater to a more urban crowd now that might do a simple fix-it job at home, but not a building job.
If you don’t yet have the DIY skills to build a full system, consider purchasing a ready-made lumber rack kit. These systems come in parts with all washers, screws, etc. included. You follow step-by-step written instructions to connect part “A” to part “B” and create your fancy system to store wood from the kit’s parts.
Every DIYer starts somewhere. If you want to start building projects at home and will purchase new wood to store, consider reading a few books on do-it-yourself projects first. Check Amazon or Barnes and Noble online for these. You can trust any book authored by home renovation guru Bob Vila. Also, check out his YouTube for helpful videos and project ideas.
If you’ve only got your garage, don’t lament. Forget the lumber storage shed ideas and outdoor lumber storage ideas because you can install the storage you need in your garage and keep your precious project wood safe.