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I recently scrounged some steel shelving that I'd like to hang in my garage. This used to be in an office, its for paperwork but will work great for some things in my garage.

The mounting holes on these shelves are not going to be centered on my studs. What I think I need to do to hang these is to screw two boards to the studs and then mount the shelves to that.

How do I determine what size of board to use? Is it based on size/weight of the shelves?

The shelves are basic steel box shelves. They are roughly 4' long, 10" deep, and 12" tall. It's a steel box open to the front and there is a slight flange on the back.

The garage wall is finished. Just has drywall and paint.

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are these free standing or just metal shelves with no frame at all? – shirlock homes Feb 15 '11 at 21:31
Can you change the location of the mounting holes (drill new ones)? – Tester101 Feb 16 '11 at 12:50
Is the garage wall finished (covered in plaster), or are the studs exposed? – Tester101 Feb 16 '11 at 12:52
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Several different factors weigh in to what size of board you need.

  • Weight - Definitely the major factor.
  • Stud spacing - I'm assuming you've got standard 16" OC studs, and that you're attaching the support board to every one it spans.
  • Location of Mounting Points - The closer the mounts for the shelving are to centered between studs, the higher the bending load on the board.
  • Fastener Type - The thicker the fasteners used to fasten the board to the wall and the shelves to the board, the higher the stress concentration at those areas. Standard wood screws should be fine for fastening the board to the wall.
  • Use a Wide Board - The bending strength of a board goes up by a factor of width squared, and only linearly with thickness. So if you're flush mounting against a wall and don't have to worry about torsion, a 1x6 will be stronger than a 2x4.

Did you have a rough order of magnitude for the weight you'd like to hang? Just shooting from the hip, I'd think you'd be OK with a 1x4, or a 1x6 if you wanted to be safe.

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The shelves themselves are around 25 pounds (11 kilos?). I'd have to guess at 70lbs of weight on them tops. Intend to put things like motor oil, manuals, and other individually light items on them. I can see many small items adding up, but these aren't holding up bags of sand or anything. – Freiheit Feb 16 '11 at 17:30
nice details on the torsion and dimensions :) – Mark Schultheiss Feb 17 '11 at 23:53
@Mark: Can't help it, I'm an engineer. :) – Doresoom Feb 18 '11 at 14:58

From what you have described, I'd probably use a 1x4.

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