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Fairly new to handyman work here so I'd love to have some of your expert help! I've looked all around for ways to suspend garage storage from a ceiling but none of them are dealing with a slanted area as shown in the photos below. There are several options for where I can suspend the storage as well (see 1, 2, and 3 in the photos below). One seems to be for the roofing but not sure what the other one is designed for and another one spans perpendicular across them. My thoughts were:

  1. to use either chain or steel wire to suspend the open side with eye hook
  2. I'm unsure as to whether or not to use an eye/lag screw vertical into the support or a eye bolt through the support horizontally; I've seen both used/recommended
  3. I'm not sure where to put the screw/bolts. Number 1 in the photo spans the whole planned storage area horizontally parallel with the storage. 2 and 3 both span perpendicular to the storage but I don't know if they are strong enough to support storage weights.
  4. use a turnbuckle to get everything at the right height

Any thoughts on how to do this setup? I'm not looking to put anything terribly heavy up there other than your typical stuff in storage boxes but I want it to be safe and also not cause any structural issues, especially with the roof (don't want it sagging or anything). Thanks so much for all of your help!

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  • I'm confused about your rafter labelling and in my answer I may have got it wrong. Please clarify and I'll correct the answer. You have a "2" and a "3" each labelled on a particular part, but each with an arrow pointing to the opposite part. I went with the labels not the arrows. Probably wrong. The 2x6 (ish) directly supporting the roof boards is ____ ? And the floating 2x4 providing bracing is ____ ?
    – jay613
    Aug 4 at 19:14
  • Hi Jay! I was trying to be as descriptive as possible but could see now how it didn't work out that way! Each number is associated with the arrow pointing to what it is describing. So to fill in the blanks: The 2x6 (ish) directly supporting the roof boards is 2 and the floating 2x4 providing bracing is 3. Sorry for the confusion! Number 1 is the board running perpendicular to both 2 and 3.
    – The Viking
    Aug 4 at 20:11
  • Corrected my answer to refer to the correct labels with arrows.
    – jay613
    Aug 5 at 0:44
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Use your “2” for hanging shelves. The 2x6s are designed and installed to support weight (the roof), and are also strengthened by being attached to the roof boards and to each other by the #1 bracing. The #3 2x4 ties are just attached at the ends by nails, not resting on anything at least at one end, and not meant to support weight. You can drill horizontally through the center or vertically into the bottom, depending on what hardware or system you end up using.

You can buy metal garage shelf kits that use L-shaped steel bars full of holes that you could just screw to the rafters (to their sides). If you don’t already have the materials and want to do something quick, cheap and easy, I’d recommend that. Buy an all-metal kit and hang it from the #2 rafters.

If you want it to have more of a home-made look, you can use chains per the other answer or 2x4s, similarly hung from the rafters, to support the shelving.

To make the shelves level you have to design it in a way that allows you to make adjustments in place as you go. For example if you’re hanging two ends of a shelf from a chain at each end, screw the chains to the rafters, attach one to the middle of the support at one end of the shelf, then use a level to level the shelf and mark where the other end should be attached to the chain. Use similar techniques depending on what materials you’re using and how your project unfolds.

Here's what I did with a sloped ceiling. Not quite your situation. My ceiling was finished so I used lag bolts to attach a small piece of 2x4, then I hung a vertical piece of 2x4 from that with more lag bolts. The wall rails were already there and I wanted deeper shelves on the left and shallower on the right, so I put up that vertical support then built around it, marking the attachments to the vertical piece as I went along to keep things level. I also rounded the exposed corners of the deeper shelves.

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To answer some of your specific questions:

  • Turnbuckles add unnecessary cost and complexity. Use them if you design and want the whole project with a "nautical" look but otherwise use the technique I described above.
  • Chain or wire or wood supports? Up to you. Use what you have. If you have to buy, go for low cost or for the look you want or for the materials you are most comfortable working with.
  • Vertical or horizontal through the rafters? If you use chain or wire it really doesn't matter. If you use wood or steel hangers, horizontal attachment through the side of the rafter will be easier.
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  1. Chain is very convenient as it doesn't require clamps or dealing with painfully sharp wires. It also looks pretty sweet. Use the lightest size that meets your load requirements, or something heavier if you want a different aesthetic. Cut with a hack saw or rotary cutoff wheel while securely clamped.

  2. Either type of eye is fine, though bolts through the rafters could put enough torque on the grain to split it. I'd use 3/8" x 3" eye screws from below, properly piloted. I tend to pilot for a very short depth at just under the thread diameter, and full depth at or slightly under the shank diameter. This makes starting the screw easier and prevents surface bulge.

  3. The rafter ties may be robust enough to hold your loads, but the rafters are connected to adjacent structure through the sheathing. This makes them more robust and stable. I'd lean in that direction, but if you can tug on the rafter ties and they feel sound, they probably are.

  4. I'd skip the turnbuckles. They're expensive and unnecessary, and you may not really have room for them anyway. Cut your chain to length, erring on the side of long (within one link's length, of course). If you need to adjust height, you can either run your eye bolt in a bit or twist the chain, or both.

Protips:

  • I use "quick links" (individual chain links with a threaded sleeve one side) to make the connections to the eye bolts. They're inexpensive and super slick to work with. You could also use open hooks, but I like the security against accidental lift-off that this arrangement provides.

  • Be sure to plan well so your chains end up plumb. Leaning chains ruin the appearance of a job well done. Take into consideration offsets due to the eye bolts, for example.

  • Make any lumber splices between chains, not at them. That way the boards carry load through cantilever and won't tend to sag as much over time at a hinge point.

  • It can really help to lubricate the screw threads with something like wax or soap. They're difficult to spin in, especially with older lumber. Use a steel rod as a lever through the eye, such as a long socket extension.

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  • Nice job there on your setup and thanks for such detailed feedback. Very grateful a community like this exists! I definitely agree with the wax tip as I used the same tip when installing some railing. Helped tremendously! Now I do have a question as jay613, with his equally awesome post, mentioned that he thinks number 3 in the photos, the rafter ties, would be a better bet. That's the rafter "ties" correct? Apologize for my lack of knowledge on this. I did tug on them a bit (#3 that is) and they did have some give to them but spread out I suppose the load is manageable. Thoughts?
    – The Viking
    Aug 4 at 18:21
  • Yes, #3 is a rafter tie (or collar tie, depending on where it's actually connected to the rafter). You'll have to be the judge of whether they're up to the task. I can't tell from here. jay613 doesn't make much of a case for his assertion, so I'm not sure why he suggests that. You're welcome. Please take the tour if you're unfamiliar with how this site works.
    – isherwood
    Aug 4 at 18:28
  • Awesome! I had one more question about getting the chains taut. You said you can leave the screw a little loose and tighten it up to get everything taut. However, doesn't this twist the chain and if so is that ok? That's what I was struggling with earlier and hence I saw somewhere where they recommended the turn buckle. Thanks again isherwood!
    – The Viking
    Aug 4 at 18:32
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    Lots of great tips in this answer! As noted elsewhere, we all agree on using the rafters not the ties and I corrected my answer. Just one thing. They are "quick links" not "easy links". I wrote a long answer on those and similar hardware recently :)
    – jay613
    Aug 5 at 0:50
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    Notes that isherwood has reused lumber from a different project for this shelving project. Nods in appreciation
    – FreeMan
    Aug 5 at 13:42

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