building garage shelving, already ordered lumber:

4x4 8' post

2x6 10' horizontals

1/2 OSB ply, ripped to 2'x8' lengths

Should i notch the 4x4 vertical posts, then fit the 2x6's in the notches? I'm concerned the corner posts will have too much notched out and compromise the vertical strength. The notch would be 1.5" by 5.5" to accommodate the 2x6's.

Sketch attached.


enter image description here


Here is a model of the non-notched version. All horizontals are 2x6, verticals are 4x4, shelving is 1/2" OSB. There are 2 "units" that are sitting next to each other, each shelving unit is 10' long. I will put 2 more vertical posts midway down each 10' span.

The whole reason I thought about the notches like shown above was to take the strain off the 2x6 fasteners. Over a 10' span, you can really pile a lot of stuff on these shelves each is 24" deep.

Edit: updated sketch enter image description here

Edit: another top/bottom sketch of 4x4 1/2" notch, with inside-set 2x6's

enter image description here enter image description here

  • Is there are particular reason you would prefer to notch the 4x4s? I ask because, according to your drawing, you'll be effectively reducing the 4x4 to a 2x2 at the notches, so maybe the easier question is: Would you feel comfortable building it with 2x2s instead?
    – Jacob S
    Jul 22, 2013 at 19:27
  • 1
    only reason I thought of this is because I saw a decking company notch the 6x6's that hold up our deck. The notches supported the horizontal 2x12's. The builder said this is code requirement.
    – dan
    Jul 22, 2013 at 19:46
  • Dan -- just curious, why focus on this rather than solving this problem by shortening the shelves? It seems to me that, with 2 additional 4x4s, you could have 2 uprights every 5 feet, share common uprights at 10 ft and tie each 10ft 2x6 together at the center uprights with metal strapping ties. It just seems like there could be an easier solution to your load-bearing concerns. Not to mention, it would give you a better load distribution. Just curious.
    – Jacob S
    Jul 23, 2013 at 14:00
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    Jacob-yes, I planned on having 2 more 4x4's, just hadn't added it to the sketch. I uploaded a new sketch that has them added. I don't want to share common 4x4's at 10' as that would mean each 2x6 has less contact with the 4x4. For this reason, I'm just building separate 10' units that will be next to each other.
    – dan
    Jul 23, 2013 at 14:54
  • Ahh -- that is actually much less concerning than 2x6s at 10' span between corner 4x4s and can't agree more with @mike now. My only other suggestion (which I'm sure you have already planned) would be to include cross-bracing about every 30" to spread uneven distributions. By the time you're done, it should make a mighty-fine jungle gym. :-)
    – Jacob S
    Jul 23, 2013 at 19:55

2 Answers 2


Depends on overall design and load, and, in terms of screw/nails, it depends on what will be anchored to what. A floor plan annotated with fastener locations would help.

If you are notching in order to transfer load to the 4x4, a 1/2" deep notch is all that is necessary. Notching will take shear stresses off the associated screws/nails/bolts.

Great new drawing.

The main design considerations are the unit racking and collapsing (side to side), or the units tilting forward and falling over. Attaching the units to the back-wall in a couple places will stabilize the units, particularly their back portions. If the 1/2" OSB is screwed/nailed to the front and to the back 10' 2x6's, then the back-wall attachment will also stabilize the front portions of the units as well. If units can be attached to an end-wall, then attaching to both back and end walls will fully stabilize the units without needing to screw/nail the 1/2" OSB to the 2x6s. If back and/or end wall attachments are not feasible, I'd place 2x4 cleats on the ceiling and secure the 4x4 posts to those cleats.

On both the front and back, I'd put the 10' 2x6s on the inside of the posts, notching the posts 1/2" deep. This will give more support to the 1/2" OSB over the 24" dimension. Another benefit of internal attachment is that the 2x6s will be recessed 3" from the outside edge of the 1/2" OSB and 4x4s. Given that, you'll be able to hang all kinds of small things on the outside face of the front 2x6s without the items sticking out. You could also screw 4.5" wide lengths of 1/2 OSB (or anything similar, such as 1x6) to the underside edge of the 2x6s to create 3" deep shelves for light weight items.

If one end of the unit is open (such as facing the garage door, I'd consider moving the two 4x4 end-posts inward 16-30", which would cantilever the ends of the 10' 2x6s, creating 2-sided open access to the cantilevered portion of shelving.

The 5.5" of space immediately underneath the shelves will be kind-of wasted space. If one end of the unit is open, then I'd attach 24" wide OSB underneath the 2x6s to create deep pockets (cubby holes) open on that one end, for storing long stuff. The 24" long 2x6 end-caps can be under-mounted or top-mounted.

  • 1
    2x6's will be anchored to 4x4 posts with bolts. Yes, I'm notching to take stress off of the fasteners. As far as load, it's just household stuff, plastic totes, ect...
    – dan
    Jul 22, 2013 at 19:53
  • Then I'd go with 1/2" deep notches. The more detailed you can be about the design and about what-will-be-fastend-to-what, the easier for us to suggest simplifications that will make it easier to build and stronger.
    – mike
    Jul 22, 2013 at 19:57
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    attached a new model that should illustrate pretty well
    – dan
    Jul 22, 2013 at 20:19
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    great points, securing to both the 1 side wall and also the back are no problem. Drywallers left pencil lines down the center of the studs. thanks again!
    – dan
    Jul 22, 2013 at 23:35
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    added 2 more sketches that show your suggestions. What are you thoughts of the 3" overhang OSB? You think it will ever break off?
    – dan
    Jul 23, 2013 at 20:18

I built some garage shelving like the second drawing (without notches) some time back. I used 2x4 instead of 4x4. I screwed 2x4 rails to it.

Honestly, it was very strong shelving. I put some very heavy loads on it in excess of 250kg. I do think notching it would make it effectively like a 2x2 in the notched sections and reduce it's strength in the horizontal direction slightly, but vertically perhaps a little stronger.

Personally, I don't think I'd bother. It will add some strength vertically, but to me this would be purely cosmetic. If I were to do it again I'd just screw it together with some screws like the following:

enter image description here

Which is what the builders who extended our house with used extensively on our decking (galv ones though) and to anchor some large 12" beams to the wall framing.

I think you'll find that 2 of these to be strong enough.

But, since you've ordered your timber it probably is fine to stick with your design.

  • 1
    thanks Matt. I'm still undecided as to fasteners. At first I was thinking carriage bolts to hold horizontals to 4x4 posts, but these would be quicker. I noticed our builders use quite a few of these also, hang cabinets, decking, ect... Plus, its a good reason to get a new impact driver!
    – dan
    Jul 23, 2013 at 13:10

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