Cheap Scrap Rack

I’m STILL without a table saw (7+ weeks going strong, thanks Ridgid tool repair), so I’ve been struggling to come up with projects that don’t require rip cuts, dados, or rabbets. And since my shop seemed overly messy and cluttered I decided to build a scrap wood shelf. I wanted this to be cheap but sturdy, so I went with construction grade 2×4’s. The video is in the works (they always take so much more time than I anticipate), but I’ll provide pictures and a description below.

First I determined the size of the shelves that I wanted my rack to have. Given the corner of my shop that it was going in, and the size of some scrap sheet goods I had lying around, I decided on 2’x3′.  I then cut down some 2×4’s to make the base of each shelf. Given I was going to attach the legs on the sides rather than the front / back of the shelf, I decided to make the front and back pieces run the full width of the shelf rather than the side pieces run the full depth. I think the dimensions for these pieces came out to be 36″ for the front / back pieces, and 17″ for the side pieces.

After cutting all of the shelf supports, I started to put them together using pocket hole screws. This is the second project that I’ve done using pocket hole screws, and while I like the strength and piece of mind that comes with more traditional joinery (dovetails, mortise and tenon, dados, etc), for this project, pocket hole screws were perfect. Once all of the shelf supports were assembled, I quickly screwed on the shelf tops with a couple 1″ screws. The tops were either 5mm luan or or 1/4″ MDF.

Once the shelves were all assembled, all that was left was to attach them to the legs using 2-1/2″ screws. To make sure all of the shelves were going to be level, I cut a piece of scrap about 18″ long, and used that to space the bottom shelf up from the bottom of the legs. I then repeated this process to attach the top shelf that same distance down from the top of the legs. And again to attach the middle shelf about 18″ down from the top shelf.

All that was left to do was stand it upright, push it into position in my shop, and start organizing all of my scrap. I ended up using one shelf for pine and poplar, one shelf for oak, and another shelf for some plywood scraps. I also convinced myself to let go of 80% of my scrap and commit it to the burn-bin.

Overall, it was a quick and easy project that satisfied my urge to build something, helped me clean up my shop, and I got to complete another project using pocket hole screws.  If you’d like to download the plans for my scrap wood rack, the SketchUp file is available to download on my plans page.