Attic Storage Shelf Plans

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Free woodworking plans to build 2-tier attic shelving system.

I was browsing online for something unrelated for my attic when I came across this AtticMaxx Shelving System. It's a pretty ingenious system for attics that can't have wide shelves because they either use engineered roof trusses or include purlin bracing in the framing which can get in the way of regular shelves. The problem though with the AtticMaxx is the price. For 8 shelves it's currently $169. Yikes! And it doesn't include the totes.

Below you'll find plans to build an attic shelving system that solves some of the same problems the AtticMax does but at a fraction of the cost. I also made the bottom shelves a little longer which will allow you to slide out the bottom tote so you can access the contents after you spin it sideways.

Important Note

This shelving system was designed for a roof that has rafters with 24" on center spacing. You may need to make adjustments based on your roof design. The length of the bottom shelf may also need to be adjusted.

However your rafters are spaced, subtract 1/4" from the inside width to allow 1/8" on each side for expansion.

The height of the shelves was designed to accommodate these Rubbermaid Commercial 20-Gallon Brute Totes. These are a good size for this space and have tight sealing lids that help keep insects and moisture out. Me personally, I'd also use some of these Ziploc Big Bags if I was storing clothes, sheets or towels too just to be safe.

Before storing anything up in your attic make sure you can access it safely and that your home can handle the extra weight .

What You'll Need



Cut List

Keep in mind you may need to make changes to the dimensions to accommodate your space.
  • (3) 8' uncut 2x4's for Base
  • (2) 7' 10-1/2" 2x4's for Top Shelf Supports
  • (6) 15-1/2" 2x4's for Shelf Uprights
  • (4) 22-1/4" x 23-7/8" Top Shelves
  • (4) 22-14" x 42" Bottom Shelves

Cut Plan



Step 1: Prepare Shelf Uprights

The Shelf Uprights are cut from 2x4's so that they are 15-1/2" long. Two sets of pocket holes need to be drilled on the ends, one for the top and one for the bottom. Note that there is a slight difference between the two so mark the top and bottom.

For the top holes, drill using your Kreg Jig set up as you normally would for joining 2 1-1/2" thick board together. You'll be using 2-1/2" screws in these holes.

For the bottom holes, set up your Kreg Jig as if you were drilling into 1" thick stock. For these holes 1-1/4" screws will be used.

Step 2: Install Back Base 2x4

The base pieces are full 8' lengths of 2x4 studs. Start by attaching the back base board. It needs to be set forward of the roof enough so that there's at least a 3' vertical clearance from the bottom of the base to the roof rafters or any other obstructions such as rafter vent baffles.

The ends of the 2x4 should fall in the middle of the ceiling joist (or rafter ties). Screw the base down using 2 2-1/2" deck screws at each joist.

Step 3: Install Remaining Base 2x4s

Install the remaining two 2x4 Bases. The front 2x4 should be spaced so that the front of the front board is 42" from the back of the back 2x4.

The middle base should be installed so that it's about 24" from the back 2x4 but you may need to adjust that because of the purlin supports. Try to get it as close as you can to the 24" mark.

Screw these boards down to the joists using 2-1/2" deck screws.

Step 4: Install Bottom Shelves

Next bring up your precut bottom shelves and slip them in between the purlin supports as snown.

Attach the shelves to the base 2x4's using 1-1/4" deck screws. Predrill and countersink first. 4 screws on each base for each shelf spaced about 5" apart.

Step 5: Install Shelf Uprights

Attach the shelf uprights to the bottom shelf OSB. The front uprights need to be positioned in a location that allows you to place a 2x4 over the top of them without hitting any of the roof framing. This may require you to make a change to the size of the upper shelf or the position of the base 2x4's.

Keep in mind that the pocket holes you marked as B will go towards the shelf. Use 2-1/2" pocket screws for the back uprights and 1-1/4" pocket screws for the front uprights unless your middle base is directly below them.

I only went with 6 uprights because in general I don't think it's a good idea to store too much weight up in your attic. If you know your ceiling and roof can support the weight and want to build sturdier shelves you can add more if you wish.

Step 6: Install Upper Shelf Supports

Now install the 2 2x4 top shelf supports. Start with the back one so you have more room to work with.

Use 2-1/2" pocket hole screws to screw up from the shelf uprights into the top shelf support at each shelf upright.

Step 7: Install Upper Shelves

Finally slip the top shelves on to the top shelf supports and attach to the supports with 1-1/4" deck screws that you pre-drill and countersink. Use 4 screws down into each support for each shelf. spaced about 5" apart.

You're all set to start loading the shelves up with storage totes.


  1. This is such a creative design! I love how simple it looks to build too. Thanks so much for the instructions.

  2. Thank you very much for these plans and ideas. I have been looking for something like this since I bought my house 14 years ago. This will truly make a storage difference. I can not find the cost of the automatic attic ladder or how and where to purchase one. There is a lot of building in my area over the past ten years and I would be willing to say I could sell these to my already established business customers that I do quarterly pest control for. Please contact me through Google.

  3. What is needed is angled tote boxes! There's always space wasted at the rear. That's the whole problem with an angled wall!