Do you have an immediate need for more shelving space, but a limited budget? Don’t worry, we have the perfect solution that just about anyone can do.
Putting up a couple of shelves on cinder blocks doesn’t exactly involve rocket science. You do not even need a circular saw, although one would be nice, you can use a hand saw to saw an eight foot board in half and have two shelves plus the floor to stack books or whatever it is you need to store on.
How to Make Them
1. Decide how many shelves you want. We do not recommend more than three because the structure will not be permanently screwed or nailed together in any way. If you go with more than three shelves, you are risking having the whole set up tumble over. For each shelf, you will need two cinder blocks for support. One shelf requires 2 blocks, two requires 4 blocks and so on. If the shelves are to be longer than 6 feet, you may want a third block in the center to provide extra support, depending on the strength of the boards you are using.
2. Measure and cut your boards if needed. These are temporary make shift shelves, so you may be able to find boards of the proper length laying around or you may need to make some cuts with a handsaw or circular saw. Many boards come from the lumber yard in eight foot sections, so these can easily be cut in half to make two shelves. When cutting an eight foot board in half, measure carefully to find the exact center. Do not just measure four feet from one end because most eight foot boards are not exactly eight feet long. They may be off by an inch or so. You can use a variety of different size boards. The best sizes are 2 by 8, 2 by 10, 1 by 6, 1 by 8 or even 1 by 10. Anything smaller is not going to give you wide enough surface to stack books on attractively. For example a two by four is not your best choice.
3. Place your blocks. If the board is less than 7 feet long, two blocks is plenty of support in most cases. You can always place a third block in the center if it doesn’t seem stable. Place the cinder blocks with the holes facing out, so they can be use as little mini storage spaces. You can use the holes to place small trinkets or store computer discs or CD’s in. Place two blocks against a wall where possible and put the first board on top of them.
4. Stack them: Next, place two more blocks and then the second board on top again. Repeat until you have achieved your desired height or the structure losses it’s stability. Usually three boards is as high as you can safely go. If you need more than three shelves, you can double up the cinder blocks at each end to increase stability. There are adhesives made specially for bonding to a wide range of surfaces such as liquid nails, that could be used to secure the boards to the blocks, but perhaps that defeats the purpose of a temporary book shelf. If you decide to double up the cinderblocks at each end to stack 3 or four shelves high, try laying the blocks on their sides with the holes facing out the side. Then stack two blocks high on each end or for even more support, you can use four, depending on how many blocks you have laying around. If you use four, stack them two high side by side on each end.
As you can see, this is a beginner level, do it yourself project that anyone can do. These types of shelves are great for college dorms or even in anyone’s garage. We do not recommend setting up this type of shelving if you have children in the house because they could be dangerous to a rambunctious child at play. If they were to climb on them or fall into them, as kids will do on occasion, they could fall over and cause injuries to the children or others. Exercise caution when there are small children in the home.
This type of shelving is great for stacking heavy parts or tools on in the garage or workshop. If you use four blocks on each end and two boards going across them, you can even use the second shelf as a work bench of sorts.
Use your creativity to come up with your own unique designs. These little projects can be both fun and useful when you do not have much money to work with, but need to get it done.
You can often find old cinder blocks laying around or if you need to buy them, they cost less than a dollar each normally. Also, a good eight foot section of lumber can be purchased for as little as a few dollars from any lumber yard or home supply store. Most places will cut the boards in half for you on request.
Photo by Terry Ross, Creative Commons Attribution License