Why do we use 2x4s for our shelf decking?


Rhino Shelf DIY Garage storage shelves are structural and strong. The best on the market, in fact.

Part of that design is that Rhino Shelves were designed to use 2x4 lumber as the decking between the aluminum assemblies.  Why 2 x 4's?  Besides being a great choice, they are about the strongest material for the price you can get. For the Rhino Shelf, each bay (4' section) was designed to fit five 2x4s placed one 2x4 width apart.  Four additional 2x4's can be used to fill in and create a solid deck effect. For the RhinoMini each bay was designed to fit three 2x4s placed one 2x4 width apart.

Other variations  for a solid deck effect are possible. Expanded metal can be put on top; 3/4" plywood can be glued and screwed to the 2x4s; or you may replace the 2x4s with 1x4s and top them with 1/2" plywood.

Wood decking is the ideal solution for the decking in any event. This allows you to easily (and cheaply) add screw-in hooks and hangers available at local big-box or hardware stores for about $1 each!  Remember a 2x4 is actually 1-1/2" thick, so it will handle a screw-in embedment of up to about 1/ 1/4".  

Which 2x4? Use a local mill or lumberyard if you can. Big box stores are okay too, as long as you take the time to select the best. Buy boards 96" long (8'), not the standard 93" studs.  The 96" length reduces waste when you trim your boards to fit. Also, be selective of the 2x4s that you purchase.  The extra time you take to select the straightest, knot-free, close-grained boards, will be worth your time.  

Now that you are a shelf builder, let me tell you about a resource that the pros use.  A critical point in shelf design, whether it's for a bookcase or a garage shelf, is the amount of static load a given shelf can take given the type of wood and the dimension and the resulting "sag". Instead of looking up formulas for bending moments and beam deflection and trying to find the modulus of elasticity of various woods, yada, yada,.... they use the famous SAGULATOR.

No lie it's a real thing!  

The Sagulator can be found at http://www.woodbin.com/calcs/sagulator.htm and is a good tool.  

How to use the Sagulator:  For our shelves, if you have utilized 2x4's in your installation, choose inches and use a depth of 17.5" (5 boards x 3.5") and a thickness of 1.5" (the actual dimensions of a 2 x 4 are 1.5" x 3.5").  Span should be 48" unless you have actual measurements. Keep changing your materials and the load figure, and click on the 'Compute Sag' button.

Happy Rhino Shelving!