Jenn Largesse

A trough shelf is an excellent place to store extra paint cans and supplies in your garage or workshop. Want to build your own? Watch as House One editor and DIY expert Jenn Largesse demonstrates how to build a trough shelf.

I’m updating my workshop and building these shelves as a sturdy option for paint and stain cans, but these could be used anywhere you need strong, sturdy deep shelves.

I’m using strips of leftover ¾-inch plywood to create 4-foot-long shelves.

I made two sizes, one to fit quart paint and stain cans and another taller and shallower size to fit spray paint cans. The full cut list is below.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for the list of tools and materials needed for this project. for this project over on

Project Cut List

Jenn Largesse

Quart Paint Can Shelf

¾” plywood base – 1 @ 5” W x length of shelf
¾” plywood back – 1 @ 7” H x length of shelf
¾” plywood front – 1 @ 4 ½” H x length of shelf
¾” plywood ends and divider – 3 @ 5”W x cut height to angle from 7” to 4 ½”

Spray Paint Can Shelf

¾” plywood base – 1 @ 3 ½” W x length of shelf
¾” plywood back – 1 @ 9” W x length of shelf
¾” plywood front – 1 @ 5” H x length of shelf
¾” plywood ends and divider – 3 @ 3 ½” W x cut height to angle from 9” to 5”

Steps for Building a DIY Trough Shelf

To prep the boards, first drill pocket holes along the back edge of the base of each shelf. Apply glue and place the base onto the backer board, flush with its bottom edge. Drive pocket hole screws through the base and into the backer.
Apply glue and then position the front board against the base. I already drilled countersunk pilot holes in the front board, so now I need to drive screws through the front board and into the edge of the base.
We’ll add ends and a divider to sturdy up the shelves and tie the front to the backer. To do this, set the end in place and mark the height of the front and back boards. Mark the angled line and cut it with a miter saw or circular saw. Repeat this cut to make the opposite end and the divider. Apply glue to the edges of the piece and then slide it into place. Drive screws through the front, back, and base and into the end to secure it in place. Repeat to attach the remaining end and the divider.
Fill the screw holes with wood filler and sand everything smooth before applying a coat of paint. If you’re filling the shelves with heavy items like me, screw through the backer and into studs in the wall.
Once complete, fill the shelves and enjoy your new organization.


¾” x 2’ x 4’ Plywood Project Panel
1 ¼ inch pocket hole screws
Wood glue
Wood filler
Paint or stain


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