DIY Project: How to Build a Bookcase
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DIY Project: How to Build a Bookcase

Need some extra storage, but you don’t have the money to spend on expensive bookcases? Why not build a bookcase yourself?

Building a bookcase isn’t always a simple task, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Using standard lumber, your basic tools and eight easy steps, you can build your own inexpensive and great looking bookcase.

Here are eight simple steps in creating your own bookcase. Just keep in mind this is for your standard bookcase, if you want something smaller or bigger make sure you have the correct amount of lumber.

The bookcase measurements will be 72” x 32” (6’ x about 2’6”).  You can always alter your wood to make the bookcase bigger or smaller if you choose to do that. If you’re unsure about something ask questions. The last thing you’ll want to do is buy the wrong piece of lumber after it’s been cut and sanded down.

Now onto the fun part: building your bookcase.

Here is what you’re going to need:

  • 1 2"x 10" x 12' lumber
  • 2 pieces of 1"x 10" x 8'
  • "L" brackets (4 per shelf).
  • Piece of thin hardboard or 1/4" plywood.
  • Brads (1/2") and screws (#8 3/4" long)
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver and hammer
  • A saw or router
  • A drill and drill bits
  • If you plan on painting you’ll need stain and paint

Step 1: Have your 2”x10”12’ lumber cut into two pieces that are 72” long. These two pieces will be the sides of your bookcase.

Step 2: Take your two pieces of 1”X10”8’ and have them cut into three sections each. These sections, which are 32”, are going to be the top bottom as well as the shelves of your bookshelf.

Step 3: Sand the edges of all your boards. Depending on the type of wood you purchased, you can also paint or stain all of your boards. Don’t forget to paint the piece of plywood that’s going to be the back of the bookcase.

Step 4: Once you’ve decided how much space you want between each shelf, mark it on the sides of you bookcase with a pencil.

Step 5: Attach the “L” brackets to the sides of your bookcase and align them so that the shelf height matches where you marked the sides of the bookcase. Remember to put the brackets 3” from the front and 3” from the rear of the sides of the bookcase. It will look a lot nicer that way.

Step 6: Starting at the top, tighten the top shelf to the “L” brackets on both sides of your bookcase and then just work your way down. Attach the shelves according to your marks. Leave a space 1” from the top of your bookcase; it looks a lot nicer that way.

Step 7: If you painted your bookcase, paint your “L” brackets so that they make the color of your bookcase.

Step 8: Cut the hardboard to fit the back for the bookcase and attach it with the brads.

You have completed your bookcase and all it took was eight easy steps. Now that you’re done, enjoy your beautiful bookcase. Don’t forget to brag about a job well done either!

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Comments (4)

Sounds like a solid design. Blogdig recently posted another similar guide with some photo illustrations. Your design appears to be for a smaller bookcase - have you tried building one to this spec?

I haven't had the chance to. I'm moving into my own place soon and I plan on building my own bookcase and entertainment center. Big projects, but I think I can handle it.

Hi Angie, Before I start on what I hope will be accepted as constructive criticism because that's the way it's meant, let me say I'm in your corner. I use to write for the BeJane site, a site aimed at the needs of lady diyers.With that said, here my constructive criticizm. First, I really don't know why anyone would want to build a bookcase using 2" X 10" material (which is actually 1 3/4" X 9 3/4" material) in the first place. I grant you that it would be very sturdy and able to support many weighty tombs, but it would weigh a ton itself and stick out like a sore thumb next to any commercially made furniture. Most bookcases are made with 3/4" (finished thickness) solid wood or 3/4" hardwood plywood for the sides and shelves. Cabinet grade hardwood will cost more than your 2 X 10s but the more professional appearing finished product will mae the additional expense worthwhile. Second, your bookcase would be more functional if the shelves were adjustable to accept books of different heights. Instead of permanantly fastening each shelf in place with four L-brackets, you should drill the sides for shelf pins that can be purchased at any home center. To make getting the spacing the same on the front and back rows the same, I use a piece of peg board as a drilling template. Perfect hole spacing every time. Keep building.

I'm not an expert in making book shelves and I'll never claim to be one... but... Everyone likes different types of book shelves.. one way might work for you and another way might work for others... there's not just one way in making a book shelf... just keep that in mind :)