Let’s face it, no one considers a bookshelf as a worthy piece of furniture to invest in unless their pile of books starts getting out of control. Hence, if you’re also one of those who have their photos and books placed in random corners of the house, now may be a good time to consider re-homing them to their own shelves.
However, here’s the good news. You don’t necessarily need a workshop of tools, a master carpenter, or hundreds of dollars to add this key piece of furniture to your home. Essentially, all they require is some research, a few tools, and of course, dedication.
Once you have these ingredients in place, put your work gear on and get started!
So, are you wondering how to build your own bookshelves? Here’s a detailed guide to help you start building your first one.
Why Do You Need a Bookshelf After All?
Contrary to popular belief, a bookshelf is not only something you use as a tool for organizing stuff, but it’s also a vital home décor asset to give your home that classy appearance. If you’re still not convinced, here are all the reasons you must invest in a bookshelf regardless of your spacing needs.
You Get a Sense of Organization
Unless you like your books and other similar items lying around in different corners of the house, you may want to think about getting them all together in one place. Organizing your books does not only make your life easier but also leaves a lasting impression on those who visit occasionally.
A Bookshelf Is Not Just For Books
Think about all the picture frames, souvenirs, memorabilia, and trinkets you haven’t taken out of the storeroom yet. They may have been suffocating in the attic for years because there wasn’t enough space to use them.
However, once you have a fully functional structure with multiple shelves in it, why not use it to the best of its ability? Who said bookshelves were only supposed to facilitate books? You can place your previously abandoned items in it because not only will it free up some space in your attic, but it will also give your living room’s appearance of much-needed sprucing up.
What Type of Wood Do You Need?
Building a bookshelf requires a careful analysis of certain factors. One of them is the kind of wood you use because it determines not only the final appearance of the shelf but also the burden it can endure when it comes to placing books and other items.
Traditionally, people prefer to use solid wood boards. However, they may end up digging a hole in your pocket. Hence, you may want to look into plywood with hardwood veneer as it’s not only a more economical choice, but in many cases, it’s also stronger than other alternatives like solid softwoods, for instance.
If you don’t know how to build your own shelves, you may want to learn a few basics:
- Maple is a great choice if you want to use a variety of stains on the wood.
- Birch works well if you’re planning to paint the shelf at the end.
- If your veneer plywood is made using walnut, teak, or mahogany, it’s better to use a clear finish so your wood can shine through.
How to Build Your Own Bookshelves
Building the rest of your bookshelves becomes much less challenging once you learn the basics of building one. Here are all the steps involved in creating your very first bookshelf.
Cut the Supports, Shelves, and Legs
- Once you have your plywood, take it to a lumberyard and get it cut into boards. However, make sure that you’ve decided on the dimensions beforehand. Also, sand the wood before staining or priming it and let it dry before cutting or assembling any parts.
- Cut two legs based on the measurement of the wall you would like to place the bookshelf against.
- Lay the two legs on a table and make sure that they’re even.
- Since you’ll be moving the shelfmarks from one board to another, use a framing square to create those marks.
- Mark the width of each shelf by placing a plywood scrap on the corner at each line.
- Determine the sizes of all the support pieces and use a circular saw to cut them from the plywood.
Connect the Supports With the Legs
- Once you have your support pieces cut, nail, and glue them to the legs. This part of the process gets a little tricky because if your measurements aren’t precise or even, you may have to start over.
- Start off with the bottom of the first leg. Gather your lowest support pieces and nail them in the four corners using 3D nails.
- Position the next support and continue doing so until your top supports are in place. Make sure they finish at least ¾ inch from your topmost edge. Then repeat the process on the second leg.
Get the Box Together
Now comes the part where you have to attach the bookshelf to the wall.
- Cut a piece of plywood in a way that it’s at least 1.5 inches shorter than the shelf.
- Make the legs stand on their back edges and make sure the supports face each other.
- Drill two holes into the legs and make sure that the holes are drilled through the leg and support both.
- Bring in the bottom shelf and place it in a way that it provides the remaining parts some support.
- Now get the assembled frame in place and add the hanging strip and supports on top of the bookshelf.
- Drill two pilot holes on the edges of the top bookshelf. Drill two holes into each support. Use a screw or glue to put the top above in place.
Even Out the Book Shelf
- Now that your frame is up and ready, slide the shelves into it.
- Make sure that it’s even from all ends and if you feel that a certain side needs a little raising up, place some thin wood shims under that particular foot.
Do the Plumbing
Congratulations on reaching the third last step of the guide on how to build your own bookshelves. If you’ve managed to come this far, then you’ve almost aced your first ever DIY project.
- Start off by holding a level in a vertical position and checking the bookshelf for any plumbing requirements.
- If needed, add some shims and once you’re satisfied with the leveling, tap some shims wherever you see a gap aainst the wall. This is necessary as it ensures your frame is tight.
- Bring in a stud finder and mark all the spots where your wall studs are falling under the hanging strip.
- At each stud mark in the hanging strip, drill two holes, one counterbore, and one clearance.
- Now use 2.5-inch screws in the pilot holes to fasten the bookshelf securely.
Fix the Kickboard
- Based on the size of the lowest supports on your frame, cut a plywood piece as it will be the nailer for your kick plate.
- Slide this plywood piece on the bottom shelf and use 6D finish nails to attach it securely.
- The kick plate should be in a position where it’s against the support edges and the nailer.
Get to the Scribing
- To finish the top and the sides of the bookcase, use ½ trim.
- Hold it tight against the wall and over a leg of the bookshelf.
- Adjust this trim until you think it’s plumb and fix it with 6D nails.
- Look for any gaps between the wall and the trim. In order to span this gap, open your scribe, run it along the wall so the wall’s contours can be transferred onto the trim.
- Now remove the trim and use a jigsaw to cut along the line you scribed.
- Attach this trim with 6D finish nails and glue and repeat the same process of the other leg.
Finally, fill any holes with a wax pencil or putty, so it matches the color of the stained wood. Last but not least, give your structure the desired finish by painting or waxing.
One of the best things about building your own bookshelf is that it gives you the luxury of choice. You can build it however you like. Even if it doesn’t turn out well, you don’t have much to lose.
On the other hand, paying a carpenter to do the same or purchasing a ready-made one from the market may not always suit your needs best. At the same time, it may also cost you an arm and a leg.
In the end, this extensive guide on how to build your own bookshelves may just be your first step into the world of DIY projects. If all turns out well, viola! You’ll have yourself a mini library, some antique pieces of décor, and organization tools all in one place.