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  • You are here: Home-> News->Let us Build a Bookshelf

    If books are overflowing from your desktop, stacked around your living room or stuffed into plastic milk crates, it may be time for a bookshelf. Building your own bookshelf is easy. We give you the steps below for building a small bookshelf, but you can easily adjust the measurements to construct a case that even more successfully meets your storage needs.
    Design and Measure


    You can build a bookshelf to fit a particular space in your home or make one that's a standard size so that it can work in a variety of locations.

    -Measure the space where the bookshelf will sit. Decide how tall you want the finished shelf unit to be and how wide. Bookshelves are traditionally 12" or 16" deep; of course, you can customize to suit your needs.
    -Decide if your bookshelf will have an open or a closed back. If you keep the back open, your books may lean on or touch the wall behind the bookshelf.
    -Decide it you'll use it to house paperback, hardback or coffee table-sized books. For maximum versatility, this project uses adjustable shelving so any size book will fit.
    -Standard bookshelves come in two-, three-, four- and five-shelf varieties, but you can make as many shelves as you want for your project.

    choose your wood.jpg

    -  Choose your wood. The wood you use will greatly impact the finished look of your piece as well as its cost and durability. Since solid wood could cost thousands of dollars, you'll likely want to use plywood with a hardwood veneer. Choose a 3/4" plywood for the body and shelves of the bookshelf, and a 1/4" piece of plywood for the back.

        A plywood sheet is 4' wide, but keep in mind that a saw blade takes off 1/8". Calculate how many 8' long boards you can get from one sheet and use that to figure out how many sheets you will need. For this project, you'll need just one sheet.
        Wood veneers:
        Birch: best choice if you plan to paint your bookcase
        Maple: good base for a variety of stains
        Mahogany, Teak, Walnut, Cherry: These specialty woods may require a special order. Use a clear finish so the beauty of the wood shines through.

    chosse the right saw.jpg

    1.Choose the right saw. Use a table saw or a circular saw to cut your boards. Cutting plywood can be difficult and dangerous, so it's important to set yourself up for success.
    Circular saw: choose a carbide tip blade made for plywood. Lay the plywood good side down.
    Table saw: invest in an 80 TPI plywood blade, designed for rip cuts.Lay the plywood good side up.

    cut your side.jpg

    2.Cut your sides. Start by cutting your long boards to the width you want. Remember that standard widths are 12" or 16"; for this project, our depth will be 12". Push the wood through the saw at a consistent rate to ensure a cleaner cut.
    -Enlist the help of a friend. One of the challenges of working with plywood is that it comes in large 4' x 8' sheets,so it can be a bit difficult to handle on your own. Use saw horses or a roller table to also provide support.
    -Rip a piece of 3/4" birch plywood into a 12 1/2" wide strip. If you're using a circular saw, be sure to use a straight-edge guide.
    -Cut the strip into two 413/4" pieces to make the two bookcase sides. You can adjust this measurement up or down if you want your bookshelf to be taller or shorter.
    3 Cut your bookshelf bottom and shelves. Remember that the width of the saw blade is 1/8" and factor that into your measurements.


    -Rip a strip of 3/4" plywood 11⅞" wide to make the shelves.
    -Rip a second strip 12 1/8" to make the top and bottom shelves.
    -Cut the other two strips into 30½-" pieces to make the top, bottom and two shelves.
    4.Cut the rabbet joints. A rabbet is a groove cut into a piece of wood. In this case, creating rabbet joints will allow the top of the bookcase to sit squarely and securely on the two sides.
    -Set a saw to make a 3/8" cut. Cut a track into the end of the shelf by making cuts straight across the shelf in 1/8" increments until the track is as wide as the thickness of the plywood sides.

    drill the holes for adjustable shelving.jpg

    5. Drill the holes for adjustable shelving along the bookshelf sides. Since book sizes differ and your needs may change, it's best to make your shelves adjustable so that you can arrange and rearrange them as best suits you.
    - Clamp a pegboard (this will be your template for the holes)in place so that the first holes will be 4" above and 4" below the center shelf.
    - If you don't have a pegboard, you make a hole-drilling template out of ¾-inch pine cut to the same length as the bookcase sides. Use a drill/driver fitted with a ⅝-inch spade bit to bore a series of equally spaced holes in the template board.
    -Use a drill bit that's the same diameter as the shelf-support pegs and drill holes 2" from the edge in 2" increments.
    -Drill approximately 1/8" deeper than the length of the pegs. Put a piece of tape or a drill stop on the bit to guide you in drilling to the correct depth and take into account the thickness of the pegboard.