The Ultimate Guide to Building Your Bookcase

If you're a bibliophile, building your bookcase can be a great way to store books and other items in your home. It's also a fun project that you can do on a budget.

Whether you're looking for a simple wall of shelves to hold paperbacks or a custom built-in, these free plans will guide you through the process.

How to Measure

When you are ready to build your bookcase, you must know how to measure and plan. This will ensure that your final product is a solid and sturdy structure.

The first step to measuring your bookcase is to determine the height and width of your space. This will allow you to determine the number of shelves that you will need for your project.

Another important measurement is the depth of the bookcase. This will depend on what kind of books you want to store on the shelf.

For example, are you looking to keep trimmer pocketbooks or larger art books, or specialty coffee table books? This will also determine the size of the shelf you need.

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You can find bookcases in a variety of sizes, including standard, corner, and media storage. Some shelves have adjustable positions to make them multi-purpose pieces of furniture.

In addition, some shelves have glass doors that offer extra protection and security. These are often good options for families who have children.

The best way to measure a bookcase is to use a tape measure. This method is simple and effective and will give you a clear idea of how big the unit should be.

Once you have determined the overall dimensions, start by cutting the top and bottom shelf pieces. These should be at least 3/4-inch thick and cut about 1 1/2 inches shorter than the overall width of your bookcase frame.

If you are using a shelf pin jig to attach the shelves, drill holes for them on all of the side pieces with the jig in place. You will need 4 lines of holes, 2 on each side.

Alternatively, you can drill out the grooves where you want the pins to go on each side of your bookcase with a router. However, this will be much harder to do once the shelf is assembled.

Then, attach the face frame pieces to the front of the top and bottom shelf pieces with 1 1/4'' pocket hole screws. The face frame pieces should be positioned so that the top rail is flush with the top of the stiles and the bottom one is flush with the top of the shelf in your bookcase.


A bookcase is an essential piece of furniture in any home, and you can make it yourself with just a few basic tools. Here are the materials you'll need to build one:

Wood (optional)

The type of wood you use will affect both the look and durability of your finished project. If you're building a traditional built-in bookcase, solid wood is best, but if your budget is tight, a good plywood with a hardwood veneer may be your best option. Plywood is available in many different grades, so you'll be able to find one that's just right for your needs.

Pine, birch, and maple are common options. Birch is the best choice if you're going to paint your bookcase, and maple can be stained in a variety of colors.

Oak veneer plywood is also an excellent choice for bookcases. This kind of plywood is less expensive than sawn lumber, and it's much stronger and more durable than softwoods like pine.

Moulding and Trim

To finish the top of your bookcase, you'll need molding or a strip of wood that extends at an angle from each shelf. You can either cut wood molding to fit or buy premade ones at a hardware store, home center, or craft store. You'll need at least 2 1/2 feet of molding.

Plywood Edge Banding

Edges of a bookcase can be pretty boring, but there are ways to improve them. If you want a streamlined appearance, hide them behind a thin piece of plywood called "edge banding" ($6 for 25 ft. at home centers). You can also use polyurethane plastic trim to add curves or other decorative touches, but it's much easier to work with real wood.

Cordless Drill and Countersink Bit

A cordless drill with a countersink bit is necessary for inserting 2-inch screws into your woodwork. This bit cuts a beveled circle in the surface of the screw, making it easier to drive into the board.

Sandpaper or foam sanding blocks are handy for sanding detail work. They can also be useful for sanding the ends of boards before you attach them to a wall or other structure.


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Bookcases can become an attractive part of any decor scheme, and careful curation of your book collection can make them more than just functional storage. But with all the options out there, how do you know which one is right for your space?

Arranging your books by color, size, and texture can turn an ordinary shelf into a striking display. You can also create a more artistic effect by arranging your shelves by height, which gives each book an equal amount of eye-level space to appreciate.

For a sleek look, arranging by color is popular, with darker spines on lower shelves and lighter tones on higher ones. For a more playful arrangement, you could create a rainbow or group warm and cool tones together.

Alternatively, you can create a visual balance by arranging your books in stacks rather than lining them up, allowing you to use vertical space that might otherwise go unutilized. This can be especially helpful if your bookcase has shelves that vary in spacing, such as those that have shelf risers.

Alternating stacks is a good way to keep books organized by author and genre, for instance, if you’re reading a series. It’s also a great system for mass-market paperbacks, which can be awkward to organize by size or author without stacking them flat on a shelf.

You can also divide your books based on the frequency of use, with those that you read most often on the top shelves and those that you rarely open below. This system is convenient if you tend to consult your books frequently, though it might not work well for large collections.

Another good option is to sort your books by size, putting small paperbacks on top of larger hardbacks, for example. This can be a nice way to show off different types of books on the same shelf and help you find a book when you’re in the mood for a different genre.

Once you’ve established a system for organizing your books, start filling your bookcase with your favorite reads. Keeping your most valuable books in one place will allow you to easily find them when you need them, as well as make it easy to pick up the latest additions to your collection.


Assembling your bookcase is a great way to save money and put together a piece of furniture that you'll enjoy for years. The process is also simple, requiring only basic hand tools.

Whether you're assembling a small bookcase or a large shelving unit, there are a few key steps to keep in mind before you begin. These tips will ensure that you have a smooth and productive assembly.

1. Measure the frame parts before you start putting them together. This will help you ensure that you're using the right amount of material for your project and avoiding over-stripping the material.

2. Make pilot holes with a drill before you attach the pieces. This will provide a stronger, more stable structure for your shelves to rest on.

3. Use a carpenter's level to ensure that the frames are straight before you screw them together.

4. If your bookcase has a black frame, it's important to align and nail it incorrectly.

The back frame of most bookcases is a thin, lightweight material that is meant to help prevent things from falling out. While many ready-to-assemble bookcase kits use wooden pegs to hold the shelves in place, it's better to nail them into the frame body through the sides and back.

Finish Off the Frame with a Wood Trim.

To create a finished look, install a piece of wood trim around the edges of each shelf and the top of the frame. The trim can hang over the inside edge of each shelf or be flush, depending on your preference. Once you've completed the trim, use a level to adjust it so that it's plumb.

6. Fill the shelves with books, knick-knacks, and other decorative items.

The goal of a bookcase is to organize your collection and give you a space to display all of your favorite books. If you're a visual person, then color-coordinating your books can be a great way to organize them and create a cohesive look for your room.

A good way to organize books on a bookcase is by placing heavier objects like art books or storage bins on the bottom shelves and lighter items such as paperbacks and trinkets on the top shelves. This will give your shelves a well-rounded look while ensuring that you can reach all of your books without having to turn the shelf over.


If you’re a bibliophile, building your bookcase can be a great way to store books and other items in your home. This can be a nice way to show off different types of books on the same shelf and help you find a book when you’re in the mood for a different genre. A good way to organize books on a bookcase is by placing heavier objects like art books or storage bins on the bottom shelves and lighter items such as paperbacks and trinkets on the top shelves.



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