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Home DIY - Make Your Own Bookshelves On A Saturday Afternoon!

Updated on August 24, 2014

One of the most fulfilling hobbies for homeowners is a DIY (Do It Yourself) project and successfully making your own bookshelves or table can be satisfying as hell. I am a handy person and it gives me immense pleasure to learn to do a few things around the house. I am really into woodworking and I decided to give it a try in 2002. I started with smaller projects and now I am at the point where I am trying to build a bunk bed for my children.

I started out with Youtube videos and then when I had my grasp on the basics (after a LOT of reading) I looked into other products.

Bookshelf building is one of the easiest yet most practical activities. Bookshelves can be expensive when you buy them already finished yet they are only made of wood (or maybe plastic), paint or stain, and some nails or glue so why do they cost so much? We can make our own, to the precise length and width we actually need, for pennies! Let’s get started with a basic shelf and move on to a bit more demanding project.

Let’s first make a 12” by 4” shelf for a few paperback books

We need:

1 board made of pine wood 12” x 4” x ¾”

2 shelf brackets 3” x 3”

8 Phillips head wood screws ½” in length

Phillips head screwdriver

Small can of wood stain

Paint brush

Total cost for supplies = $2-$4 (for wood, brackets, stain, and screws)

Single Board Shelf Held Up By A Shelf Bracket
Single Board Shelf Held Up By A Shelf Bracket

Simple book shelf assembled in ½ hour

Project cost is based on the assumption you already have a screwdriver and small paint brush.

#1 Apply stain to the board and allow to dry (see instructions on can of stain)

#2 Install the brackets onto the board using 4 screws and screwdriver

#3 Find a stud in your wall (use a stud finder if possible) or use molly screws

#4 Install shelf with brackets onto wall using remaining 4 screws

#5 Place 8 to 10 paperback books on shelf and admire your handiwork!

Feeling brave? Move up to a set of book shelves and a weekend project

You can build a home for your books, video tapes, or DVD’s in another easy to do it yourself activity that costs very little yet makes a great piece of furniture you will keep for years! We have some bookshelves we put together in a weekend over 30 years ago and they still look like new and do their job extremely well. You can make some today that will cost perhaps $20 to $30 for materials and comparable to some selling for $300 and more! The store bought ones may not be as sturdy as those you DIY!

Plan it and measure what you will need:

Make 4 foot wide by 6 foot tall bookshelves deep enough to hold whatever you plan to store there with 6” as a good depth that will hold almost anything you choose. ¾” is the ideal thickness for shelving to hold books, etc.

#1 You will want to buy 2 boards that are 6 inches by 6 foot in length (have the home improvement store employee cut them down from the 8 foot length they generally come in so you don’t worry about getting 8 footers at home!).

#2 Depending on how high you wish each shelf to be you will need 6 or 8 boards that are 6 inches deep by 4 foot in length and also ¾” thick.

#3 One quart of latex paint or a wood stain. Paint is a good idea as you can match your room décor or walls if you wish. You can also buy a can or two of paint and simply spray it on!

#4 Paint brush 4” in width

#5 Shelf supports (2” metal or plastic). Packages come in various amounts so get more than you think you will need or about 36-40.

#6 Wood glue

#7 wood screws, ½” in length . Again these come packaged so buy a good sized box containing maybe 80 or more. It is always better to have too many than too few!

Mutli-Shelf Book Case Made of Plain Wood Boards
Mutli-Shelf Book Case Made of Plain Wood Boards

Easy to assemble shelves that will last for decades!

#1 Lay out your boards on a flat surface outside. Attach a bottom 4’ board to one of the 6’ side boards first with glue then shelf supports using screws.

#2 Once you have an L shaped bookshelf started add the second side board in the same way.

3# Now you will have a U shape being 6’ tall and 4’ wide. Allow the glue connecting these first three attached boards to dry before proceeding then add shelving one at a time to make shelves the height you wish. Some can even be taller than others depending on what you plan to store on them.

#4 Once you are done building your shelves and the glue has dried you can paint your new shelves using either paint brush or spray can. Let the paint dry thoroughly before bringing them into your house and adding your movies or books or whatever and enjoy!

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Need a reason to laugh at others? Here are some goof ups that you should avoid while attempting your own DIY.

Feel free to comment here and let me know how I can make the HUB better ... I love to hear from my readers

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    • Only1Talat profile image

      Only1Talat 3 years ago

      @trusouldj , really sorry to have not replied earlier. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • trusouldj profile image

      trusouldj 4 years ago from Indiana

      Interesting. Curious about any other shelf ideas. I just made some out of milk crates, surprising myself. It just kind of came to me and I'm pretty proud of myself, being that I have an abundance of CDs, books and DVDs.