Building a bookshelf is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to construct a great piece of furniture to house all of your much loved books. To begin, follow the steps below.

1) Decide the Bookshelf’s Size

Figure out where you’d like the bookshelf to be in your home. Will this be under a window, or reach towards the ceiling? Take down measurements on the height, width, and depth of the bookshelf. Make sure you take into account the sizes of the books, too… larger hardcover books sometimes require more depth than paperbacks. Decide on the number of shelves you’ll need, too.

2) Gather Building Materials

Your local hardware store can probably cut the majority of lumber for a nominal fee. Get all the pieces for the project pre-cut (or cut them yourself at home with a circular saw or jigsaw, for smaller projects). Pick up wood screws, construction strength wood glue, and paint if you plan on painting the bookshelf once it’s complete. If you think you may need metal supports or brackets to add structural stability to the shelves, remember to purchase those as well.

3) Sand & Mark the Wood

Lay the wood pieces on the floor. Lightly sand each piece with sandpaper, going over any rough edges to ensure no splintering or cracking occurs. When sanding is complete, grab a pencil and measure where each piece will go. Begin by taking the two vertical sides and marking one to two inches from the bottom for the first shelf (or base). Repeat for each of the remaining shelves and the top. If you’re skilled with woodworking, you can also rabbet each of the pieces and drill pilot holes if desired.

4) Assemble the Box Frame

Beginning from the bottom, use the measured, marked wood pieces to attach the bottom base shelf to each of the vertical sides of the bookshelf using wood screws. You may want to lay the piece on the floor or use clamps to hold it in place. Next, attach the top of the bookshelf, forming a “box” shape when complete. Use a level to ensure the bookshelf is even.

5) Attach the Shelves

Once the the frame is complete, install the shelves where desired from the previously marked installation points. Using pre-drilled pilot holes or demarcations, align the shelves to the marked sides of the bookshelf and drill with long woodscrews. You may want to reinforce the shelves with underlying metal brackets or supports, depending on the weight and size of the bookshelf. To be extra cautious, run a bead of wood glue around each of the attached shelves and the top of the bookshelf to ensure structural stability. Let dry.

6) Sand and Stain or Paint

Ensure the bookshelf is structurally sound and level. Then lightly sand the bookshelf to ensure a smooth edge. Apply the stain or paint of your choice, then a sealant to provide durability to the finish. Allow the sealer to cure over 24 or 48 hours. Once this is complete, the bookshelf is now ready to be stocked with volumes of your favorite books.

Additional Reading:

This Old House

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