33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (2023)

    Home Fixtures Bookcases

    33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (1)Elizabeth FlahertyUpdated: Mar. 03, 2023

      A bookcase or shelf is an extremely useful home storage system. In this collection, you'll discover 33 project plans and learn building tips to maximize your bookcase or shelf's storing capacity.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (2)Family Handyman

      Hanging Wall Bookcase: Suspended Bookshelves

      The steel cable and shaft collars add style and strength to this suspended bookshelf.Build this simple set of book or display shelves in a single weekend. They're strong and stylish. By changing materials or finishes you can easily customize them to fit the décor of any room.Get the project plans here.


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      Floating Bookshelves

      Strong, quick to build, no visible supports and made from only two parts!These shelves are handsome, easy to build and inexpensive. And they're strong even though they have no visible supports. They appear to float on the wall, no clunky hardware or brackets. We made them from only two parts—half of a hollow core door and a 2x4.Get the project plans here.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (4)Family Handyman

      DIY Bed Built-in Shelves

      Nightstands are just not big enough for everything: lamp, alarm clock, phone, photos of your kids ... so books, magazines, your tablet or your cup of tea ends up on the floor.This shelf unit gives you about 10 times more space for decorative and essential stuff. And its dazzling design will transform your room. Best of all, it's easy to build with basic tools.Get the project plans here.


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      Build a Built-in Bookcase

      No complex wood joints, no tricky techniques—simply glue, screw and nail the parts together.Learn how to use inexpensive materials like birch plywood and standard trim to build this classic, built-in wooden bookcase.Get the project plans here.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (6)Family Handyman

      Built-in Mission Oak bookcase

      This built-in Mission Oak bookcase features loads of shelf space, vertical grain wood, solid oak construction and a design that can be easily altered to fit your room.Get the project plans here.


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      Simple Bookshelf: Cottage Shelf with Branches

      Create this distinctive display shelf in minutes!Make this twig furniture style shelf from all-natural materials. Just cut the supports from branches, screw on a shelf, attach it to the wall and you're done!Get the project plans here.Plus: How to hang shelves.


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      Bookcase Built by Two

      Build this simple pine bookshelf in one day with a miter saw, biscuits—and a young helper. It's a great way to teach your son or daughter about woodworking and tool use.Get the project plans here.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (9)Family Handyman

      Leaning Tower of Shelves

      This stylish but sturdy shelf unit will neatly hold your stuff - and you can build it in a day. The shelves are tough enough to hold books, while its whimsical look makes it a perfect addition to almost any room. It's a great woodworking project to give as a gift or use in your own home.Looking for more styles? Here’s our list of different types of shelves to organize your home.


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      Stylish Shelves

      As far as built-in bookshelves go, this is one of the easiest projects to build yourself. We used basic building techniques and cabinets from a home center to make the construction as simple as possible. But despite its simplicity, the shelves have a custom-built look that will enhance any room.Get the project plans here.

      Fun fact: Built-in bookshelves were one of the top trending DIY projects of 2022.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (11)Family Handyman

      Wall Cabinet for Books

      In one weekend morning you can build this wall cabinet for your books.Pull out your table saw and we'll show you how to build a simple, sturdy wall-mount cabinet.Get the project plans here.


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      DIY Box Shelves

      Box shelves are inexpensive, easy to make and highly versatile. You can build a bunch for less than $100! Make the combination of sizes and depths you need for any room, from the living room to the laundry. Box construction techniques are always the same.Get the project plans here.


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      Saturday Morning Shelf

      his versatile cherry shelf goes together in a few hours, and with a quick-drying finish you can have it on the wall in a day. The extra-wide top makes it perfect for books, antiques and collectibles.Build it before lunch—spray on the finish after dinner.Get the project plans here.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (14)Family Handyman

      Install a Wall-Bed-Bookcase Combo

      A wall-bed combination or drop-down bed helps save a lot of room in a tight basement, so consider installing this DIY Murphy bed and bookcase. It's one of many great basement bedroom ideas. Further, aMurphy bed can be super simple: Some are just an upright box that contains a folddown bed. But this is a deluxe version because it includes ample storage.Get the full project instructions here.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (15)Family Handyman

      Classic Simple Bookcase

      A veteran woodworker and a beginner team up to build a classic bookcase.Craftsman-style furniture designs are still popular today, and with modern tools you can build a bookcase like this classic from the Stickley catalog in a weekend.Get the project plans here.


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      Build a Showcase Wall!

      This built-in entertainment center mixes architectural simplicity with a pop of color to make it stand out. To create this showstopper of a bookcase in your home, check out the complete DIY how-to instructions check out the complete DIY how-to instructions here.Have you ever heard of ombre wallpaper? Learn why you should consider it for your interior walls.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (17)Family Handyman

      Over the Door Bookshelf

      Build a display shelf over the door to show off your knick knacks, books or to add storage space to a small room. As a bonus, if you increase the height and depth of the “box” that forms the core of each shelf, these shelves can double as valances for window curtains or blinds.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (18)Family Handyman

      Build a Traditional Bookshelf

      Need a great-looking bookshelf with classic lines by tomorrow? Using clever shortcuts and standard materials, you canbuild a bookshelflike this in a day.Get the project plans here.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (19)The Family Handyman

      Small Room Ideas: Floor-to-Ceiling Bookcase

      A floor-to-ceiling bookcase shows off a small room's height while adding a lot of space-saving vertical storage. Click here to get detailed plans for building this Greek Revival-style wood bookcase.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (20)Family Handyman

      Custom Box Shelves

      Organize the clutter. These simple, but handsome, box shelves will store books, hats, shoes, and all kinds of knick-knacks. You can even sit on them!Get the project plans here.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (21)Family Handyman

      Bifold Bookcase Hides a Secret Room

      How about building a secret room hidden behind a door that's masquerading as a bookcase—just like in the movies? Not sure how to build the entrance? Well, just buy a kit. These bookcase doors fromWoodfold Manufacturing are perfect for disguising the secret entrance. The bifold-style doors look like a typical bookcase when they’re closed. In fact, you can even load up the shelves with 500 lbs. of books or knickknacks. The doors slide open along a steel roller system at the top and the bottom to reveal the secret room.Each bookcase door has a fixed middle shelf and four adjustable shelves. The doors are available in hardwood veneers, MDF or vinyl-lam. Bookcase sizes range from 36in. to 66in.wide and up to 96in. high. Order them directly from the manufacturer. The system, weighing 400 lbs., will show up on a single pallet. Prices start at $2,200 (plus shipping) for the entire system.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (22)Via themurphydoor.com

      Hidden Bookcase Storage

      You can easily create a hidden storage space that is concealed with a bookcase. When you need to get into the space, just pull the bookcase out and then push it back to hide your treasures when you are finished. Plus: How to build a bookcase


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      Make Your Own Built-In Shelves

      Use this project forbuilt-in shelvesto unlock hidden storage space between the studs in your walls. Install a single, open box of shelves, or install two boxes and add a set of glass doors to make a cabinet.Get the project plans here.


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      Simple Low-Tech Wall Shelf

      We wanted to design a shelf that anyone with basic tools could build. This shelf is a great project for a beginning woodworker, and since it's so easy to adapt to different uses, a more advanced DIYer can have a lot of fun customizing it.Get the project plans here.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (25)Family Handyman

      Modular Masterpiece

      This modular masterpiece is a stunning wall unit that's infinitely flexible-customize it to suit your space and your stuff.Back when I was just starting out in my first apartment, I piled up milk crates to store all my worldly goods. It was a simple idea, and it worked like a charm. Fast-forward many years: Faced with a need to store and display lots more stuff, I made plywood boxes in two sizes and mixed them up, adding doors to some and painting the inside backs of others the same color as my wall. The result was a stunning showcase that's adaptable to any situation and includes useful storage space.Get the project plans here.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (26)Family Handyman

      Stackable Bookshelves plus a Desk

      It's shelving, storage, a desk and work surface combined!Make your own stackable shelves. A simple shop-made jig makes this project simple to build and a snap to assemble.Get the project plans here.


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      Cover plywood edges fast

      Plywood is an essential material for bookcases. It's strong, affordable and good looking. There's just one problem: those ugly edges. You can hide edges behind solid wood or moldings, but the quickest, easiest edge solution is a thin strip of wood veneer called “edge banding” ($6 for 25 ft. at home centers). The process couldn't be simpler: You just iron on the adhesive-backed veneer and trim off the excess.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (28)Family Handyman

      Perfect cuts every time with a sled

      A sled will turn your table saw into a crosscutting and mitering machine. You can build one, plus a miter-cutting attachment, in a couple of hours.If you already have a miter saw, you're probably wondering, “Why bother?” Because no miter saw can match the reliable accuracy of a sled. A sled gives you consistent, clean and exact cuts and it crosscuts stock up to 19 in. wide—perfect for shelves and other wide parts.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (29)Family Handyman

      Adjustable shelves simplify building

      Adjustable shelves beat fixed shelves in just about every way. They make storage and display space more versatile, of course. And they're usually just slabs of plywood nosed with strips of wood or edge banding, so they're easy to make. And because you can remove them, adjustable shelves simplify staining and finishing. The easiest way to support adjustable shelves is by using shelf standards are ($3 for 6 ft. at home centers). Just screw them into place and you're done.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (30)Family Handyman

      Wall Unit Bookshelves: Dress Up Your Bookcase with Trim

      Add curves and other fancy touches to your bookcase the easy way with polyurethane plastic trim. Working with polyurethane trim is much like working with wood—you cut it with standard saw blades, nail it by hand or with a gun and paint it just like wood. Home centers carry a small selection of polyurethane trim. You can find an endless variety of options by going online and searching for "polyurethane trim" (some products are listed as "urethane" rather than "polyurethane").


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (31)Family Handyman

      Stadium-Seating Bookshelf

      Cut a hallow PVC fence post ($8 at home centers) to the length of your bookshelf and push it to the back of the shelf. This creates a second tier for paperback storage, doubling the number of books you can put on display.For more handy hints click here.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (32)Kirsten Hinte/Shutterstock

      Optimize Your Bookshelves

      Bookcases look most balanced when they are filled 75 percent with books and 20 percent with decorative items, leaving 5 percent of empty space.


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      Protect Against Tipovers

      Any bookcase you build should be anchored to the wall so it can't tip over and injure someone. Simply screwing it to wall studs is one good solution. If you choose that method, load up the bookcase with books so it fully compresses the carpet before you drive the screws. If you want to be able to move the bookcase without removing screws, pick up a couple of chain latches. Fasten the chains to studs with 2-1/2-in. coarse-thread screws. Position the tracks so there will be just enough slack in the chains for you to detach them.


      33 Bookcase Projects and Building Tips (34)Family Handyman

      How to Fix a Wobbly Bookcase

      Stabilize a wobbly bookcase on carpet by providing solid floor support, installing adjustable feet or by anchoring it to the wall studs.A freestanding bookcase set on carpeting often wobbles and can even tip over. The problem usually occurs because carpet is held in place by tack strips placed along the perimeter of the room.You have a couple of options to solve this problem.

      1. The first is to pull the carpet free of the tack strip, cut out a strip of padding where the front corners of the bookcase will sit, and replace the padding with a strip of wood that’s the same thickness as the tack strip, usually 1/4 to 3/8 in.
      2. A second option is to install adjustable feet (called gliders: at home centers) on the corners of the bookcase. They’re simple to install—just drill a hole and insert the feet. You won’t have to mess with the carpet, but the feet may be noticeable, which you might not like.

      Learn more about fixing wobbly bookcases here.

      Originally Published: February 10, 2021

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