Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bookshelf Project

Natalie's room badly needs a bookshelf. Like most kids, she is over run with books of all kinds. We have large, hardcover Dr. Seuss and Robert Munch, and small chapter books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The options that are available to purchase didn't stir me. I wanted something made from natural Canadian wood, by a craftsman, not a piece a box store manufactured in China. I also am a terrible shopper unless it is online. I have a dislike of being in stores with crowds, so browsing retail outlets is something to be avoided. Instead, with no real plan, I purchases a bunch of knotty pine boards from Home Depot, some screws and inspiration to create something out of wood. Working with wood is something that makes me excited, wanting to learn more and practice with it. So here is the material list, pictures and instructions on how it all came together

I began, as explained above with no plan. There was a idea brewing, but it took messing around with some wood. It took three trips to the Depot to gather exactly what was needed. 

I ended up with :
4@4 foot 1x4 knotty pine
17@2 foot 1x4 knotty pine
12@1 foot 1x4 knotty pine

I purchased a variety of 8' and 4' lengths and cut them with my compound miter saw to length.

As well I used about 100 #8x1 1/4 wood screws and approximately 50 #6x1 1/2.
For tools the list included a tape measure, ruler, level, drill, combination square, 2 quick grip clamps, #6 and #8 countersink bits, green Robertson screwdriver, and a compound miter saw.

The base assembled with the first shelf already fastened. Long boards are 24", short one's are 12"

Base from above

The uprights pre-drilled with a counter-sink bit

The uprights screwed on the base. Each upright is 4' long

The bottom of the uprights.

Uprights with the shelf supports attached


A shelf board pre-drilled with a #6 counter-sink bit

Finished product

Begin with assembling the base, check for square, and add the shelve boards. I pre-drilled every hole with a countersink bit. It makes a nicer hole and less splintering at the hole site. It makes for a cleaner build. Add the uprights, checking for plumb. Clamp them and double check plumb with your level, then screw into base. Use #8x 1 1/4 screws for this. Mark out where you want the shelves on the uprights and pre-drill where the shelve supports will be. Pre-drill from the outside. I planned this stage out before the uprights were fastened. It is easier to mark out the holes while laying on the table. Clamp the supports to the uprights, check for level and secure with #8x 1 1/4 screws. Plan out holes in shelf boards and pre-drill with #6 counter sink bit. There is only about 3/8ths of an inch to center the holes on the shelf boards from the edge. The shelf boards are a little awkward to fasten, at least for me, so I used a screw driver to twist the #6x 1 1/2 screws into the support. Finish the top as you wish. I used two of the 12" pieces on the sides at the top to stop things from falling off. 

The shelves can be any height that one desires. I made mine so that the shelves are symmetrically spaced on the uprights. One detail that I didn't figure out until it was too late was the base was longer than planned. Using a 12" piece between two 24" pieces on the base makes it two material thicknesses bigger. Next time that wouldn't happen, and if the construction took place in a work shop instead of the kitchen table, I would have mitered the corners on the base too. 

I am not sure how it will work with her books. There should not be a problem with it being usable for what it is needed for. This was a fun project, didn't cost more that $100 and allowed me to use some creativity. Anyone can build things, just try and enjoy it! If you need more information, please leave a comment at the bottom.


  1. Nice work! Much better than imported.

  2. Before you load it up you should finish the baseboard trim. Haha. Nice job.