How to Make Bookshelves

How to Make Bookshelves

 If you keep running into books around the house where you least expect them, it might be time to invest in a bookshelf. However, why would you buy a bookshelf when you can make one yourself? In addition to their practical function, bookshelves can also tie an entire room together. Best of all, building a bookshelf is easy, and I'll guide you through all of the steps you'll need to take to make your very own book-wrangling masterpiece.


 Prepare Your Space

 Whether you want your bookshelf to reside in your dining room, living room, or bedroom, you'll need to set up your intended space before you even think about building a single shelf. To begin, decide on a spot and clear it of any other furniture or objects. Then, measure the space that you have to work with. You don't need to use all of the available space, but taking accurate measurements gives you a better idea of how big or small you want to build.

 The amount of space you set aside for your bookshelf will determine how many shelves it can contain. Most bookshelves contain between three and five shelves, but you could squeeze in even more if you feel like it. Just remember to leave enough space for each size of book in your collection. While you're at it, decide whether you want your bookshelf to have an open or closed back; your decision will impact your measurements.

How to Make Bookshelves


Pick Your Materials

 The next step is picking out the type of wood that you want to use to make your bookshelf. Hardwood is the most durable and beautiful material that you can use, but it can get expensive fast. On the other hand, you could ostensibly make your entire bookshelf from medium-density fiberboard, but it might collapse in less than a year if you rely too heavily on this super-cheap substance.

 Most amateur bookshelf builders end up landing on plywood with hardwood veneers as a good middle ground. A veneer is a thin sheet of wood glued to a thicker plank, and plywood is relatively durable without being expensive. Some examples of popular veneers to choose from include:


  • Birch


  • Maple


  • Cherry


  • Mahogany


  • Teak


 Cut Your Pieces

 The time has come to cut the components of your shelf. Since it's so important that the various parts of your bookcase fit fluidly together, you'll definitely want to observe the time-honored adage of "measure twice, cut once" as you proceed with this phase of the bookshelf-building process. You should cut the sides of your bookshelf first, and these pieces can be anywhere between 12 and 16 inches wide.

 Next, cut your shelves. Make sure that these pieces are the same width as the future sides of your bookshelf, and also factor in the fact that your saw will take 1/8" of wood with it. Since two shelves will serve as the top and bottom of your bookshelf, these pieces will need to be slightly wider than the others. For a seamless look, cut rabbet joints into the short edges of the top shelf. You'll also need to use a pegboard to drill holes into your side pieces for adjustable shelving.


 Assemble Your Bookshelf

 Now it's time to give your bookshelf form with a few different types of hardware. Apply glue to the rabbet joints on the top shelf, and slide in the sides. Then, insert pocket screws to secure the sides in place. To attach the bottom shelf, apply wood glue to its edges, slide it into place, and insert 2" wood screws through the side pieces. Do the same for the center shelf.

 If you're making a bookshelf with backing, lay your shelf carefully on its face and attach the backing with 1" brads. Once this step is complete, you'll have a functioning bookshelf.

How to Make Bookshelves


 Finish It Up

 However, there are a few final steps you'll need to complete if you want to have a professional-quality bookcase. First, attach trim and edging to your bookshelf with glue and sixpenny nails. Install any extra shelves by inserting pegs into the sides of your bookshelf and resting the shelves on top, and use a router to smooth any sharp edges on the shelves, tops, or sides of your bookshelf.

 At this point, you might view your bookshelf as a completed masterpiece, or you might want to sand it as well. If you want to make a bookshelf that's truly your own, paint it in any color you like after you've finished sanding.

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