How to Build Wooden Shelving Units


Shelves in the house are similar to closets: there never seems to be enough of them. If you are going to have wooden shelf units in your house to store your books and whatnots, it is better if they look good while they do it. Building shelf units rates on the easier side of woodworking projects because you can buy the wood already cut to width and length. If you already know the size of the shelf unit you desire, and want a ¼-inch plywood back on it, your local retail lumber supply may be able to cut that piece to your custom size.

Things You'll Need

  • 5 pieces of lumber 1 by 4 by 24 inches
  • 2 pieces of lumber 1 by 4 by 27¾ inches
  • 1 piece of plywood 25½ by 27¾ by ¼ inches
  • Measuring tape
  • Carpenter's square
  • Drill
  • 1/16th-inch drill bit
  • Hammer
  • Glue
  • 3d finish nails
  • ½-inch tacks
  • Nail set
  • Place the two 27¾-inch pieces of lumber on a table side by side. Measure up from one end ¾ inch and make a mark. From that mark, measure up 6 inches and make another mark. From that mark, measure ¾ inch and make a mark. Repeat this pattern until you have clearly marked three shelves with 6 inches separating each one.

  • Place the carpenter's square on each of the marks and draw a line across both pieces of lumber. This will result in marking where each of the five 24-inch pieces of lumber will attach.

  • Drill two pilot holes inside each of the ¾-inch spaces where the shelves will attach. Do not apply too much pressure to the drill as this can cause the wood to splinter.

  • Apply glue to one of the edges of one of the 24-inch pieces of lumber and place it on one end of the lumber from Step 1. Secure the shelf with the 3d finish nails. Repeat this process until all five shelves are attached to the two 27¾-inch pieces of lumber.

  • Apply glue to the edges of the back of the shelf unit. Place the 25½-by-27¾-by-¼-inch piece of plywood on the shelf unit and secure it with the ½-inch tacks. Clean up excess glue immediately with a damp cloth.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean up access glue immediately. Countersink all the nail heads with the nail set. Fill the nail holes with wood putty or painter's caulk before applying a finish.
  • Do not try to countersink the nails with the hammer, as this will leave hammer marks on the lumber. Do not try to remove splinters without wearing gloves. Do not apply finish in an unventilated area.

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