How to Build a Wooden Bookcase


Whether you need a place to keep books and family photos or to display collectibles, an easy-to-build wooden bookcase should be a welcome addition to your home. Wooden bookcases may be built out of several different types of wood, ranging from plywood to hardwood. This means that there is a wooden bookcase for every taste and budget out there. Best of all, you do not need to be an experienced carpenter to add this versatile and beautiful weekend project to your home.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Table saw
  • 3/4-inch lumber panels
  • Miter saw
  • T-square
  • Clamp
  • Level
  • Router
  • Wood glue
  • Finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood primer (optional)
  • Paint (optional)
  • Choose where your bookshelf will be located and what dimensions you desire, using the measuring tape. Draw a rough picture of the bookshelf to help envision its size and location.

  • Use the table saw to cut the lumber sheets into the frame. Cut two side panels, the top panel and as many shelves as you'll need for the interior, using the dimensions you selected when planning your shelving unit. Leave extra space on all panels, and use the miter saw to cut the sides with precision. A miter saw will make cleaner cuts than a table saw, allowing for ease of assembly.

  • Place the side panels on a flat surface beside each other with the tops and bottoms flush. Nail a piece of scrap lumber against the top and bottom of the two panels to keep them from moving. Use a long T-square to draw a line across both panels at once, in the location you want a shelf. This method will ensure the grooves you cut out with the router are level on either side. Draw another line 3/4 inches below the first line to make a strip where you will cut a groove. Use this method to draw a 3/4-inch strip across both boards wherever you want a shelf.

  • Use the router to cut out a groove in the 3/4-inch strips you've drawn. Clamp a level flush against the line where the shelf should go. Carefully move the router across it, cutting out a groove against the level.

  • Assemble the unit by using wood glue and nails to affix the top to the two side panels. Place wood glue in each of the grooves for the shelves and slide the shelves into the joints. Hammer finishing nails through the outside of the side panels to keep the shelves in place.

  • Add finishing touches, such as paint. Sand all surfaces and prime with wood primer before painting. For a natural look, just sand the edges of the unit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sixteen inches is an ideal spacing between shelves in the bookcase.
  • A router is a high-velocity tool. Ensure you read all instruction manuals that come with it before operating.

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  • Photo Credit Bookshelf 8 image by Tomasz Nowicki from
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