How to Make Stand Alone Bookcases From Melamine Boards


Bookcases and other types of furniture can be made of melamine paneling, which is particle board coated with a thin hard plastic layer called melamine. Shelving panels or boards can be purchased with the edges finished. A bookcase can be assembled from the cut shelving panels fairly quickly. The real trick is in making them stand alone. This is done by adding a back panel to the bookcase. The back panel will make the structure strong and rigid. Most stores will cut the pieces of lumber to your desired sizes at little or no cost.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill motor
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • No. 10 countersink-drill combination
  • No. 1 3/4 inch flat head wood screws
  • 3/4 inch escutcheon pins (nails)
  • 4- by 8-foot thin panels
  • Arrange two sides and the top and bottom for your bookcase on the floor. You are preparing to drill and countersink the pilot holes. These holes will allow you to screw the top and the bottom of the bookcase to the sides of the bookcase.

  • Drill three pilot holes along the edges of the top and bottom panels using the countersink-drill. These pilot holes will be 3/8 inch from the edge to allow the wood screws to be centered over the side panels. Drill the holes just deep enough so the head of the screws will be flat with the surface of the melamine panels.

  • Fasten the top and the bottom pieces to the side pieces, using the No.10 wood screws and Phillips-head screwdriver. You have now formed the basic frame of the bookshelf.

  • Attach the back, or thin paneling, to the bookcase. Using a small hammer and the escutcheon pins, nail the paneling to the back of the bookcase. This will keep the new bookcase square and rigid, forming the full frame of a stand-alone bookcase.

  • Add shelves as desired. Measure the desired location of each shelf from the top or bottom. Use this measurement to mark the front and the back of both sides. Drill pilot holes on the sides for the new shelf.

  • Fasten the new shelf or shelves using the same technique that you used to assemble the bookcase frame.

Tips & Warnings

  • Have the shelving cut to your desired sizes at your local lumberyard. Their saws are quite good at making square cuts.

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  • Photo Credit Bookshelf 8 image by Tomasz Nowicki from
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