Heavy loads of books placed on wooden shelves

How to Build Your Bookshelf From Scratch

A bookshelf is a useful piece of furniture that can save space in your house. It primarily holds books, magazines, and other printed materials, although some people use them for plants and decor. If you’re on a budget or up for a challenge, you might be wondering how to build your own bookshelf. DIY projects have become increasingly popular, especially because they allow you to control the design process.

Bookshelves aren’t just made of one material. There are bookshelves made of birch plywood, while others are made of plastic or metal. Aside from housing books, a bookshelf can also serve as storage for an endless variety of other things. In this article, you’ll learn how to build your own bookshelf from scratch without having to attend carpentry training.

Why You Should Build Your Own Bookshelf

There are many benefits to building your own bookshelf. Firstly, it gives you complete control over the design, size, and functions of the custom bookshelf. You can create a built-in bookshelf that covers an entire wall, include an entire shelf decorated to display books, or you could even make a coffee table bookshelf with cube storage. The possibilities are endless.

Get offers and scholarships from top coding schools illustration

Find Your Bootcamp Match

  • Career Karma matches you with top tech bootcamps
  • Access exclusive scholarships and prep courses

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, and you consent to receive offers and opportunities from Career Karma by telephone, text message, and email.

Secondly, you can save a lot of money by building your own bookshelf project. Other than power tools, you’ll need wall studs, base molding, hot glue, wood, and nails, all of which are very affordable. Rather than paying for an overpriced store-bought bookshelf or hiring a carpenter, you can create your own for a fraction of the price.

Lastly, building your own bookshelf is a fun project that you can pursue either alone or with a loved one. It can act as a way for you to bond, collaborate, or just spend time together coming up with bookshelf ideas. Do you like the classic look of oak shelving units, or do you want to get creative with copper piping? You’ll also learn basic carpentry skills and get more familiar with new tools.

How Hard Is It to Build Your Own Bookshelf?

Building your own bookshelf isn’t hard, especially if you watch video tutorials. It can be challenging if you don’t have expensive power tools or materials, but overall it’s not difficult if you keep your design simple. There are also lots of websites with basic building techniques and social media accounts that function as inspiration for people who enjoy DIY projects.

How Long Does It Take to Build a Bookshelf?

This depends on several factors, such as the height of the bookshelf, the style you’re going for, and the number of individual shelves you want to put. Some bookshelves take 35 to 40 hours to be built, while others might take only a few hours. You may want to follow basic building techniques and keep your design simple if you are a beginner.

How Much Does It Cost to Build Your Own Bookshelf?

The estimated cost of building your own bookshelf is $275. You’ll be using this money for materials like wood glue, a hammer, nails, a nail gun, a cordless drill, a plywood edge, and other materials. Although there are many materials to buy, they’ll cost far less than a store-bought bookshelf.

How Much Cheaper Is It to Build Your Own Bookshelf?

The average cost of hiring a carpenter is often over $1,000. Doing it on your own can save you hundreds of dollars. The cost of buying a bookshelf depends on the size, material, and style of bookshelf you’re purchasing.

What Do You Need to Build Your Own Bookshelf?

There are certain materials and tools you need to build your bookshelf. Aside from deciding where you’ll put the bookshelf once it’s done, you also need to list the materials beforehand to make your work easier. If your goal is to build a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, then you’ll need wood pieces that are the appropriate size. Regardless of the height, the materials listed below will be necessary for your project.

  • Plywood: Plywood is a material from hardwood veneer layers affixed together. A plywood sheet can be glued to another to create the bookshelf frames. A piece of plywood can also be used for bottom supports so you can freely place your favorite books.
  • Finish Nails: Finish nails fit in holes and are used for holding thick pieces of solid wood. It’s usually for combining several pieces of plywood. Nails will be an indispensable tool as you assemble your project.
  • Crown Molding: Crown molding is a decorative molding placed on top of an interior wall or cabinets to make it more stylish. You can put this on top of your wooden shelves or use a trim on your shelving to make your house look posh.
  • Hammer: A hammer is a fundamental and essential tool used for delivering an impact to a small area. This is often used for finish nails or normal nails. Both are necessary for holding your shelving together so they can carry a heavy load of books.
  • Paint: Once you’ve finished building your bookshelf, you might want to paint it. While unpainted wood could make a natural finish, you might want to color it to better match your furniture. Some people prefer brown finishes on bookshelves, but you can also use gold spray paint or any color you choose.

Building Your Bookshelf From Scratch: A Step-by-Step Guide

A built-in bookcase that has books, a camera, and other items placed on it
Whether you’re building a classic craftsman-style bookcase or a cozy reading nook, this guide will walk you through the process of constructing classic pieces of wooden furniture.

If this is your first time building a bookshelf, you’ll need a guide to do it correctly. Of course, it’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes, so don’t worry if everything doesn’t go according to plan. Building shelving that can hold the weight of an average book can be tricky. Below is a step-by-step process that will guide you through building your own bookshelf.

Construct a Bookshelf Plan

You must envision what you want your bookshelf to look like. Do you want it to have adjustable shelves? How many shelves do you want it to have? What color do you want it to be? A bookshelf plan should contain your custom design, measurements, necessary materials, and timeframe. You must begin with a plan to ensure all aspects of the building process go smoothly.

List and Purchase Your Materials

As you’ve already come up with the design you want, it’s time to list and purchase the materials you’ll need. Will you be using pine boards, oak boards, solid boards, or backer boards? Will you be using birch-veneer plywood or a fir plywood flat?

Whatever you prefer, write how many pieces you need so that you stay on track. In addition, identify the color scheme of your bookshelf so that if you need to buy paint, you can do so. Bookshelf projects don’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be right for you.

Start Building

After purchasing the materials you need, you’re ready to start building. You can watch video tutorials on YouTube to assist you in the process. There are also lots of blogs, books, and websites that offer information for custom bookshelves.

You might need to measure and cut your wood to size and create clean holes to attach the boards together. Make sure to measure carefully. If your boards are even an inch off, your shelving won’t fit together properly.

Assemble the Parts

Once your measurements are accurate, it’s time to put together the legs, shelves, and frame together. You can add cove molding, base molding, built-in bookshelves, storage space, and any other features you desire.

You can also create the nail holes with a hammer or rubber mallet before assembling all of the pieces. A few drops of wood glue can help make your project sturdier. Just make sure the glue sets before placing any books on the shelving.

Design the Bookshelf

Once you have your freestanding bookshelf carcass, you can apply a fresh coat of paint if you want to paint it. If you prefer an unpainted bookshelf, you can leave it as it is. Before you can start arranging your book collection, you will need to use an orbital sander or sandpaper on the angles and edges to avoid splinters.

How to Monetize Your Bookshelf

If you find that you enjoy creating custom bookshelves, you can always sell your creations or accept commissions. You can make money on websites like Etsy by selling your creative bookshelves. You can do a little research and see how you can make your designs and standards different from other sellers and fill a hole in the market.

According to Statista, Etsy sellers have access to 81.9 million active buyers worldwide, so you have a good chance of finding other booklovers who will be interested in your bookshelves. If you find you enjoy carpentry, you can use it as a side career. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary of a carpenter is $43,023.

Gather Feedback, Reflect, and Iterate

If you need a bookshelf or you have a contemporary space or blank wall that you want to decorate, you can build your own beautiful bookcase to fill in the space. Building one might be hard at first, but the step-by-step guide above will help you get started. Keep in mind, there are plenty of online resources that can assist you in your building process. Once you’re finished with this exciting project, consider building your own desk or building your own keyboard as your next challenge.

How to Build Your Own Bookshelf FAQ

How do you build a bookcase as a beginner?

As a beginner, you can build a bookshelf by just assembling plywood pieces with a drill bit and some screws. Your building technique does not have to be perfect, as you can always start a new project after you have practiced your skills. As a beginner, your bookshelf doesn’t need to be complicated.

How do you build a bookcase without power?

You can use a hammer and finish nails in place of power tools. It might be difficult to smoothly cut the plywood pieces by hand, but you can always have them precut at a hardware store.

How do you attach shelves to a bookcase?

You can use wood glue, nails, or screws to attach shelves in a bookcase. The best method for you will be determined by the size and materials of your bookshelf.

How do you build a small bookshelf?

You just have to list the materials you need and determine what type of shelf you want. For example, will it be made from a backer board, pine boards, birch-veneer plywood, or fir plywood flat? You also need wood glue, a hammer or nail gun, and nails.

Get matched match you to training programs with Flexible Options, Income Sharing


Start a new job in 12 months

By continuing you indicate that you have read and agree to Job Training Hub Privacy Policy.

Powered By
Career Karma



You don't have permission to register