Monday, January 10, 2011

DIY Wall Bookshelf

Here are the shelf plans I promised in the post on Serenity's Nursery!
All right, here are the measurements on the shelf!

The overall size is 48 inches wide by 39 inches high. 

The top and bottom boards are one by fours, which means they are actually more like three-quarters of an inch by 3 and one half.  My dad says it’s always very important to measure the boards to see what size they actually are, not what they say they are on the label.  These one by fours hang over the side a bit, because I liked the way that looked!  So they are 48 inches wide.  Then my dad cut a dado out of the back, which is a little notch a quarter of an inch square, so that the back nests inside these boards.  We would have done this for the sides as well, except I picked a fancy trim board with a wavy edge and a vine pattern that I didn’t want to cut into. 
Here you can see the Dado and the vine design on the trim board I chose, which I got at Lowes.

The back board is cut to 44 ½ wide by 37 ½ tall.  My fancy boards that I used for the sides are ½ and inch deep, which makes 45 ½ the size of the main part of the shelf, and gave me about 1 ¼ inch overhang on either side from the top boards. 

The interior shelves are placed so that the distance between the shelves is 11 and ¼ inch for the top two, and 13 ¼ inch for the bottom one.  I find the 13 ¼ inch shelf the most useful, because those really big books just fit better faced out than in my other bookshelf.  If I built another, I might make it larger and have two shelves at the 13 ¼ size and only one at the 11 ¼ size.  Definitely no smaller, otherwise it’s a pain to get the books in and out! 

The interior shelves are 1 by 4s, cut to 2 ½ inches deep so that they are just slightly narrower than my two trim boards that make the sides.  2 and ½ deep by 44 ½ wide. 

Then we made little side pieces to hold the dowel rods in place.  I used ½ inch dowel rods  These pieces are one by fours cut to 4 ½ inches tall for the smaller shelves, and 6 inches tall for the larger shelf.  They are 2 ½ inches deep, and I routed the top outside corner a bit.  We cut two holes near the outside edge, about two inches apart and near the top of the little boards as pictured. 

I gave the dowel rods a coat of paint, skipping the part that would go inside the little wood pieces.  We used wood glue to secure them in to the side pieces, and then I finished painting them so that all we’d have to do after the shelf was together would be touch up.

We also gave the back a coat of paint, skipping where the shelf would go so the wood glue we used would stick well.  It was a lot easier to just have to do touch up after the shelf was assembled, with the dowel rods in the way! 

We used finish nails in a nail gun to assemble the pieces, and of course wood glue.  After we filled the tiny holes with wood filler and painted, and now I can’t even see any nail holes at all!

To hang the shelf, we used screws right into the wall studs.  I used brass so they didn’t show up much at all against the yellow paint, and I never notice them once the books are in place.  We wanted to be sure it was very sturdy, since the weight of the books and wood is significant!!!  This part is definitely at least a two person job!  

I hope this helps, and I would love to see pictures if anyone uses this tutorial!


  1. This is really cute. thanks for sharing!

  2. Awesome! I am going to have to make a couple of these for my kids!

  3. Brilliant. This has always been one of my favorite looks for a rocked it!