Wood bookcases are pieces of furniture that are found in nearly every home or office around the world. They seem to be essential to living comfortably. We all have collections of books or movies or CDs or pictures that need somewhere to rest when they are not being used. And there are all of those things that we want to show off, like framed pictures and trophies from years past.
These need a place to sit as well. Yet, there isn’t enough wall space usually for all of those things nor do we always want them to be visible in their entirety. So we need bookcases, usually several of them. Sometimes a wall or two of them. Why not make one or a few for yourself and your space? The time and effort put into it will be worth it to be able to house your valuables in something you made with your own hands.
What Will I Need?
Wood bookcases or bookshelves are really fairly simple and easy to construct. They do not take much more than a day to two to complete either, making them the perfect weekend project. Each bookcase design comes with its own dimensions and tools needed. However, when it comes to the tools, most are pretty basic and easily found.
Firstly, you will need the material to construct the wood bookcases. Check your design or plans well to make sure that you acquire the right length, width, and depth of each piece needed. Most plans come with exact dimensions of the materials needed. This includes nails and screws. Differing lengths may be needed for more support in some areas and less in others depending on the depth of the wood being used.
Plan Exact Tools
These plans will also tell you exactly what tools or other supplies you will need as well. However, there are some tools that a given for just about any size or style of the bookcase you put together. Things like a hammer if you are using nails. A screwdriver or, more preferably, a drill if you are using screws is needed. A pencil for writing down measurements or marking them on the wood.
A measuring tape, speed square, or ruler for making measurements exact. And of course, we can not forget about safety equipment. It is important to wear things like safety glasses and ear protection, possibly gloves as well to keep you safe from any injuries that can easily occur when handling and operating power tools and sharp objects.
Depending on the style of the bookcase you may need some more specialized tools or hardware as well. For instance, if your design has drawers or cabinets, you will probably need handles or knobs of some sort. Some bookcases incorporate glass or wrought iron decorative items as well. Others still may have small specialty feet or legs. It all just depends on the type and style you are making.
Easy DIY Shelves
Many wood bookcases or shelves come in kits that are prepackaged with everything needed to construct it and make it look as planned. These kits usually include all the nails or screws, all wood materials, and all hardware or other accessories needed. They will not, however, include the tools. The wood materials will be cut to exact measurements and will not usually need to be sanded or stained or cut down any farther.
However, if you have found some plans somewhere and have not bought a kit with the actual materials needed, you may have a little more work ahead of you. In this case, you will have to buy or make all the materials separately. You will need to buy the wood in the dimensions provided on your plan or design, but they may need to be cut down to size in order for them to fit together in the right way.
Tools like a table saw or circular saw come in handy here. Most likely these pieces will not be finished at all. This means that after the construction of the bookcase is complete, you will need to sand it at the very least. Depending on the design or style you are going for, you may also want to paint or stain it accordingly.
Make sure that you have all of your pieces and tools ready and on hand, including someone to help you out with an extra set of hands, when the time comes to putting it together.
Instructions, Tips, & More
For just about any bookcase you put together, whether you have bought a kit or made the wood to fit your needed dimensions, they fit together fairly similarly. Usually, there is a series of “sub-assemblies” needed. For instance, you may need to attach trim and legs to your side panels. You may also have to add trim to the top and bottom pieces.
The legs may be attached to the bottom piece instead and need to be attached beforehand. Notches or hooks of some sort may need to be attached to the sides and the back to hold the inner shelves. The back may need to be constructed from several smaller pieces to create a certain design. Or there could be glass that needs to be put into cabinet doors or drawers to construct.
This process could be very intricate and tedious or take you all of a few minutes depending on your choice of a bookcase. This will also depend on if you are building this on your own or from a kit. Whatever the case and no matter how many pieces you need to add together for these smaller parts of the bookcase, it is always much easier to have all of these completed and ready to set aside before you attach sides to the back and top and bottom and so on.
How To Start
In any case, it is usually recommended that you start with the sides. This may be fairly simple just to get them out and set them up in a way that will be best to move on. This is also where an extra set of hands may come in handy as it may be difficult to hold the two sides in place while doing the next tasks. If you already have put these together correctly beforehand, then you are ready to move on.
However, if you haven’t or your plans do not recommend this process, there may be extra steps here, like adding trim to the sides or legs as well. Next usually comes the top supports. This may be in the form of a top shelf. Or it could be a couple of braces for the top to sit on. In any case, this will connect the two side pieces. Or depending on the size of your bookcase, it may connect the sides to a middle piece. If your wood bookcases have several columns, this could be a much longer process with a few other steps involved.
Decorative Pieces Bottom Shelf
The bottom supports are added next. This usually comes in the form of a bottom shelf. However, there may be legs included or front panel that covers the bottom part of the shelf. Next generally comes the rest of the shelves, depending on how many there are. They sometimes are simply slid into place and sit perfectly into grooves on little nubs that are affixed to the side panels. Sometimes they are nailed or screwed into place.
It is important to measure the distances of these shelves from one another to provide ample space for your desired items. This will also ensure that the wood bookcases are well supported and look even throughout. The next step is usually to attach either the top or the back of the bookcase. Some of your plans may not include one or both of these components. Depending on the design of your piece it may be required to add the back before the top or vice versa.
After this step comes all the extra decorative pieces that were not included in the sub-assembled parts. You may need to put together a drawer and the hardware required. You may attach cabinet doors or specialty veneers. This is also where you would paint or add stain to your bookcase for a finished look.
12 Incredible Wood Bookcases Designs
With the thousands of different designs to choose from, these are some of the most popular wood bookcase ones available. While we have listed the manufacturer or plan designer here, there are many similar designs and plans available online that are sure to please.
This Old House Built-In Bookcase
Start Woodworking Portable Book Rack
Crate & Barrel Elevate Walnut Bookcase