DIY Bookcase

I recently built my own bookcase. Not from a kit, not from a box, but from real lumber, screws, and work. The bookcase took only 3 12 hours to complete.

The full photo gallery can be found here.

I’ve divided this article up into several sections, listed below:

The materials bill for this project came in at right around $100. I used pine, a soft wood, for the shelves and sides. The shelves are 4’ long and 1’ wide. The sides are 12’ long and 1’ wide, or so it said at the store (more about that later). Both shelves and sides were 58” thick. There are 6 shelves plus the top of the bookcase. Each shelf was $6.79 and each side was around $12. I also bought a 4’ long, 3” wide piece of red oak for the front of the bottom shelf. That little item added another $5 or so. I had to get red oak because they didn’t have that size in pine. I bought the wood and all other items at Home Depot. It should be noted that I bought all wood in precut sizes. I did not have to saw anything for this project.

I also bought a pack of 48 shelf supports, the kind that come with any other bookcase. The shelf supports are 316”. I bought two small packages of metal screws. The screws are 2” long and have an 8 diameter. The diameter thing is kind of weird - on the side of the package is a little table. You find the “8” in the table and it tells you the size of the screw.

This, essentially, is all that goes into a bookcase.

I used a variety of tools for this project, some of which I did not own at the beginning and which go into the overall materials bills.

The most important part of this project is the measuring.

Drilling the holes for the shelf supports was easily the most tedious task of the project.

After drilling all of the holes for the shelf supports, it was time to frame up the bookcase. The bookcase frame in this case consists of the two sides, a shelf piece for the top, a shelf for the bottom, and the red oak face piece.

This bookcase is too tall and pine too soft to have the frame standing alone with all of the shelves put in randomly.

This is the finished bookcase in all its glory:

In this picture, you can see all of the shelves and even the red oak bit at the bottom.

Lessons learned:

  • Always measure the lumber by hand at the store. Apparently lumber is error prone commodity and is often cut to a slightly incorrect measurement. In this case, the error was acceptable but I almost had to buy two new sides.

  • Be careful drilling holes. I tried to be careful with this project. I went slowly and patiently. However, somewhere after the 150th hole I drilled, I started to get a little tired and complacent, resulting in a stupid mistake. Next time, I will not work on something this tedious for more than an hour straight. Better to take a break and get it right.