How to Build a Bookcase

How to Build a Bookcase – 8 Simple & Easy Steps

If you find yourself looking at books and publications just sprawling around your home, it may be time for you to have a bookcase. While you can simply buy from a local store, learning how to build a bookcase will help you learn new things and explore your creative side. Whether you are a professional woodworker or a seasonal DIY worker, the process involved in making your bookcase is simple.

For this project, it takes some sturdy plywood and a dependable circular saw. Then, a series of shorter support pieces will be laminated to a longer wooden strip that will allow you to copy the appearance of thicker boards that have been routed to create shelves.

What You Need

  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Scribe tool
  • Mallet
  • Stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Level
  • Utility knife
  • Cordless drill
  • Wood pieces

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1 – Cut the Shelves, Legs, and Supports

You can ask the local lumberyard to rip the plywood into boards depending on the width that is required by the depth of your bookcase. Before cutting and assembling parts, and all wood first. You may also stain or prime it, allowing it to dry first.

Measure the height of the area where you will place the bookcase. Cut two legs with this measurement from the plywood. Then, measure the width of the same area in three places, subtracting 1.5 inches from the measurement. Prepare to cut your shelves with this length.

Step 2 – Connect the Supports to the Legs

The bookshelf comes with a kickplate that covers the area beneath the bottom shelf. This means that the lowest support has to be recessed. Rip them down with a circular saw to a depth of ¾ inch. Next, glue and nail to connect the supports to the legs. Then, beginning at the bottom part of one leg, place an S-shaped glue bead to the first layout line.

Then, align the support piece at the lowest part with the bottom and back edges of the board. Use 3D nails to nail it in the four corners. Continue with the next support until everything is in place.

Step 3 – Box Assembly

To create the strip that connects the bookcase to the wall, cut a 2 ½ -inch (width) plywood piece, cutting it to the length of 1 ½ inches shorter compared with the shelves. Lay two legs on the back edges, with the supports in front of each other. Put the strip in between the support on top, flushing with the top and back edges.

Use a drill that fits a 1/8-inch combination bit, drilling 2 pilot holes to every leg. Drill into both the leg and support and to the strip. Screw it to the legs using 2 ½-inch wooden screws.

Step 4- Level the Bookcase

Fit all shelves to the frame. If certain portions require coaxing, you may want to tap them to place gently using a rubber mallet. Check it for leveling, placing a level on every shelf. If a side has to be raised, you can simply fit thin wooden shins beneath its foot.

Step 5- Plumbing

Hold a level in a vertical position to check for plumbing. If needed, add shims. Once everything is already level and plumb, tap shims surrounding the bookcase, especially in areas where there is a gap. This will ensure that the frame is tight. Score shims using a utility knife, snapping them off with the edge of the bookcase.

You can also use stud finders in locating and marking where the studs fall just below the strip. Drill a screw-shank with a combination bit to create a clearance hole and a counterbore hole in the strip at every mark of the stud. Fasten the bookcase securely to the wall and into the pilot holes using 2 ½-inch screws.

Step 6– Connect the Kick Board

Cut a plywood piece of the same size as the lowest part of the support on the frame. This will serve as a nailer for the kick plate, sliding it beneath the bottom shelf center. Nail it into the shelf to the top edge using 6D finish nails. Measure opening beneath the bottom shelf, cutting a plywood piece to tightly fit on the space. Place this kick plate to the opening, flushing with the front of the bookcase. Connect using two pieces of 6D finish nails at every support and the middle nailer.

Step 7- Scribe Trim to Fit

Finish the top and sides of the bookcase with ½ trim. It can either be flush or hang over the inner edge. Hold the trim on a bookcase leg, attached tightly against the wall. With a level, adjust the trim until plumb, and tacking it using 6D nails.

Look for the biggest gap in between the wall and the trim. Open scrip to remove the gap, running the point along the wall ensuring that the pencil will transfer the contour of the wall to the trim. Remove it afterward, cutting along the line scribed using a jigsaw.

Step 8 – Apply Nosing to the Faces

Create a finished, recessed edge using 1x trim on the front of the shelves. To ensure that they tightly fit between the side trims, hold them against the front of the shelves, butting to aside. Mark each piece at the back, in an area where the other side is met, cutting each strip.

Apply glue to the shelf front, nailing the nosing right in place using 6D finish nails. Nail from one end, adjusting the nosing while moving down the length, to ensure a perfect flush. Set all of the nail heads, filling the holes with either a wax pencil or putty to match the color of the wood. Wax, paint, or apply polyurethane to the bookcase.


Knowing how to build a bookcase will give you a good sense of accomplishment, knowing that you have completed a project on your own, rather than simply buy one from a local store. Once you finish creating a bookcase, you will be more confident in making other similar woodworking projects. Share with us your experience in building a bookcase! Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, and feel free to share this article!





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