Introduction: 60-minute Bookcase

Picture of 60-minute Bookcase

I had a brainfart this morning that transformed a $10 spare scrap of plywood into a really cool 5' tall, designery bookcase that some yuppie idiot would probably pay a few hundred for.

Warning: this procedure involves extensive lame woodworking techniques such as glueing and stapling with nailguns. If you're a dovetail joint purist, you probably don't want to read any further.

Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of Ingredients

Tools you will need:
- a table saw
- a nail gun

Material you will need:
- at least a quarter of a plywood sheet, 96" long x 12" wide x 3/4" thick.
- at least 60 1.25" brads for the nail gun
- wood glue
- sand paper
- pabst blue ribbon, to help you channel your inner bubba.

Note: User earay indicates that MDF might be a better substitute for plywood, as it is cheaper and easier to paint when complete.

Step 2: Cut Boards

Picture of Cut Boards

In this step, we're going to create our 16 6" x 12" boards.

How you create these boards isn't important. Keeping to the exact specified dimensions isn't necessary either. What is important is that all the boards be identical to fairly tight tolerances. One way to get there is the following procedure for cutting these boards out of a quarter of a 4' x 8' plywood sheet.

First, cut a 12" x 96" plank out of your plywood board. Set the rip fence of your table saw at 12" and pass the board through the saw once. You will only use that plank for this project -- use the remaining 3/4 of that board for something else (or else, build 3 more of these bookcases). (Actually, feel free to adjust this width to your taste).

Next, adjust the rip fence of your table saw to a little bit less than 6". Rotate the plank you just created 90 degrees, and subdivide it into sixteen identical 6" x 12" boards. Remember to pass the last board through the table saw, just to ensure that it's exactly the same size as the others.

Also: always use a push stick when moving wood through the table saw! I don't want to hear no complaints from any of you fingerless whiners. "I used to program computers for a living." "I was an artist" Wah wah wah. Use a push stick.

Step 3: Assembly: Layer 1

Picture of Assembly: Layer 1

Pick three boards, and attach them together to form the first layer of the bookcase, as shown in the diagram below.

To attach the boards, first lay down a line of glue. Then, holding the boards in place, fire brads up through the bottom of the bottom board into the edge of the joining board. These brads will staple the joint in place while the glue dries. About 3-5 brads per board should be sufficient.

Note that the vertical boards are stacked on top of the base board -- not alongside it.

Grevious bodily harm warning: it's easy to "miss" when firing the brads up through the bottom board into the edge of the vertical board. Make sure that your fingers aren't anywhere near the place where a brad might unexpected appear. Protect your fingers! You only get ten of them, and then they're all gone forever.

Step 4: Assembly: Layer 2

Picture of Assembly: Layer 2

Now, place two lines of wood glue atop the vertical boards from step 1, and glue another horizontal board on top to make a box. Fire some brads in from the top to pin the board in place while the glue dries.

Once the board is in place, glue two new vertical boards atop the horizontal one. In the previous step, the two vertical boards were placed along the left edge and the back-right edge. This time, place the boards along the right edge and the back-left edge. This should give you clearance to place the nailgun beneath the newly glue boards, and to fire brads up through the horizontal board into the vertical boards, pinning those boards in place.

Step 5: Assembly: Layers 3, 4, and 5.

Picture of Assembly: Layers 3, 4, and 5.

Repeat the previous step for the next three layers, alternating the placement of the vertical boards for each layer. In this manner, an "S" shaped pattern should emerge.

Step 6: Assembly: Put a Lid on It.

Picture of Assembly: Put a Lid on It.

Finally, take your last remaining board, glue it to the top of your structuer, and pin it in place with brads.

Step 7: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Wait for the glue to dry.

Sand the rough edges off the plywood.

Finish the bookcase to taste (stain, seal, paint, etc.).

Some variations:
- turn the bookcase on it's side, and now it's a bookshelf suitable for mounting on your wall!
- build a bunch of these units and stack them together. It's modular!


martonthenagy (author)2016-09-08

I like the super easy construction!

The fist image shows that you have tearout problems with the table saw. Is your blade sharp, and has enought teeth? More teeth needed for finer cut, especially in plywood.

mrsmerwin (author)martonthenagy2017-02-05

I will keep this in mind when I am building this. Thanks

mrsmerwin (author)2017-02-05

I love this. I have been looking for beginner projects that still look nice. Will definitely make this one.

jimvandamme (author)2016-08-18

I suggest two substitutions:

1. Use Gorilla glue, which sets fast, works with wet wood (requires it, actually), fills gaps, paints well, strong.

Instead of PBR, drink water because it tastes the same; or a dark
Flemish abbey ale. I save the PBR for in-laws and baiting slug traps.
(Just came back from Belgium so I'm spoiled.)

Excitebike (author)jimvandamme2016-09-03

I kinda like a PBR once in a while...

RichFarwell (author)jimvandamme2016-08-18

Yeah, Slug traps is about all it's good for. ;-P Though we use "Simple Times."

lucaspogg (author)2016-08-18

Hi, can someone help me converting 96" long x 12" wide x 3/4" thick in cm? =D thanks

Excitebike (author)lucaspogg2016-09-03

Unit converter lite app (free) I use it daily

HariKarier11 (author)lucaspogg2016-08-18

Buy a good tape measure where it shows imperial and metric back to back.

Leviter (author)lucaspogg2016-08-18

Just type in Google: 96" to cm

... it will do the calculation for you. :-)

ZahnC (author)lucaspogg2016-08-18

One inch is equal to 2.54 cm. So the 96 inch long will be 96x2.54=243.84cm

oldhess (author)lucaspogg2016-08-18

google can

JackG54 (author)oldhess2016-08-18

243.84 x 30.48 x 1.905. htyp://
Inches might be easier. You can Google a printable standard (imperial?) ruler and use it to mark your measuring device. Just a thought.

JackG54 (author)JackG542016-08-18 I *hate* typing on my phone!

lucaspogg (author)oldhess2016-08-18

thanks, but I tought wasnt inches but it is =)

kaseycd (author)lucaspogg2016-08-18

If you find yourself in this conversion issue frequently there is an app called "Units Plus" that is great for conversions of length, weight, volume, area, currency, etc.

I got mine free through "Apps Gone Free" (currently $2.99) but there are several similar apps for free in the App Store. Good luck with your project. ?

bunchkin3 (author)lucaspogg2016-08-18

1 inch = 2.54 cm, so doing the math: 96" = 243.84 cm; 12" 30.48 cm; 3/4" = 1.905 cm

lucaspogg (author)bunchkin32016-08-18

Thanks a lot, this will be really usefull =D

bizzycrafter (author)2016-08-29

You are starting with a quarter of a standard 4' x 8' (121.92 cm x 243.84 cm) sheet of plywood (quartered the long way). Divide it into 16 equal pieces. This will work with ANY measurement - start with a piece that is 8 times as long as it is wide, and divide into 16 equal pieces. Of course the finished shelf will be larger or smaller.

pudtiny (author)2016-08-22

Very enteranining read

AikkuL (author)2016-08-22

That's clever idea. Thank you for sharing. :)

Greetings from Helsinki

Dawsie (author)2016-08-19

thanks for great idea :-) love how you made it. I have lots of small scraps around the workshop which I can use, once painted no one will know that they were all different types of wood :-)

tearl62 (author)2016-08-18

If you have a dremel tool a quick trip around the edges with the router bit works wonders on plywood and MDF.

RetBill (author)2016-08-18

Where does the beer come in? Before or after the table saw?

gcai_fwb (author)RetBill2016-08-18

after I hope ! :) One wants to keep all digits attached - better safe than sorry

LilacLisa (author)RetBill2016-08-18

Lol. ;)

violetsmuse (author)2016-08-18

I know this was posted about 10 years ago but so what? I love this and I hope to make it. Super creative!!!!

redbulka made it! (author)2016-01-05

here's mine ?

violetsmuse (author)redbulka2016-08-18

Great job, I love this!

Marthann41 (author)redbulka2016-08-18

WOW!! I really like that.... Nice!!

Mschreib13 (author)redbulka2016-08-18

The original design is great, but your addition of additional support is like have an additional wall for support and they leave the airy open look. Good addition.

redbulka (author)redbulka2016-01-05

sory here's mine

bgunville (author)2016-08-18

Quite Hilarious commentary. Especially the opening lines.

Nicely done.

FYI plywood stack glued makes really interesting lines in carving also.

LilacLisa (author)2016-08-18

Simplicity is my friend! Thank you!

hettye (author)2016-08-18

I like this instuctable because of its simplicity. I read in one of the comments that strength is lost if turned horizontally. Can anyone suggest a way to make it work sideways? Extra supports or even brackets? I would like to make one to put over the sofa. Thanks for any advice.

MichaelB192 (author)hettye2016-08-18

Pre-drill holes and use long screws, or dowel rods and wood glue.

You could also leave one side a full length board if turning it horizontally. This changes the look of the design, but it also adds extra shelving in the open areas, as well as increasing the strength.

Just an idea.. I'm sure there are far better methods I haven't thought of.

doug.fontenot.3 (author)2016-08-18

Brilliant !! Also, simple enough for the unskilled craftsman (like me) to complete.

kbbaktha (author)2016-08-18

Very Inspiring Design and nice simple instructable. This design can easily be upgraded to Fine wood piece by using select 1x6 pine board instead of plywood. Those who have pocket hold jig can use that for all joinery and all pockets can be closed and sanded. If one uses this as a corner shelf, and if pocket holes are done at the backside of all vertical pieces, it would get hidden on the wall side. Thanks for sharing.

OrlandoZ2 (author)2016-08-18

very good job, thanks for the information provided.

muy buen trabajo, gracias por la informacion brindada.

Wild-Bill (author)2016-08-18

A visually striking design. Too many exposed edges for me to use plywood but regular 3/4 wood combined to desired width and it all biscuit joined, I could see myself doing that. Your piece is inspiring.

OldElvis (author)2016-08-18

Love the design. Biscuit joining would add strength without adding time to the assembly. You could even build a jig so you don't have to mark the boards.

ToddT (author)2016-08-18

You forgot to add the veneer edging to cover up the ugly edges. I prefer the iron on type since it is so easy to apply. This is an option since some people like the exposed layer look.

DianneS25 (author)2016-08-18

THIS IS AWESOME! Thank you so much for helping me use up my scrap wood!! This is going to be a gift for my bookaholic daughter!!

rafununu (author)2016-08-18

Have you got any problem with yuppies ? Did one stole your wife ? Appart that, great work, simple and effective.

HEISENBERG_PN made it! (author)2015-03-07

Very good instructurable !
I love the design !


BernardW9 (author)HEISENBERG_PN2016-02-08

Awesome shapes and sizes, real getting real real

pachytrance (author)2015-12-29

Well, I have work to do

Nightengale1 made it! (author)2015-11-15

Made it a little shorter but turned out great, thanks for the great idea!

BartholomewH (author)2015-06-14

I love the checkmate touch you gave it! Beautiful design, I think that IKEA flat pack designers should pay more attention to websites like instructables. I would totally buy this if there was such a flat pack assembly kit. 60-minute bookcase, what more could one want! Great post, cheers

BLR_RAVI (author)2014-07-19

eye catching design..great yet simple ...nicely narrated and done...

About This Instructable




Bio: I used to be a yuppie, but buying a house cured me of my excess money problem. Now I attempt to replicate the designer furniture ... More »
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