Arch Reactor, the local Hackerspace in St. Louis, Missouri needed a better bookshelf than the one we were using.  It needed to be sturdy enough to hold books and large enough to hold all of our books, magazines, and games.  

(This bookshelf is very sturdy and isn't going anywhere soon, so Please vote for this project in the Indestructables Contest in the upper right corner of the web page where it says, "Vote!") 

I had located four dining room table leaves that were being given away through Craigslist for free (only the leaves without the tables).  I did have to remove the end edges of the table leaves, as they weren't needed for this project. After deciding that I wanted to use the leaves as the shelves for the bookshelf, I set out looking for a way to accomplish that task.  

During my research, a sturdy metal server rack became available at our hackerspace.  It had previously held security monitors, printers, a computer, and a sound system.  Those items had been relocated, freeing up the old server rack for a new purpose.  I decided it would make an excellent base for holding up the table leaves as shelves, with the addition of some scrap 2x4's and plywood (We keep a stash of scrap lumber in our workshop).  We eventually realized that the original metal shelves from the server rack could be attached to the sides as additional storage.  They would also serve as bookends to the shelves, as it was decided they should be mounted offset to the wooden shelves.

If you can find an old server rack that is being thrown out, recycled, or for sale on the cheap, then you can build a bookshelf similar to this one.  Since table leaves might be hard to find, but you could easily replace those with scrap lumber, 3/4" plywood, MDF, 2x4's, or even 1/2" slats.  However, some additional reinforcement may be necessary if your replacement is not strong enough to hold books across the span of the shelf.

This instructable was an afterthought to the whole process, so I apologize for not having photos of every step.

Step 1: Parts & Tools Review


Old metal server rack.  The one we used was made by Hoffman Enclosures Inc. 
Scrap lumber for use as shelves:  Plywood, table leaves, MDF, 1/2" or 3/4" wood slats. Cut to the size you want your shelves to be.
Scrap lumber for use as shelf supports: 2x4's worked great for ours, but any wood slat large enough to hold a bolt will work.
Optional: Old metal server rack shelves.

#8 size wood screws (#6 size may work if you already have them). Quantity of 28+
"L" brackets quantity of 16 (four for each of the four middle shelves)
The "L" brackets I used called for #6 size wood screws.  I had #8 size, so I used them.
1/4 inch bolts, 1/4 inch nuts, and 1/4 inch washers. Quantity of 16 of each.
A quantity of eight additional washers that your screws won't slip through. (These are for attaching the top and bottom shelves). 


Hand held power drill and drill bits.
Circular hand saw or table saw.
Work bench or work area.
Drill press (optional, use the hand held power drill)
Screwdrivers: standard and Phillips head.
Socket wrench set (to tighten the bolts)
4 to 6 large clamps
Please vote for this project in the Indestructables Contest in the upper right corner of the web page where it says, "Vote!"
Got my vote. It turned out real nice.
I set out looking for a way to accomplish that task. <a href="http://www.hqew.net/product-data/2N3906" rel="nofollow" title="2N3906">2N3906</a> <br>
Great reuse of server rack. Lucky you didn't have to pay for it. The basic rack generally sells for around $800. Not something you want to purchase for a bookshelf. Stupid thing is they get thrown away all the time. It vendors will always sell new ones as part of a server sale. Prices are usually buried in the total.
True. The first person to comment on my instructable on social media works in IT and said that his company had thrown out several last year. My previous employer had two really nice ones, complete with doors, locks, and keys. I couldn't save them in time, either. At least they went to a recycling location. The one used for the bookshelf had been donated to the Arch Reactor Hackerspace a little over two years ago. I've occasionally seen them posted for free or for a very low cost on Craigslist and Free-Cycle.

About This Instructable


124 favorites


Bio: I tinker and make geeky things.
More by GeekTinker: Fix a Broken Key with Instamorph Unstick a wooden door with a Dremel Multi-Max Sugru Eyeglass Nose Pieces
Add instructable to: