A book shelf is about the most useful, yet simple thing in the whole world to build. It is essentially a box without a side and a shelf slapped in the middle for literature. If you can cut a right angle (yes, you can), you can build a book shelf.
More importantly, this is a great project to get your kids in on. You know that they have toy creep and need a place to keep things, why not take 'em down to the lumber yard and get some 1x10's and build a book shelf. It will be better quality and better looking than anything that you can get at Ikea and it will be 1/2 the price. Plus, you still get to put it together!!!
Step 1: Get Wood
No, not like that gutter mind, you need to get down to the lumber yard to buy some wood.
Here is what I got for my shelf which ended up being about 29" high and about 40" long:
1 - 1 x 12 x 48 - This is for the top, decorative piece.
5 - 1 x 10 x 48 - This is for the sides, top, bottom and shelf.
1 - 4' x 4' x 3/4 plywood - This is for the back. It is overkill. You can get a 1/2" thick piece and not have a bullet proof book shelf that weighs about 80 pounds. I think that it was on sale or maybe I got it free. I don't recall
4' of 1 x 1's - These are used as support for the shelves
1 - 6' piece of baseboard trim - Baseboard is important. Crown molding looks a bit prettier, but it is a hassle to cut the corners right, plus you have to futz with the way that it is cut at an angle and all that stuff. Stick with something simple.
You probably need some tools. Here is what I used:
1 - Table Router - If you have this, you can find another Instructable now. I assume if you have a table router, you don't need this.
1 - Circular saw - You can use a hand saw, but I prefer the circular for ripping things quickly. If you have a hand saw, you might want to think about Ikea. Another option, if you are really hard up for tools is to draw it out and have the lumber yard make the cuts for you. Mine does it for a dollar a cut. Then you can just assemble
1 - Miter Saw - See my description of a router. You can buy the box and a saw for about $20. Having a miter saw is always something good to have and you can get a decent one for about $150.
1 - Power Drill with screw bit attachment
1 - Counter sink drill bit - This isn't necessary, but it makes the holes pretty clean and provides for good pilots.
Some wood glue
Some fake wood for the spaces where the wood was warped or mis-cut
A square with a bubble level would be nice to have to make sure that your cuts are straight and that your shelves are level.
MacGyver could probably break out of San Quentin with all that stuff. Me, I can build a pretty decent book shelf. And you are off.