Stylish and Easy to Make Bookshelf





Introduction: Stylish and Easy to Make Bookshelf

About: I'm a lot of a philosopher, a good deal of a musician, a fair bit of a geek, a bit hippie, and in my free time I like to build stuff. I like to think that I have enough good taste and imagination to come up ...

I'm quite happy with that fact that the first piece of furniture I built is a bookshelf. I wanted to make something large enough to keep all my books, and stylish at the same time. I like somewhat futuristic and organic designs with plenty curved lines, and you can see that in this shelf. Generally the aim was to make it look as if it was a part of the wall, or came out of the wall.

It's really a relatively easy project, not much work is needed, although some precision will be useful. The size of the bookshelf can vary, in my case it is 2m wide and, well, room-high (2.70m). With 8 shelves this gives me 16m of book-space. It won't be a problem to make it wider or narrower though, or changing the height. Also the shape can be changed relatively easily - you don't have to have the curved lines, just use your imagination.

- Wood
    - 3 boards 2700x120x18
    - 2 or more MDF boards 2700x1400x18
- 3 long screws with studs
- Paint and varnish

- Jigsaw
- Drill

The single downside of this design is that you won't be able to move the shelf elsewhere easily - it will be screwed to the wall. Though it's only three screws that hold it, so moving it is not impossible and will not involve demolishing your walls too much.

Step 1: Preparing the Vertical Boards 1

First, cut out the shape of the boards - both the vertical and horizontal. The three vertical boards should be all exactly the same, but the actual shelves can vary. I made the bottom shelves a a bit wider to hold my oversize books and albums, and the top narrower for smaller books and paperbacks. If you want to do that, simply cut the same lenght and play with the width. On my bookshelf the sizes vary from 35cm at the bottom-most shelf to 22 for the top-most. Depending on what sizes you settle for (and how many shelves you plan to have), you might need to buy extra MDF boards. Also, I made the mistake of using chipboards rather than buying proper plywood or MDFs - although this meant I saved some money, it compromised the looks a bit - especially the edges are, well, chipped. So I would recommend using more expensive but better looking boards.

The whole trick is in cutting nice curves - the image shows how mine are done. The horizontal boards are generally straight - only the endings (40cm from the edge) are curved.

Step 2: Cutting Out

Now you need to prepare the gaps on both the vertical and horizontal boards - this is how they will join. That's the most complicated part of the whole thing and requires some precision.

The three gaps on the back of the horizontal boards are cut in the middle and 20cm from each side of the board. The gaps on the vertical ones are cut to match your needs - since they will determine how much space you'l have on the shelf, just adjust them to the kind of books you have. In my case with all the albums I have the distance between the first two gaps is 33cm, then 30cm and the following are all 26cm. Before you cut anything, mark exactly the place where you want the gaps and make sure the distances between gaps are identical on all vertical boards - if they won't be, the shelves will be uneven.

All cuts should be 18mm wide, so that the boards just fit in them. If your hand slips, don't worry, you can use wedges to make up for it, but it looks much better without them.

As to the depth of the cuts - now that's the whole trick. Because the vertical boards are curved, you cannot make the cuts of the same depth everywhere. I suggest always cutting up to half the width of the board on every 'level' - e.g. where the board is widest - 12cm - cut 6cm, where it's narrower, like 6cm, cut 3cm. Again, make sure all gaps on all vertical boards are identical.
The horizontal boards' gaps have to match them now. Make sure you know which shelf comes where (numbering them is a good idea) and cut accordingly, e.g. if you cut 6cm of the vertical board on level 3 and have 6cm left, cut 6cm from the third horizontal board.

Step 3: Assembling

Now you can assemble the whole thing to check if it matches. If you're sure you've done everything right, you don't have to - you'll need to take it all apart again anyway to paint it.
Painting is easier on separate parts because you don't have to use the ladder to get to the top, and because it will then be easier to disassemble the whole - parts won't be glued with paint. 

Step 4: Attaching to the Wall

Once everything is painted and varnished, assemble the whole without the topmost shelf against the wall where you want it to stand (you might need help with that). Add wedges in some places if you need them.
Now drill holes for screws in the gaps prepared for the top shelf, mark the places on the wall where the screws will go out and drill holes for the studs. This way the screws won't be visible from the outside and everybody will have the impression that the shelf just isn't attached to anything. If you're afraid that there is not enough wood left in the topmost gap to allow for a hole to be drilled in it, drill just above the gap - this way the hole will be almost invisible behind the shelf when looking from below anyway.

Step 5: And Ready!

Now fit in the last shelf and that's it!

Just fill it with your books and enjoy.



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    Please be positive and constructive.




    I have padded carpet and I was thinking of putting the book case above the floor board (molding). Free floating in the aspect it does not touch the floor. Would I secure backer boards vertically to the studs on the wall then screw the book case to the backer boards?

    1 reply

    I saw some versions of this design which are just hanging with no support at the bottom, so it's definitely doable. It should be enough if you attach the vertical boards to the wall a few more times, with decent long screws. The horizontal boards will hold in place as described, no extra screws needed there.

    Fajnie i solidnie wygladajaca poleczka, a i ksiegozbior interesujacy :-)


    (ogonki pominalem specjalnie - tak na wszelki wypadek)

    When putting the screws into the wall, through the vertical "beams"- doesn't the wood want to split?

    1 reply

    You just have to drill holes through them first. Can even be slightly wider than the screw (not the head, though, of course) - doesn't matter, as long as the screw sits safely in the wall.

    Ok cool bookshelf. I am very jealous, because I don't have a table saw to cut such wonderful curves. :(

    1 reply

    It's actually all done with a jigsaw. The only thing done with a circular saw is cutting the main boards into shelves, but I got that done in the store. 

    You solved my problem, I need a bookshelf but need rounded corners. This is perfect and so easy. t'hanks

    This looks like it would make a great DVD Shelf. I've been looking for a cheap and simple design to utilize on a full wall to cover about 800 DVD's. Just what I'm looking for.

    Excellent. Just the inspiration I've been looking for.

    Also remember that you can buy plastic or wood veneer edging to cover the exposed cut edges, for a more finished look.

    3 replies

    I know, i know... It's just one of those things, you see - doing the main job takes a couple days, then you give yourself a break for a week before you do the finishing and then it's a year after and you got used to all the imperfections a while ago. I'll do it, one day ;)

    I hear ya - as soon as it's doing its job, then the task is done! I always find the last little fiddly bits - applying finish, paint, etc. - to be the worst. :)

    ideally one would sand and stain/varnish the wood before construction after wood is cut to size

    Too divide the load, you could also do this at lower shelves at an interval. For instance, you could attach screws at the top, 3rd and 5th shelves OR the top 4th and 7th shelves. Adding attachment points will divide the load. You could also attach at shelf points where you intend to have heavy books resting. Using the same process to drill at the shelf point, the system will still look as though its floating on the wall!

    2 replies

    Could do that, but the shelf stands on the floor anyway, so it really doesn't need dividing the load - most load is actually on the floor, and the screws are there mostly to make sure that the shelf doesn't fall to the front. With more screws you could lift it from the floor and make it 'float' even more, agreed. But that's compromising the functionality, I think, as you would need to give up the bottom shelf - when it's there you don't really see whether the shelf stands on the floor or not anyway, so only getting rid of it would make the effect visible. I prefer to have more book-space. On the other hand, only three screws have the advantage of not messing up your wall too much and making it easier to move the shelf should you need to.

    And let me just mention that I have this bookself for over a year now, it has more books on it than it had when the photo was taken, and it still takes all its load with ease, happiness and pride ;)

    I REALLY like this! Simple and clean lines, very nice.