Introduction: Stylish and Easy to Make Corner Bookshelf

Picture of Stylish and Easy to Make Corner Bookshelf

A friend asked me if I could build a bookshelf for her, and I was thinking about building something similar to my previous project (see:

https://www.instructables.com/id/Stylish-and-easy-to-make-bookshelf/ ). However, it turned out that there was only space for a corner bookshelf, which made things seem more difficult. However, with a little thought, I came up with a slightly modified, but very efficient project.

 Once again, the bookshelf is made without a single nail or screw, though this time it uses dowels. It took me exactly two afternoons to make. The project can be easily modified if you need the shelf to be wider on one or both sides, or higher.

Materials:
- 3 wooden boards 2100x120x18
- 1 MDF board 2440x1220x18
- Paint and varnish

Tools:
- Jigsaw
- Drill
- Files and sanding paper

Step 1: Got Wood?

Picture of Got Wood?

Make sure you measure your room well and get the boards cut the right lengths.

I wanted my shelf to be door-frame high, so I simply bought classic 2100 boards. If you want your shelf taller, just buy longer boards.


As to the shelves themselves, my project had to fit a 1000 x 870 mm  space, and thus the boards were cut to the following lengths (I got them cut in the store, so that was the easy part - the picture shows how to cut them from a single MDF):

6 x 200x870mm - that's the boards for the shorter arm.
1 x 250x870mm - that's the bottom board for the shorter arm, made wider to hold oversize books.
6 x 175x800mm - that's for the longer arm.
1 x 200x750mm - that's the bottom for the longer arm

If you want to have a taller bookshelf with an extra shelf, it's easily done, just add one for each arm. If you want your shelves wider, because you have wide books, just modify the design. The though behind this one is that the shorter arm is a bit wider to hold hardbacks and album books, while the longer is for smaller paperbacks. The sizes are good for that purpose.

Remember about one more thing: if you have floor boards in the space where you want the shelf, and the boards are high enough to get to the level of the lowest shelf, make sure you take them into account, and cut the bottom shelf shorter by the depth of your floor boards.

Step 2: Cut Out the Vertical Boards

Picture of Cut Out the Vertical Boards

You need to first decide how much space you need per shelf. I generally thought that the larger books will go at the bottom, and my friend reported that her tallest book is 32cm, so I made sure the bottom shelf fits it being 330mm high. I went for the following distances between shelves:

|       
---
|          - 240
---
|          - 250
---
|          - 250
---
|          - 270
---
|          - 290
---
|          - 330
----
'          - 40

Remember that when you measure the board for the spaces between shelves, you need to add 18mm for the thickness of the shelf itself.

All cut-outs should be exactly 18mm wide space 60mm deep, and in exactly the same places on all boards. Try out each cut with a piece of the MDF you're going to use after cutting it and file it if the MDF doesn't fit in. Make sure it fits rather tightly - if it's not tight enough, the shelf will be wobbly, and you'll need to spend more time later adding bits and pieces to make it more stable.

Finally, if you want to give your shelf a nice finishing touch, do something with the top bits of the boards (above the top shelf cut-outs) - there's no limits to what you can do there, they bear no structural load, just look good. I went for a simple curve which joins the shelf with the wall, but anything is possible.

Step 3: Cut Out the Shelves

Picture of Cut Out the Shelves

Now it's time to cut out the shelves themselves. The cuts should be, naturally, fitting the cuts on the vertical boards, so should all be 60mm deep and 18mm wide - once again, use a bit of the board to check whether they are the right size, and file so that they are just right. If they go in too easily, or are too large, the shelf might be wobbly and will require some tweaking at the end.
The pictures show how they should look.

After you cut all boards, drill holes for the dowels. Needless to say, the holes on the longer shelf should be matching those on the shorter one. The picture shows how it looks after being joined together.

Finally, similarly as with the vertical boards, you may want to add a finishing curve at the ends of each shelf. Up to you.

Step 4: Paint

This is just to mention that the shelf will be much easier to paint before you assemble it, rather than after.

 File all elements smooth before you paint, and remember to varnish the whole after it's painted. Remember also not to apply too much paint, as the wood might get swollen and the 18mm cutouts which fit perfectly will suddenly be too small. Just try it out again after painting and file the cut-outs a little if there is need so everything fits comfortably again.

Step 5: Assemble

Picture of Assemble

Finally, you're ready to put the whole together. There's a little trick to it - you need to do things in the right order. The idea behind the shelf is that particular pieces hold each other and give each other support, which makes all elements a bit interdependent. The best way to do everything is the following:

1. Attach the bottom shelf from the shorter side firmly to board B (corner board), and only very gently place it in it's cut-out in board A (so that it's in place, but not very firmly in).
2. Keep adding all the shorter shelves in the same way, and once you have all in, fit them all firmly into the cut-outs in board A. Now boards A and B should be in place, and the shelf should be falling at you, because it's not yet stable.
3. Place board C in it's position and put the longer bottom shelf in it. Join it with the shorter bottom shelf using the dowels.
4. Tilt the C board a little away from B board and add consecutive shelves starting from the bottom. With each one you should be able to push the C board a little more towards the rest, as all the dowel connections get in place.
5. Fill with books!

This should be pretty much it. If you cut all the bits properly and tightly, the shelf shouldn't wobble and the particular shelves should sit very firmly in place. If that's not the case, it means you screwed something up and need to fix it now. Basically, take the bits of wood you cut out before and form splinters of them, and hammer them into the cutouts which are too wide, to make them tight. Once this is done, everything should be good

Comments

JakeS50 made it! (author)2015-12-02

My wife asked for a bookshelf for our sons room, so I made it. She's in love with it so I'm happy. But using dowel pins was a pain to get them to line up perfectly. I'm a steel worker by trade, so I made brackets for supports instead of dowel pins. Probably just lack of patience on my part. All in all, great shelf and thanks for the idea!

Natasz (author)JakeS502015-12-02

Thanks! It looks great! This is perfect timing, too - just a couple days ago the shelf I made had to be dismantled due to a home move the a place where there was no space for it, so it's wonderful to see it live on in your work.

infiniteharley (author)2013-12-12

Just wanted to check one more thing! Thanks for your responses. Is the cut on the vertical shelves for the bottom layer of shelves 40mm above the ground, so that the entire unit rests on the small under bits of the vertical shelves? Or are the bottom shelves touching the ground? Just wanted to get that clear. It's taken me a bit more time to blueprint cuz I'm converting to inches! Thanks again for this great design

Natasz (author)infiniteharley2013-12-14

I had them 40mm above, because I didn't like the idea of having them right on the ground. But I guess it's up to you. I have another shelf (not on instructables) which is made with the same method, but has no bottom shelf, so the books simply stand on the ground on the bottom level. It's really a purely aesthetic thing.

infiniteharley (author)2013-12-12

Oh gotcha! Thanks so much for getting back to me so quick, huge help. So does that mean you didn't put any glue between dowel joints? Thanks for clearing all this up. And mostly thanks for this awesome post, can wait to finish it :)

Natasz (author)infiniteharley2013-12-12

No problem!
No glue, because I was expecting to move home with it, meaning I had to dis- and reassemble it. And I did, twice already - it's still standing :)

Good luck with the building! I wonder how it will look like...

infiniteharley (author)2013-12-12

Hey can't wait to make this! Do you need to dowel all the connections or only the joints between the big and small shelves? Also how long did you wait for dowels to dry

Natasz (author)infiniteharley2013-12-12

Hi! Thanks for the interest :)
I only put dowels in the connections between the longer and shorter shelves. The shelf-to-vertical-board should hold without a dowel.
Also, they didn't need to dry - it's an easy connection, if you cut everything right, it doesn't actually bear much stress, because the shorter part of the shelf is 'falling' on the longer one anyway and presses the shelves in. Mind you, I have since moved to a flat which has a bit uneven floor which makes it fall the other way, so I added a small brace on the back, joining the middle short and long shelves.

thepinktank (author)2012-10-22

Are these just free-standing? I don't see how they'd connect into a wall, but I just want to be sure before I get started.

Thanks for the 'able!

Natasz (author)thepinktank2012-10-23

Yes, they are. Good luck! :)

ChrysN (author)2011-09-07

Pretty, they look so nice with the lilac painted walls.

Natasz (author)ChrysN2011-09-08

The colours are of my friend's choice, so she's to praise for that one :)

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