Introduction: $2000 Contemporary Bookshelf for $100

About: I actively seek new ways to express my creativity whether that may be through projects I create, or devices I design and build. If you would like to connect, or even just talk about cool ideas, feel free to s…

Lets be honest, most of us probably have an ugly old $20 bookshelf collecting dust somewhere in our house. If you are re-decorating a room, chances are you are doing it on a budget. For a lowly college student, like myself, I have to find creative ways to make do with what I got. I decided to start with my bookshelf. I wanted one that had a unique look, that served as a pedestal for a bunch of junk I had laying around in my room. I searched the Opulent Items website, drooling over bookshelves I would never be able to afford, until I stumbled upon, THE ONE. Now, I based my inspiration off of the one I found on the website, and drew up plans based on how I wanted mine to look. Then off to Home Depot I went. In the end, I made two models of my bookshelf, one out of bookshelf wood, the other out of plywood. Once painted, they look the same, unless you choose to keep the natural look.

Step 1: Things You Will Need: (Suggestions)

-8 hours of free time (leisurely)

-Electric saw

-Electric drill, with drill bits slightly smaller than your screws

-Tape measurer


-Wood putty

-Sandpaper, or an Electric Sander

-A box of 1 1/2 inch screws drywall screws (they were black and did not damage the wood)

-2 or 3 of 5/8ths inch laminated plywood

-A 1/4th inch particle board sheet (8 sq. ft is enough)

-Paint (optional)

-Paint Brush (optional)

Step 2: Draw

Draw out a design you like, or mimic one you think will fit your room. This step is crucial, because it will determine how difficult it will be to build your idea. A simple napkin drawing will work fine. Don't be afraid to dream big.

Step 3: Dimension

For my project, I kept all my angles at 90, so I knew everything would fit in place, but I off set the whole bookshelf by 45 degrees. Using simple scaling, and geometry, I was able to find out the lengths of my boards, assuming that my center square was 16" by 16". From there, I based the rest of my box sizes off of it, knowing that I wanted it to be the centerpiece. for simplicity, I filled the paper with boxes until the dimensions were 4' x 4', a good bookshelf size. The biggest issue that will arise here is the fact that all boards have a thickness, so I say this with gusto, SCALE ACCORDINGLY. My first time scaling the bookshelf, I forgot to add a distance equivalent to the thickness of the board connecting it, so I had to re-cut a bunch of my boards. Make a list of board lengths to cut. (A little organization makes things go way smoother) Example: 3, 12" boards 7, 23" boards etc... This way you don't cut more than you need.

Make a list of board lengths to cut. (A little organization makes things go way smoother)

3, 12" boards

7, 23" boards etc... This way you don't cut more than you need.

Step 4: Cut

Cut the 4'x8' plywood sheets into four 1'x8' planks. No one length will be longer than 4 feet, so this is an efficient way to get the most length out of your sheet. Copy the dimensions from the paper to the boards and cut accordingly. Do this with the particle board as well.

Step 5: Sand

Sand all the surfaces where there may be nicks, unless you are going for the rough industrial look.

Step 6: Joints

Wherever there is a joint, with a pencil, mark 3 spots for the screws to go. Keep in mind that if you are too close to the edge, it will splinter, I would recommend moving in at least an inch or two. It is best to be consistent in your marking, for a better look.

Step 7: Pre-drill

Pre drill all of the spots on the boards where you marked. Make sure they are completely straight, or you could have screws sticking out of the sides of your board. In order to sink the screw heads below the surface of the board, you may need a large drill bit to create a small well for the head of a screw to fit in. This WILL depend on the hardness of your boards.

Step 8: Assemble

Starting from the center, check your dimensioned boards to see that they match the plans, and joint them accordingly. The reason why I say the center, is because if there are any problems in your dimensions, you can always adjust building outwards. Apply the particle board backing to the spots you choose to cover.

Step 9: Putty (optional)

If you are looking to paint, or stain your bookshelf, putty all the holes that the screws make. This will look more professional.

Step 10: Paint (optional)

Making sure the bookshelf is clean of any dirt or dust, paint to your heart's desire.

Plywood Contest

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Plywood Contest