Introduction: Minimalist Leaning Bookshelf (shelves Slot in From Behind)

This tutorial will instruct you how to build a leaning bookshelf.

Originally constructed at Autodesk's stunning Pier 9 in San Francisco.


o **Water jet**

o Tig Welding station

o Metal pillar drill


o Hand drill

o Hammer

o Large Clamps

o Metal Punch

o Marker

o Metal Saw

o Circular sander & grinder

Materials (subject to preference):

o Stainless Steel inch square tubing

o ¾ inch Ply

o Small black screws

o Cam Lock Fasteners

Step 1: Plan!

Here is an example image of the side profile plan of the bookshelf (using Solidworks).



o over all height you would like your shelving unit to be

o angle between short and long metal square tubing at top depending on how far from the wall you want the longest leg to stand

o total length of short and long tubing (x2 to repeat on both sides)

Ply Wood-

o how many shelves

o height & depth of wood

Step 2: Water Jet

o x2 side panel

o x2 opposite side panel

o x2 shelf

Export your drawings as a dxf for the water jet cutter and plan the route carefully.

For each cut, start the jet outside the outline of each piece coming in, otherwise you end up with an unattractive blowout in the piece you are using.

I used two ¾ inch ply sheets for one side (4 pieces in total for both sides) and one sheet for each self.

Step 3: Dry, ​*Act Fast!*

After all the pieces are cut, pull them off carefully and set to dry immediately. Ply is not fond of water and will warp if left soaking in water for too long. If possible use compressed air to blow off residual water sitting on top during the cutting process.

Step 4: Glue

Use ample amounts of PVA to fasten the two sheets together for each side of the bookshelf.

When gluing over night, it is always best to use a waste flat piece on top so that when you use clamps on both sides, you apply even pressure across the whole surface instead of just two points (which also may leave an unattractive dent on the piece you're working with).

Step 5: Brief Sand

Here, you're not trying to get the perfect finish because you still have a while to go, but just to remove any unattractive surface finishes caused by the water damage or ply itself. (It is easier to remove them now before you start assembling the bookshelf later)

Use fine grade sand paper on all the corners just to soften them a little as the water cutter leaves sharp edges.

Step 6: Mark & Drill Side Holes in Ply

*side holes*

Mark 4 evenly spaced points using a pencil (the points where the side cam locks will slide in).

Note, when drawing the lines, they should not be parallel with the cut out slots for the shelving as those cuts are parallel with ground level. You want to draw the lines perpendicular to the long angled edge.

During this time it is also important to use a Square measuring tool to mark the same point but on the front. This is to line up the hole for the cam lock with the screw coming in from the front.

Using a pillar drill with the diameter of the cam lock drill down (not all the way but just over half way down).

If you drill all the way through, you will see the holes from the outside surface and ruin the aesthetic.

Step 7: Cut Metal Tubing

According to your initial drawings, cut the metal 1 inch square tubing to size. If you have an angled circular saw that's a bonus because you can then make sure you get the perfect angle cut on the top joint where the small and long tubes meet for welding.

Do not forget this needs to be done twice so that there are legs on both sides of the bookshelf!

Step 8: Weld!

Tig Weld the angled joint between the long and short square tubing.

If possible, try to cut out a little wooden jig for this corner. This will ensure when you weld, you're not going to get something that has an angle which is completely incorrect. If the angle isn't perfect when welded you'll notice during assembly since the water jet cutter would have cut the angle with great precision on the ply and the metal tubing matches the angle (which is welded by hand). It's worth taking time to make sure your setup is perfect.

Repeat for other tubing.

Step 9: Mark Holes in Metal Tubing

Place up the tubing next to the ply side panels on a flat surface. Using the previously drawn lines on the front of the ply, line up the metal tubing with the front but don't forget to leave a small gap at the top (for aesthetic reasons).

Using a ruler, scribe and non-permanent marker, mark the centre halfway in from the side with a metal punch (this will help you drill later). Do this for all four holes. Repeat for other tubing.

Step 10: Drill and Grind Metal Tube

Clamp securely the metal tube to the drilling table and with the drill bit diameter for the screw intended to use later (with the cam lock), drill all the way through. Repeat for all four holes.

Depending on the finish of the tubing you may want to grind/ sand, polish or stain at this stage before you fasten them to the ply.

Step 11: Drill Front of Ply Panel

This is where you will fasten the metal tubing to the front of the ply side panels (and is the hardest part out of the whole assembly, so stay optimistic).

Clamp the side ply panel to a work bench.

Clamp the metal tubing in the centre of the top of the front of the side panel.

Clamp a perpendicular spring loaded jig for a hand drill on top of the metal tube.

The drill bit from the hand drill should slide down through the existing holes in the metal tubing with no problem.

Using the existing holes in the metal tube as a guide, drill down into the ply (not too far but just pass the existing side holes).

To make sure I had done the job correctly, I used a scrap straight rod and passed it through the metal and into the ply on all four holes (and both sides). Using a right angle tool, I made sure that the rod went through all the way down and was perpendicular to the surface.

Step 12: Apply Finish to Ply

If you like now is a good point to apply a finish to the wood before you fasten everything together permanently.

Step 13: Screw and Assemble

Now all the holes match up you need to insert the cam lock from the side and the screw through the metal tube down from the top. If all the previous steps went well shouldn't be a problem. If you find the holes don't match, the best thing to do is take that hand drill and make the holes match!

Once you've fastened your first metal tubing to your ply panel you should savour the moment because the assembly is almost done! :)

Step 14: Hammer in Shelves From Behind

Here is best to use a mallet and a scrap piece of wood (to protect your precious bookshelf). Try to hammer down in small increments all shelves on both sides at a time.

The End!