Bookshelf Ladder Style




Introduction: Bookshelf Ladder Style

About: I am a mother of 3. A Jill of all trades, and I like to think I have mastered them all. My favorite hobby is carpentry, but I am by no means a cabinet maker like my Grandfather was. I also sew, paint, renova...

  I wanted to custom build a bookshelf to make use of a useless space in our living room.
I also wanted something that I could easily take apart and move  Iater on if I wanted to relocate
it, and it could be easily moved by one person. So  I came up with a ladder style
book shelf. The shelves can be easily removed, and the two sides (ladder style) can be easily
carried and moved. I also wanted cheap. Total cost was about 30.00$
I have built variations on the style using melamine for shelving from clearance lumber sales

Dimensions of custom size: 33" w X 15" d X 94" h

one sheet of 3/4 inch plywood ( I used roof sheeting, it was cheaper, a little rough, but it worked)
cut to 15" x 32"  times 8
4- 1/2 "x 3 1/3" x 8' pine (from home depot)
cut down to 94"
4 - 1/2" x 1"  pine (from Home Hardware) Looks like strapping, but better quality.
cut to 15"L times 16 ( for ladder rungs)
1" deck screws
cordless drill
latex paint mistints or left overs for 'stain' (quart of black, and sample size of burgundy, mixed and watered down)
clear coat of some description. I used water based minwax gloss, 3 coats
sand paper (not from $ store)
to save more $, in past I have used skid (pallet) tops for ladder rungs, sanded. They are least visible part  of project.

First I bought the plywood and had it cut to width at the store, because I only have hand saws.
I had them cut to 15" wide by 8' long, plus 3" trim.  I then cut them ( yes by hand) to 32" in length
for a total of 8. I cut the rest of the wood to size. The ladder side lenghs I cut to 94", to fit in a 96" space
with a little head room. The 'rungs' were cut to 15" for 16 pieces.
I then assembled the 'ladders' . My shelf space varied according to my book sizes, in this instance , from
top down as follows: 12", 15", 15", 12", 12", 12", 13 1/2, with 1/2 inch space from floor.

After assembling of the sides, Mixed my paint colour and watered it down approx 2/10 part paint water. I
then applied this like a stain, painted on, and wiped off after a min. One coat only. This gives it a rich
colour, but you can still see the wood grain, I repeated this for all the shelves, both sides, except
for the top and bottom shelf, I only stained one side.
  I let this dry for 24 hours, since there was high wter content in the stain. I then clear coated all parts.
the sides had 2 coats, the top of the shelves had three coats. Two coats of clear coat on the bottom of the
shelves that would be visible.
  After everything was dry, I brought the parts to the living room, and assembled it in place.
Beacause of the minimal 2" space from the top of the shelf to the ceiling, the shelf had to
be assembled standing. It could not be assembled on the floor, and then put in place, beacause of the tight fit.
I installed the top, bottom and middle shelf first, and used deck srews into the ends of the shelf ,
in both sies to hold it together.
I have used a 1/2 small scrap for spacing, and attached one side of 'ladder' to the wall, to keep
small children ( or anyone) from pulling it over, I also attached it to the back wall with an L bracket.
I then added the rest of the shelves. I just slid them in place.
A piece of plywood or masonite could be used for the back, as support, or for visual enhancement.
Since mine was in a corner, I decided to leave the back open, also I can see the paint colour through the shelf,
and ties it in to the rest of the room.

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    2 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This looks like exactly what I'm looking for to build floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in our living room. I'd like to create a "library/study" feel to the room. I'm thinking about making a set of 3-4 of these side by side. Do you think they would be sturdy enough to be completely filled from top to bottom with books?

    Thanks for sharing!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I work in a book store, and this shelf if completely full. Some shelves have paperbacks two rows deep. I used 3/4" plywood sheating, sanded down.
    It is solid, and no shelf sagging, which is something that always drove me
    crazy with the particle board department store bookshelves. I have built some
    smaller versions of this as well, one I use as a pantry with canned food on.