Contemporary Bookshelf




Introduction: Contemporary Bookshelf

This instructable describes a bookshelf I made one Saturday after taking the Woodshop Basics SBU class at TechShop. It is made entirely of wood. No screws or metal was used in its construction. All of the tools I used are available at TechShop.

I made it at TechShop.

For more information about TechShop go to

Step 1: Bookshelf Materials

For my bookshelf, I purchased from Lowes...

Two 1" x 8" x 8ft - Pine Boards
One 1" x 3" x 8ft - Pine Board
One 100 Count Container of #20 Plate Joining Biscuits

Step 2: Cut the Sides and Shelves

I needed the bookshelf to fit in a spot located beneath and behind my desk which is 48" width, 26" tall and 10" deep. I used a compound mitre saw to cut the pieces.

The side pieces are 24' long.
The shelves are 46" long.

Depending on your space, you can customize your bookshelf by making it taller with more shelves or narrower.

Step 3: Biscuit Joinery

The top and bottom shelves are attached to the sides using biscuit joinery. Biscuits are small pieces of wood that side into cutouts in the shelves and sides.

Biscuits come in various sizes, and for this project, I used #20 biscuits.

The cutouts are created using an electrical tool called a biscuit joiner.

Step 4: Cutting the Biscuit Slots in the Shelves

Start by marking the center lines of the biscuits on the shelf. For my bookself, I measure 2" from each outside edge. Next, make sure the board is clamped securely to the table. Finally, aligned the mark with the center-line on the biscuit joiner and carefully push the cutter into the end.

Step 5: Cutting the Biscuit Slots in the Sides

Since the shelves meet the sides at right angles, use a piece of scrap wood and place it where you want the bottom of the shelf. Place the joiner so it cuts into the face of the side.

I wanted to prevent things from rolling under the bookshelf, add support, and improve the appearance, so I left space for a 1" x 3" piece of wood under the last shelf.

Step 6: Gluing the Pieces Together

After all the slots are cut, apply glue to all the connecting edges. Next, insert the bisuits, and hold everything together with clamps. When the clamps are tightened glue should ooze out from every seam. Use a damp rag to wipe off the excess glue.

Leave the clamps in place for several hours.

Step 7: Adding an Adjustable Shelf

I wanted an adjustable shelf, but I did not want to use the usual small metal studs.

The system I chose is fast and easy and uses no hardware. The shelf is supported by a block of wood. The wood block is held in place by rails with semi-circles in each side. 

Step 8: Making the Adjustable Rails

The rails were made by cutting two 1"x3" pieces approximately 19.75" long. I drilled three 1.5" holes at locations spaced approximately 3" apart. Next, I ripped the two parts down the center. Finally, I glued the rails to the inside of the sides.

For the support blocks, I measured the space between the semi-circles and cut blocks that were 1.5" wide by the measured length.

Using a disc sander, I rounded the ends to match the 1.5" diameter circles.

Step 9: Making the Adjustable Shelf

Using a bandsaw, I cut notches in the center shelf to allow the shelf to fit between the rails.

Step 10: Adding Decorative Bottom Panel

To prevent things from rolling under the bookshelf, I glued a 1" x 3" x 46" piece under the bottom shelf. The bottom panel is inset 1" from the front.

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    7 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I love your solution to those crappy little shelf support studs.... Brilliant.

    5 stars.


    7 years ago on Step 10

    Awesome! Do you plan to stain and varnish it?


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 10

    Thanks, I'd like to but it's currently under my desk about 1/2 full of books. 


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Audrey,

    Thank you very much for your generous review.



    7 years ago on Introduction

    Looks good!

    May build this as a paint rack for my workshop as I dont have dedicated shelves for my paint :-P Although it is obviously more suited as a bookshelf.