Custom Heavy Duty Bookshelf

Introduction: Custom Heavy Duty Bookshelf

Problem Statement:

This idea came out of the need to move my books off the floor and enclosed cabinets, onto the wall. The advantages are: they no longer have to be moved out of the way during cleaning; and the books are more visible and more likely be used on a regular basis.

The problem with my books was that they are not small novels. They are mostly large and heavy engineering text books, and so the shelf would have be very strong and durable, both in terms of mounting and the shelf material itself.

Proposed Solution:

I decided to build two 4 ft long shelves. The material would be a full sized wooden plank, instead of 2x4s, and I would use heavy duty wall mount brackets bolted into studs. This was the general proposal. Read on for the specifics!

Materials Used:

(1x) 12 x 10 x 1.5 inch douglas fir interior plank (Home Depot)

(4x) Heavy Duty bookshelf brackets (Home Depot)

(12x) Screws to mount bookshelf brackets (sized and recommended by brackets)

(8x) Screws to mount shelf onto brackets (sized and recommended by brackets)

Wood Stain, your color of choice (Home Depot)

Minwax fast-drying polyurethane, Satin finish (Home Depot)

Abandoned plywood and 2x4s (to build drying frame)

Screws to build drying frame

Hooks to mount planks into drying frame

rags for staining

brush for polyurethane

0.090 thick aluminum for end caps

Wood screws to mount end caps

Step 1: Processing the Shelf Material

At Home Depot itself, I had them cut the plank into three pieces of 4 ft, 4 ft, and 2 ft in length.

What did I do with them next? Nothing! You have to allow the planks to "settle" over a few days or more. Sure enough, they warped.

I found a local maker collaborative in Mesa, and they had a planer. I took my planks to them and got them planed. However, there were still some dents in the planks. I then went to Ace Hardware and bought some Wood Filler. I used a putty knife to put in the wood filler, and then sanded down with coarse, then medium grit.

We are now ready for staining!

Step 2: Staining and Finishing the Shelves

I had to think a little about this one. If I wanted the shelves to be stained evenly on both top and bottom, the best way to dry them would not be laying them flat. Then, I'd have to contend with a possible mismatch between top and bottom, not to mention all the extra time that it would take to dry each side, and the issues with placing them.

So I built a drying frame out of 2x4s and plywood that was lying around. I bought screw-in eye-hooks from Ace Hardware to hang the shelves during staining and finishing.

Ensure that the height of your drying frame is tall enough with room for the shelf to hang with the hook screwed into it.

And we're off! I used rags to put on three coats of "Dark Walnut" stain, followed by two coats of Minwax Satin finish Polyurethane. I recommend Satin over Glossy, since it has a classier look and is better at blending in imperfections.

Step 3: Mounting the Wall Brackets

While the shelves were drying, I mounted the wall brackets, onto STUDS. I have to emphasize the importance of finding studs. Do it repeatedly to ensure that you have found them, and only then can you screw in the wall bracket. I found it useful to have a nice long level. Pre-drill small holes to start the screws better.

Step 4: Mounting the Shelves Onto Brackets

After your shelves are dry, you can now mount them onto the brackets. Notice that I used a small piece of tape to ensure that the pre-drilled holes did not go too deep.

I also bought some 9" bookends from Office Max.

It was a happy moment to move the books from the floor to the wall!

Step 5: End Cap

I didn't like the look of the bare ends of the bookshelves, so I designed end caps in Solidworks to be made out of 0.090"-thick aluminum. I put in a lot of #10-sized "utility holes" in case I wanted to mount lights or other things from the bookshelf later.

They were waterjet-cut and then black-anodized. I realize that I am fortunate to work in a place that both uses such processes and also encourages us to work on personal projects such as this.

Step 6: Final Product

I think it looks great, and does a superb job of carrying heavy books!

Be the First to Share


    • Mason Jar Speed Challenge

      Mason Jar Speed Challenge
    • Bikes Challenge

      Bikes Challenge
    • Remix Contest

      Remix Contest



    I have lots of textbooks lying around that I couldn't bring myself to sell back (too attached). I like the looks of your shelf, nice job!