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In this instructables i'm making a rustic modern bookshelf. There is just something satisfying about creating your own piece of furniture. I‘m excited to show you the steps I took to create this bookshelf; this can also be used for storage. This bookshelf is designed to be broken down for easy transport. The nice two-tone finish quickly draws attention to the eye with lots of storage. This can be used for all sorts of application, maybe you want to show off your art, valuables, maybe your camera gear etc.

Cut List
(4) Shelves – (11 1/8”) X (48”) X (1.5in)

(4) Frame Front Back (68”)X (1.5in) X (1.5in)

(4) Frame Top & Bottom (11 1/4in) X (1.5in) X (1.5in)

(2) Cross Support (67in) X (1.5in) X (1.5in)

For more info on this build (free plans, material list and tools used click here)

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Step 1: Making the Cut


You can find a complete material list above. When making the shelves, one thing to keep in mind the dimensions may vary. I took the width of the smallest shelf then ripped the other shelves to match. You can use a table saw or a circular saw with an edge guide to rip the shelves. I only used four shelves but you can use more. This design is fairly easy to modify.


Cut all the 2by2 to be the same length. Then cut the bottom and top part to complete the frame. As a way to keep the design clean, I used dowels. I have mixed feelings towards them, mainly because there is no room for error. For me, I find that a dowel center works great, especially where you cannot get a dowel jig to work. After drilling the holes glue up the parts, then add wood glue and clamps.

Step 2: Making the Cross Support

To create the cross support I temporary laid out the shelf as it would be completed. I took a 2by2 lumber and placed it diagonally across the back. With this piece of lumber in place, I then marked it where it intersected the two frames. Then cut it at that mark. Next, I used this piece of cross support to mark the other the other one.

Making the cross With both parts cut to size. Set them in place as if there were installed, placing one on top of the other. Now, mark both parts, then label them. I used a top and bottom label.

Step 3: Cutting the Half Lap Joint

Note: If you don’t plan to disassemble you can glue this joint. I like the idea of being able to break this down.

With both pieces being marked from the previous step, use a hand saw to cut inside the line. Prior to cutting, make sure you mark the halfway point on both pieces. Then, take a chisel and remove the unwanted areas. Put the cross support together then find the center of the intersection. Next, drill a hole for the connecting bolt. Do not drill all the way through both pieces. With half of the material being removed I had to modify the threaded insert, making it shorter.

Step 4: Attaching the Cross Support

Since the cross support is not bearing any weight and just providing stability I felt this setup would be ideal. Threaded insert is one of my favorite hardware to use when connecting two parts. Driving a threaded insert in the end grain it surprisingly strong. I was able to drive most of the insert in at the right angle. I did notice one of them was at an angle, which I used a file to clean it up.

Step 5: Sanding and Applying Finish

Although I used a thickness planer in this project. You don’t need it! My lumber is not 100% flat; my main goal was to minimize sanding my removing a few layers. Keeping the thick look was important to me. An orbital sander or a belt sander will work just fine. after sanding the shelves I then sanded the frame.

Applying Finish

For the shelves, I used light Walnut Danish oil and for the frame, I used Espresso 273.

Step 6: Assembling the Frame

After allowing the stain to completely dry, assemble the frame, then add the cross support. Make sure all bolts are tightened. If you notice any wobble in the frame, the shelves should add weight and make this more stable. Next, apply a coat of protection, I used polyurethane.

Step 7: Adding the Shelves

For spacing, I placed the first shelf 4 inches from the very bottom. I then used a piece of wood as a template to space the shelves apart evenly. I spaced them 16in apart but this is personal preference. After installing the brackets take the frame to your desired location and then add the shelves. The bracket comes with screws, which will work, but I used longer screws to attach the shelves.

Step 8: Final

Here are is few photos of the finished product

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    13 Discussions

    anders ingers

    11 days ago

    Great instuctable! Shelves are excellent and the detail given to make your own are excellent


    14 days ago

    This is a beautiful bookshelf and you made it look easy. I'm not very good at woodworking, so I know it would take me a lot longer than it did you and I'd probably make a dozen mistakes. I really appreciate the amount of detail you showed in how you located the cross pieces, shelf brackets, etc. That really helps me understand the construction sequence and method. One thing though, I didn't really understand how the tool you made to locate the shelf brackets located the bracket position on the upright piece and at the same time centered the bracket on the upright.

    I have a question: Where do you find lumber that is not warped and twisted? None of the lumber I find in my area (central Oklahoma) would be suitable for a project like this because it is so warped and twisted.

    2 replies

    Reply 13 days ago

    I also live in central Oklahoma and can tell you that it is difficult to find quality wood as you pointed out. But it can be done. If you go to Lowe's or Home Depot, look at the "select" quality wood section. If you can't find what you need, go to a specialty store, such as Woodcraft ( on north May ave.). You can also google sawmills and see what's close by.


    Reply 13 days ago

    Thanks! That's some very useful information. Glad to know there are people in the central OK area contributing to Instructables. I'll be looking for more Instructables from you and I'll check out your website. :-)


    13 days ago

    I really like seeing clever projects with standard dimensional lumber! The 2-tone wood stain really looks good, the design is very clean and it looks sturdy too, great project!


    14 days ago

    One thing I love about this Instructable is the notes on when tools are optional - I don't own a planer, so I got nervous, but then it says "a planer is optional" (paraphrase).

    It's so well done, and it results in a beautiful build as well. I am hopeful I'll be able to get this built over the winter.


    14 days ago

    That is a beautiful set of shelves. You can't beat good half lap joints for strength and stability!
    Where did you get the dust mask you had on in the video when you were cutting the lumber? It looks like a great mask.


    14 days ago on Step 8

    Great looking shelf, thanks for sharing! :)


    15 days ago

    Wow! That's beautiful. Nice work.

    JT Woodworks

    15 days ago

    Thanks for breaking down this build in easily achievable, and simple steps. Also, love the knockdown feature!

    Kink Jarfold

    16 days ago on Step 8

    An elegant design. The back cross braces are perfect for this unit. It's also nice that you're going to donate it. Someone will be getting a nice gift. KJ

    Grant Wood.png

    17 days ago on Step 8

    Very nice looking shelf, and simple instructions, I want to try one like it when I get some time off work next month.

    1 reply