About: Check out my website (link in bio) or my IG feed at for all of my wood crafting adventures
   A few months after moving into our apt, my wife and I quickly realized that our stuff was taking over what little space we had! So, instead of simply buying everything premade, we decided to embrace our inner DIY and build a bookcase that not only fit our style and budget, but most importantly, made the most efficient use of our quickly dwindling spaces. 

   The best part about this is that the finished product will meet your SPECIFIC needs versus buying something premade and hoping it's not too big, or too small. Often times the items you want to store don't fit or the piece you buy simply doesn't look the way you want it to. Regardless of what your skill level or previous experience is, you can always be sure that designing/building your own furniture is a satisfying way to achieve exactly what you want and to be proud of it as well!

  • ~36' of 1x10 pine boards
  • wood screws
  • wood glue
  • wood stain
  • wood sealer
  • something to apply the stain with (rags, brushes, foam pads, etc.)
  • 56 small brass shelf brackets
  • varying grits of sandpaper (150-400 should be enough)

  • saw (circular, miter, hand...whatever is available to you)
  • drill
  • screwdriver
  • clamps
  • small level

It should go without saying that when working with any tools, you remember to use them properly and safely. That includes the use of goggles, earplugs, and face masks when necessary. If you don't know how to use the tools properly, please take the time to learn! Ok, with that said...let's get to it! 


  Before you start hacking away at your freshly bought lumber, take the time to figure out what you want your finished project to look like. An extra half hour spent on this step will save you loads of work, money, and aggravation in the me.

   It helps to measure out the area you want to use. Then go up from there.  Once you have your final design, you can start to measure out the total amount of lumber. For this project I kept the divisions simple at 1', so i simply counted them up, accounted for the wood thickness*  where it was needed, and got about 35.5' in total. At this point you may want to break down the lumber into individual pieces you want to buy. 

   So, instead of thinking "ok i need 40", so i'll just buy 4 10' pieces", do a little  math and actually map out what size pieces you need and then price out a few different options. After getting the measurements on EACH piece, i figured i could get all my cuts in with 6 6' pieces for the least amount of money. This will greatly help you reduce waste wood in the end and may save you time and money from going out to buy extra. 

*the difference between nominal wood sizes (2x4, 1x8, etc) and the actual wood sizes will vary from piece to piece due to moisture evaporation and planing the wood flat. Typically, you can expect anywhere from 1/4"-1/2" difference between the nominal and actual sizes (see here for a chart on nominal vs actual wood sizes). For this reason it's always important to keep that in mind when planning a project and to measure the lumber once you buy it to verify.


  Depending on what's available to you, or what your skill level is, your tool of choice may vary. Whatever you use, make sure you can get accurate repeatable cuts, i.e. a miter box for your hand saw, or a guide for your circular saw. And if you're really tight on wood and can't afford to waste a cut, don't forget to account for the saw kerf (thickness of the saw blade), as this will make a difference if you've made multiple cuts on the same board.

  I used a miter saw, since it was quick and accurate...and my brother happen to have one handy. It helps to have a list of what cuts you need, and if you're cutting from different sized boards you should always keep track of which cuts go where. An easy way to do this is by pre-marking/labeling your cuts on the wood. This way you can make a cut and cross it off your list.


  Since making this bookcase, i've learned a lot about proper woodworking techniques and all the different ways of joining wood together...unfortunately, i knew next to nothing when i made this. That's not to say that using the brackets the way i did is wrong (it definitely works), it's just not the most elegant way. So, if you're feeling brave or just wanna be fancy, go ahead and try your hand at some hand cut dovetails, mortise and tenons, rabbits and dados, or any other techniques you wanna try. Otherwise, home depot brackets it is!

   I started by gluing the two longest corners together and running 3 wood screws up from the bottom side of the base into the long vertical piece. I then continued this process for all of the vertical pieces. 

Then, i started adding the shelves in between. I marked out all of the holes for the brackets on the underside of each shelf and on the standing pieces. Then i pre drilled them into the vertical pieces. It's important that you add the shelves horizontally so that all of the vertical pieces maintain an even amount of tension on them. You don't want to put all the shelves on one column right away because by the time you get to the end your wood might not line up and you may end up cracking a board where it meets the bottom.


  Now that you've got everything assembled, it's time to make 'er shine! Depending on the initial quality of the wood when you purchased it, you may still find it rough to the touch. Some light sanding should get it nice and smooth. Just know that the smoother you get it, the nicer the finish will look. This was one step i sort of overlooked and i can still see some grain marks through the stain.

So, before you apply any stain, make sure to wipe down the piece with a damp rag to remove any dirt or sawdust.  FYI, if you're going with pine for this project, as i did, be prepared for some uneven absorption of your finish. This stuff is notorious for drinking up stain in one area and on the very next there's a puddle of it that won't soak in. If that's a big concern i recommend getting some wood conditioner and applying that BEFORE the stain. This should help to even out some blotches. 

Finally, your piece is sanded, prepped, conditioned and ready to stain! I suggest you start from the bottom up, and make sure you wipe off any big drips. If you're in an enclosed area this would be a great time to use a face mask, or open some wiindows...this stuff can give you some wicked headaches if not ventilated properly. Once your first coat is on i like to wait a few hours before my next coat. It's up to you to determine how many coats you put on...typically the more you put on the darker it gets. I put on about 3.

Now the only thing left is to put on a sealer to protect the wood from damage and give it a nice shine. I used a semi gloss on this project, but you can use anything from completely matte to a high gloss. For the clearcoat I basically repeated the same process for applying the stain, and again i put on about 3 coats.

Step 5: ENJOY

That's it! Now you can stuff this puppy full of whatever you got lying around! So, sit back and enjoy your handiwork. Thanks for viewing!

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    9 Discussions

    Awesome!! Definitely on my next projects list. I really like the way you make things, they look so polished and expensive (loved your bottle cutter design).

    Great ible by the way. Really appreciate if you have some more pics of the intermediate assembly steps.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey thanks for the support! Glad you liked it. Unfortunately, i made this instructable way after i made the bookshelf so i don't have any other pics of the construction stage.

    But if you have any specific questions on anything i'd be more than happy to answer them:)