Rustic Desktop Bookshelf




About: Growing up in a rural area in the East of England I've always been interested in nature and trees and eventually found myself building things from the wood I could find. This has led me to follow my passion ...

I recently posted a tool tote I made as a gift for my friend Jack on his wedding day, this post details the gift for the bride, a desktop bookshelf. I wanted to make something original with a country/rustic feel about it and hopefully I achieved that. I have a YouTube video detailing the build and more detailed instructions below. Please be aware this post contains affiliate links.

I hope you enjoy it!

Step 1: Tools and Materials Needed


- Pencil and rule

- Crosscut saw/table saw

- Spokeshave/carving knife

- Large chisel

- Mallet

- Clamps

- Bevel Gauge

- Bench plane

- Gouge

- 7 X 30mm screws (1 3/16")

- Dowelling plate

- Drill and bits (size varying depending on the size of dowels)

- Wood Glue

- Mineral spirits (White spirits)

- Danish Oil


- Small log about 8cm in diameter (3 1/8") and 50cm long (19 11/16") ( I used ash)

- A board 12cm X 80cm (4 3/4" X 31 1/2") (I used pine)

- A straight tree branch about 3cm in diameter (1 3/16") and 24cm long (9 7/16")

- A crooked tree branch about 3cm in diameter (1 3/16") and 15 cm long (5 15/16") (I used hazel)

- Hardwood for dowels (I used sapele)

Step 2: Preparing the Log and Cutting Out the Rebate

I had a chunky little ash log from a local woodland and started by cutting it 50cm (19 11/16") long. Clamping it into my vice I slowly peeled away the layers of bark with a spokeshave, probably one of the most satisfying moments of this build! With the surface clean I was then able to mark out where the rebate goes, I measured 5cm (2") in from each end and free handed the lines. This left a 40cm (15 3/4") section drawn on and ready to be cut out.

I clamped the log to my bench and placed a bevel gauge at the side of the log to help me keep in line with the angle I wanted for the back of the shelf. This angle is really dependent on your own particular design, I just moved the gauge until it was where I wanted it. I then proceeded to cut the chisel into the lines, peeling away the layers slowly until I had created a right angled bevel along the whole 40cm.

Step 3: Making and Attaching the Legs

Cut the straight branch in half, making 2 lengths of 12cm (4 3/4") long. Planing one side of the branches will give a flat surface for them to rest onto a desktop or table top comfortably. Rest the legs on a known flat surface and position the log on top where you'd like it to be when finished. Keep it in the same place whilst you use a pencil to mark the curves of the branches on both sides and then connect the lines to mark out two channels as shown above. Use a straight chisel down the sides, a gouge to take out the material for the curve and finally a drill and 4 screws to attach the legs in place.

Step 4: Cutting and Fitting the Shelf

Take the board and cut it into two equal parts measuring 12cm X 40cm (4 3/4" X 15 3/4"). Position the bottom part onto the log and drill three pilot holes along the back of it so that when the back part of the shelf is attached, it will hide the screws.

Place the back part of the shelf into place and mark three holes for the dowels, hold the shelf in firmly or clamp and drill the holes making sure not to let the drill bit come out of the other side. Dab a small amount of glue on each dowel and firmly but carefully tap them into the holes until it feels as if they have become one with the shelf. Leave to dry overnight.

Step 5: Cutting and Attaching the Book Ends

Take the crooked branch and cut it along its length to make two matching pieces as shown above. This can be rather tricky to keep hold of in the vice to repeated repositioning may need to take place. Once you have the two pieces make sure they are nice and flat on their flat sides. You can achieve this by using a knife, plane or a sander.

Line the bookends up on either side and drill the holes for the dowels through them, making sure that you have both sides in the same position and keeping your dowel holes to the centre of the wood. Once again add a little bit of glue to each dowel and carefully tap them in. Leave to dry overnight.

Step 6: Cutting the Dowel Ends and Sanding

After they dowels have dried for a day you can cut them off with a small saw or knife. I used a knife to finish off the dowels in the bookends to give them more of a carved look. I then finished off with some sanding, starting with 240 grit and moving up to 800 grit.

Step 7: Finishing and Use

Mix a small batch of Danish oil and mineral/white spirits to a ratio of 1:1 and apply to the wood using a lint free cloth. For some of the harder to reach areas it might be a good idea to use a brush. I find this ratio of Danish oil to spirits allows me to apply coats more often, soaks into the wood more and generally turns out smoother.

I hope the bride enjoys her gift and I hope you guys enjoyed checking out this instructable!

Happy building!



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    8 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Your work is amazing, i'm a fan of yours. Please keep up the good work and quality videos!

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Ah thanks a lot Ivan, that really means a lot. I will keep it up!