Introduction: The BOOKSHELF

If you need the cheapest bookshelf ever, for a big amount of books, try this one out.

This may look like any other bookshelf, but there are a few things about it that makes it superspecial.

  • The design is reduced to a single symmetrical element which is used for vertical and horizontal segments. The dimensions are the results of the material size, without any leftovers.
  • Each element is around 15cm wide with the 5cm deep slots, every 30cm. When connected the depth of the finished bookshelf is around 20cm. Vertical segments are set against the wall, and the horizontals are detached thus allowing the air flow behind the books.
  • The number and distance between vertical segments allow the material to be thinner = cheaper, retaining the strenght.
  • It is made with only one tool - circular saw.
  • From only 2 OSB (Oriented Strand Board) 250x125cm just 10mm thick, you get a 2,5x2,5m bookshelf.
  • It is cheaper than BILLY bookcase from IKEA which you need 3 pcs to get the same bookcase size (3x70=210$), OSB 2x12,5=25$

It is possible to change the dimensions depending on your space, it can be wider, it can be higher, it can follow your sloped roof...

Let's start:

Step 1: Tools and Materials You Need

The only real tool you need is the circular saw, but here is the complete list.

Tools you need:

  • pencil
  • steel square
  • measuring tape
  • circular saw
  • stands
  • chisel
  • clamps

Materials you nead:

for the bookshelf 2,5m x 2,5m

  • OSB (oriented strand board) 2pcs (1cm x 125cm x 250cm // 7/16 in. x 48 in. x 8ft.)
  • 1 in. Zinc-Plated Corner Brace 4pcs

for the jig

  • a piece of wood beam (5cm x 7cm x 30cm // 2in. x 4in. x 1ft.)
  • a piece of some thin material (3mm x 5cm x 35cm // 1/8 in. x 2in. x 1ft.)
  • a few nails or screws

Step 2: Cutting Into Strips

Fasten together both OSB with clamps, so that you have to measure and cut only once.

Divide and than cut each board onto 8 equal strips to get 16 pcs. The width of the strips depends on the thickness of your saw blade and the width of your board (in this case 153mm).

Step 3: Cutting the Slots

Fasten all the 16 pcs of OSB strips together with clamps.

Now you need to make 10mm wide slots, 5cm deep (which is the depth of the saw blade).

Make 2 marks 7mm apart, every 303mm, throughout the strips.

To make it easier and more accurate make a simple jig from the wood beam and the other piece of thin wood as showed on the picture.

Cut the slots in 3 passes, and clean the bottoms of the slots with chisel if needed.

Step 4: Assemble the Bookshelf

You need 2 persons to assemble the bookshelf. Start by leaning all the vertical segments on the desired wall approximatelly on their place. One person holds 2 verticals upright and the other joins the highest and lowest horizontals. After that you connect all the verticals, and in the end the horizontals.

Fix th ebookshelf to the wall with 4 1in. Steel Zinc-Plated Corner Brace.

Step 5: How It Looks Like With Different Books

Here are 3 bookshelves that we made for 3 different walls with diffent books.

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23 Discussions

Hello— I love the simplicity of this Instructable and thinking I'll make one out of 1/2" plywood. I have one question though — it seems like all of the examples are in an enclosed space or nook where there are vertical walls on either side to brace the bookshelf.

Has anyone tried building this as a free-standing bookshelf, with no walls supporting on the sides? I'm not sure how sturdy it would be in that case.

1 reply

I have recently made a shelf for Ikea SAMLA BOX (39/28/14CM or two 28/20/14) for my workshop and mounted it on a part of a wall with just 5 Steel Zinc-Plated Corner Braces on the upper part, and it is super sturdy.


Wow! I'm getting to it right now. Thanks!


1 year ago

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this instructable !!! I am so going to make this for my room...not only does it hold a plethora of books, but it looks like it is completely up to the task of withstanding the weight of said books !!

I do have a question tho... I do not have a length of wall for a good sized one, I have 2 small walls on each side of a window...but I do also have a piece of wall that is a corner from one portion of the wall ... is there a way to make this go to the corner and then turn 90 degrees to create an "L" shape? if so, how would I connect them at the corner ?
Thank you so very much for sharing your work, I am beyond grateful !!

2 replies

Fretka, the corner can be done by cutting the horizontals at 45degree angle like in the picture attached, but like any corners it is not really useful for books, maybe it's better left empty....or a figurine....

hope it helps.

corner bookshelf.jpg

thank you kofatorlab ! it indeed does help. I figured it would be a nice place to display my antique teacups, while the whole will look cohesive. I appreciate your replying so quickly. Cheers !!

Thank you guys for your comments.

The idea behind the material chosen (OSB) was to find the cheapest material there is, because the books that we had to organize had no value to us - they are my uncles' books that even he does not want any more, but can't be thrown away. So we didn't want to spend more money than necessary. But we loved the first one so we did the other two shelves for our books - but didn't question the material.

I agree that the plywood has a nicer look, but the main point is that the material chosen can be very thin - for plywood even less than 10mm - 3/8 in.


"OSB is considered by many to be a “green” building material because it can be made from smaller-diameter trees, such as poplars, that are often farmed. Plywood production, by contrast, requires larger-diameter trees from old-growth forests."


1 reply

I did not know that. Thanks for the info 'MichaelG598' :-)

I completely agree with "JerryS42" and wish to thank you for the detailed instructable and the simplicity of the design. This is what the site is all about.

For me, this is what this website is about; innovative, affordable, practical, and actually doable. All presented in a comprehensive way. Great instructable.

Nice project with minimum tools.

finally, shelving that DOES the JOB, looks GREAT, & is AFFORDABLE! fantastic job!! glad to see i'm not the only female going to try it. you've got my vote, & it has nothing to do with you looking like ryan cartwright. :^D

my ex-co-worker, rob, had the lower half of a female mannequin that he told me was mounted to the wall by its waist over his bed. x^)

very nice. I have made things with slotted boards before but this is one of the nicest shelves I have seen and I do not know why I never thought of ganging them together to cut them with a circular saw like that before.

thinking of some out of 1/2" birch ply with a clear finish.

uncle frogy


1 year ago

Clever design, but I have to agree with GeeB6. Spend a few extra bucks for a decent grade of plywood and skip the OSB. Your health will thank you!


1 year ago

Osb off gasses way too much. Not good for your health unless covered.

Hello RuthS1:

Take the centimeters and divide by 2.54 will equal inches.

Take the millimeters and divide by 25.4 will equal inches.

The strips are about 6" wide and the slots are 2" deep. The width of the slots will need to be adjusted to the OSB thickness and if you paint the boards first.

Also you may be buying OSB in the USA and it will be 48" x 96", so you will need to work out new dimensions anyway.

I've been making shelves like this for years. See:

Good luck, Carl.


1 year ago

Do you have these measurements inminches etc please?
I would love to try this ,but can't figure out the centimeters and so on.
Also can it be painted?