Apartment Living BlogDiy › A By-the-Book Guide to Making Your Own DIY Bookshelf

Books are more than just collections of words on a page; they’re display-worthy experiences that we want to share with others. Much like vacation photos or cherished mementos of times remembered, books deserve a place where they can be shown off. And what better way to present your book collection to the world than with a stylish, homemade bookshelf? A DIY bookshelf may be the perfect addition to any bedroom, living room, den, study, or home office, and may be just what you need to really tie your apartment-design together. However, before you can flaunt your personal home library, you’ll need to have an in depth understanding of the ‘do’ in ‘do-it-yourself.’ So, to help get you started (and finished) on the right foot, we’d like to share with you this step-by-step guide to building your own bookshelf.

Step 1: Setup your workshop

One of the great things about building your own furniture is that you don’t necessarily need a dedicated ‘workshop’ to get the task done. As long as you have the right tools, and a large enough space to complete the project safely, you’re in business. For this project, you might consider building your bookcase right in the room in which it will be going, so that you don’t have to move it too far once it’s completed. Just make sure that your work area is properly organized, so that you don’t have trouble locating the right equipment when you need it. For ease of cleanup you can use an old bedsheet or tarp to lay on the floor to protect it as well as catch all of the wood shavings.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • (3) 8′ 1×8 #2 and better pine board
  • (2) 12′ 1×4 #2 and better pine board
  • (12) 9-⅜” long pieces of 1/4-20 all-thread rod (approximately 13′)
  • (24) 1-¼” fender washers
  • (24) ¼-20 ‘acorn’ nuts or ‘cap’ nuts
  • (1) ¼-20 Wingnut

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  • Hand or power saw for wood (alternatively, your can often have these items cut for you at the local lumberyard or hardware store)
  • Hand or power saw for metal (alternatively, your can often have these items cut for you at the local lumberyard or hardware store)
  • Tape measure
  • Square
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • ⁹/₃₂” drill bit for wood
  • A ⁷/₁₆” wrench or socket and driver.
  • Plyers
  • Sandpaper/power sander (optional)
  • Wood stain
  • Old rag

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Step 2: Cut your wood

Your best bet is to get all of your cutting done before you start putting anything together. You may be able to have the employees at your local hardware store do the initial cutting for you, or you can do it yourself.

  • Measure very carefully. This particular design results in very little waste, so be careful to make precise cuts, or you might end up having to start over with new materials.
  • Use a tape measure to mark off the 1×8 boards, and then carefully cut them down to 4’ exactly. You should end up with six total.
  • Use a tape measure to mark off the 1×4 boards, and then carefully cut them down to 5’3” exactly. You should end up with four total.

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  • Run the wingnut onto on the all-thread rod. Cut the all-thread rod into 16 segments, 9-⅜” each. As you cut each section of the all-thread rod, remove the wingnut following the cut. Remove it over the cut end. This will partially repair the threads.

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Step 3: Drill some holes

  • Hook the end of the tape measure over the right-hand end of one of the 1×4 boards. Lay the board flat, and mark with a pencil at 1”, 13”, 25”, 37”, 49”, 61” along the board.
  • Use a square to carefully extend your marks in a straight line across the board. Along each of those lines, measure 1-¾” inches from the edge (this should be the very center of the line). Use a nail, awl, or center punch to create a small divot or impression in the wood. This will make it easier to keep the drill on course.

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  • Equip your power drill with a ⁹/₃₂” drill bit. At each of the four marked locations where you created divots, drill completely through the wood. Pay special attention to keeping the drill straight, so that you don’t end up with crooked holes.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining three 1×4 boards. To do this, lay the completed board directly on top of one of the other boards, making sure that the edges line up perfectly. Simply drill directly into the already-drilled holes (using clamps to prevent the boards from moving), and creating holes in the board underneath at the same points. You can use this same ‘template’ board to drill each of the other boards, ensuring that they remain uniform.

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Step 4: Make it look nice

If you’d like something nicer than an unfinished bookshelf, you can make everything look a bit more professional with a good sanding-job, and maybe some stain.

  • Gently sand all of the edges, making sure to remove any sharp or splintery areas.
  • Gently apply the stain, and allow it to sit for the recommended amount of time before proceeding.

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Step 5: Put it all together

  • Run cut lengths of the all-thread rod through the top and bottom holes on two pairs of 1x4s.
  • On either end of each all-thread rod, place a washer (rough side facing the wood) and a nut to secure the rod.
  • Place two shelves into position on top of the all-thread rods. Allow 2” to extend past the upright boards. Adjust the nuts until the uprights are snuggly clamping the shelves together.
  • Fill the remaining holes with all-thread, and attach nuts and washers (gently).
  • Thread the other shelves on top of the all-thread, down the length of the unit.
  • Using your hand (or perhaps a rubber mallet), snap the the shelves into place.
  • Tighten the nuts while pressing together on the individual shelves, so as to secure the unit against wobbling, and you’ll have a shelf that should be sturdy enough to handle whatever you give it, while still remaining light enough to be portable.

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For basic materials, this bookshelf shouldn’t cost you more than about $70, and could cost you significantly less. From start to finish, you should be able to finish the entire project easily in one afternoon.

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The most important thing to remember while working on any DIY project is this: Take things slowly. Measure multiple times before cutting or drilling, and never move on to the following steps before you’re sure that you’ve got everything where it needs to be. If you rush the project, fail to properly align connections, or attempt to ‘eye-ball’ certain steps, all that you’ll end up with is a pile of expensive wood scraps. Save yourself some time, money, and energy, and be cautious enough to ensure that you get your DIY bookshelf right on your first try. Also, whenever using power tools, be sure to to take all necessary safety precautions. A shelf isn’t worth risking your life over.

So, get those books out of the boxes, up off of the ground, and out of your storage space. A DIY bookshelf is an easy and elegant way to flaunt your knowledge—not just by showing off the books you’ve read, but also by demonstrating your impressive furniture-building skills.

About :

Hi! I’m Maria, formerly the Social Media & Content Marketing Manager for ForRent.com. I was part of a dream team that is dedicated to running this awesome blog along with ForRent.com's social channels. If I am not busy writing blogs and socially sharing, you can find me working out, drinking cappuccinos, stylizing my apartment and doing DIY projects!

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