In this post, I’m sharing with you how to build your own DIY library bookshelf with a built in desk!
Welcome to my new home office space! I’ve wanted a legit library bookshelf desk/home office space for YEARS and I finally got around to building one that I’m SO excited to share with you. And…obviously excited to work at 😉
This project is both a built in “library”–basically, a wall of shelves–plus a desk and it could even be used as an entertainment center if you wanted.
It’s complete with lights, a rolling ladder, storage, and plenty of display space.
The best part from the DIYers perspective?? It’s built in sections to make it easy to build, set up, and install! There is a lot of info to cover here, so let’s dive right in.
I’m sharing the video of the build process here and the tutorial with printable plans below:
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Grab the printable plans for this DIY Library Bookshelf with Desk here:
- (7) sheets ¾″ plywood
- (½) sheet ¼″ plywood
- (7) 1x3x8 boards
- (2) 1x6x8 boards
- (3) 1x4x8 boards (preferably a hardwood–for ladder)
- 18′ crown molding (3 ⅝″ used here, but you can use other sizes if needed/desired)
- 12′ half round molding or lattice trim (optional)
- (4) pair 16″ drawer slides
- 1 ¼″ pocket hole screws
- 1 ¼″, 2″, and 2 ½″ wood screws
- Wood Glue
- Edge Banding–¾″ and 1 ½″ wide
- (4) handles/knobs for drawers
- 2″ screws & washers (for securing ladder to rollers)
- Wood Putty/Filler
- 12′ barn door hardware kit
- Sconce Lights
- Shelf pins
Some notes about the build:
This bookshelf/desk project was made to fit floor to ceiling for 8 ft tall ceilings. The tall bookshelves are made 94″ tall to allow for room to tilt it upright once moved inside.
The ~2″ space between the top of the shelves and the ceiling will be covered with crown molding once installed.
If your ceiling is higher, than 8 foot, you’ll have some open space above the shelves…which is okay. But if your ceiling is lower than 8 ft, you’ll need to adjust the height here for it to fit.
Overall dimensions for the library bookshelf are approx. 8′ tall, 13′ 5″ wide, and about 20″ deep–not including the ladder.
You will need to remove and replace OR cut out the sections of baseboard necessary for these pieces to fit flush up against the wall. These cabinets/shelves need to be secured to the wall, so the baseboards will have to be out of the way.
The face frames where the top and middle shelves meet together are intentionally made thinner so that when put together, it appears (visually) like a 1×3. For these thin pieces, I just ripped 1x3s down the middle to make ~1 ¼″ wide strips.
This Project is Built in Sections:
Check out the video above to see the 3D diagram breakdown for how the various pieces of this project came together, but note that the entire project was built in separate pieces then assembled together as one unit.
First, I built the tall outside bookshelves, then the desk cabinets with drawers, the countertop, the middle shelf section that sits on top of the desk, and once it was all put together, I added the crown molding, the lights and the ladder.
Step 1: Assemble Tall DIY Library Bookshelves
The printable library bookshelf and desk plans contain the cut diagrams and all the dimensions for this project. I used my circular saw and cutting guides to break down my plywood sheets into more manageable pieces to begin working.
In order to be able to secure these cabinets to the wall later, I added a scrap piece at the top between the side panels as well.
Then, I used my Kreg shelf pin jig to drill shelf pin holes up and down both sides of both shelves. Using shelf pins allows me to be able to install adjustable shelves.
You simply place a pin in the holes you drilled using the jig, and rest your shelves on top. Check out more information on shelf pins and shelf pin jigs in this post.
Step 2: Add Face Frame to Tall Shelves
Now, these tall shelves will butt up next to the middle shelves. For design/visual purposes, I didn’t want where they came together to have a wider face frame than everywhere else.
So instead of using full 1x3s where they will meet, I ripped 1x3s in half for these pieces of the face frames.
I used 1x6s for the top and bottom, 1x3s for the outside and the middle and the 1 ¼″ wide (half of a 1×3) strip for the inside piece of the face frame.
I assembled the face frames using wood glue and pocket holes and screws, then glued and nailed them onto the fronts. I used 1 ¼″ finish nails, but brad nails would be fine, too.
Step 3: Build Desk Cabinets
For now, I set the shelves aside and began putting together these basic desk cabinets.
If you’ve seen my cabinet building tutorial or video, this is basically that exact same process. I assembled two basic plywood cabinets using pocket holes and screws and instead of cutting out a toe kick, I just added a toe kick piece underneath the bottom panel.
Then, I assembled the drawer boxes to fit and installed them. All of the drawer slide and box dimensions can be found in the plans here. I also have a detailed tutorial for how to measure for, build and install drawer boxes here.
Once the drawer boxes were in, I cut, edge banded and installed inset drawer fronts using screws from the inside to secure them.
As a helpful tip–add some painters tape on the drawers OR go ahead and add your knobs or handles so that you have a way to open them later after you add the countertop.
Step 4: Assemble Desk Countertop
I wanted this desk top to be a little thicker than just ¾″, but I wasn’t in the mood to glue together a solid wood panel (those are a pain) and I didn’t want to waste more plywood by adding another full layer.
So I “cheated” and just used some scraps glued onto the bottom side of the plywood top around the edges to “thicken” it up.
Step 5: Assemble Middle Shelf Section
I set the desk cabinets and countertop aside for now to finish up the last big piece of the project–the middle shelf section.
Again, all the dimensions can be found in the plans, but I assembled a simple plywood shelf using pocket holes and screws just like I did the tall bookshelves, except this one didn’t have a bottom and it was shorter since it’ll be sitting on top of the desk.
This was so large, I needed to assemble it on the floor haha.
Notice also that I drilled shelf pin holes in the bottom parts of the smaller sections. These spaces will have shelves installed, but the wider middle section will be where the computer goes, so it didn’t need any additional shelves–unless you want to add some.
When you build it yourself, you can customize how you wish 🙂 haha!
Step 6: Add Face Frame to Middle Section
Just like the face frame for the tall shelves, I assembled the face frame here using 1x6s at the top, 1x3s in the middle and used the 1×3 ripped in half (1 ¼″ wide strips) for the outside where this will butt up to the tall shelves.
I assembled this face frame using wood glue and pocket holes and screws.
Then, I glued and nailed it onto the front just like I did with the tall bookshelves. I used 1 ¼″ finish nails, but brad nails would be fine, too.
Step 7: Finish Before Assembly
Now, of course, you can totally finish this after assembling, but I found it easiest to finish prior to putting all the pieces together since I painted some parts and left some parts natural wood.
I puttied and sanded all joints and nail holes, then applied primer and paint to the outsides of the tall bookshelves and to all of the face frames.
RELATED: How to finish raw wood furniture
I chose to just apply a simple clear poly to the desk cabinets–but you could also stain or paint those as well.
Step 8: Assemble Library Bookshelf and Desk
Once the finish was dry, I installed the pieces and secured them to the wall.
Like I mentioned earlier, the baseboards need to be removed or cut out for these parts to sit flush against the wall. I removed mine because I didn’t like them to begin with and I’ll replace them later. But if you didn’t want to completely remove, you could just cut out the sections where these shelves will go.
First, I secured the desk cabinets into the wall studs so that they were the exact width of the countertop end to end.
Then, I secured the countertop in place through the top supports in these cabinets. Obviously the drawers had to be pulled out to access it.
Then, I butted the tall cabinets up to the desk and against the wall and screwed them together.
And finally, I placed the middle section on top of the desk and screwed it into the tall cabinets. I also used a few screws through the bottom side of the countertop up into the middle section vertical pieces to secure them from moving.
After all the pieces were in place and secured together, I used some 2 ½″ screws through the top supports in the tall cabinets to secure them to the wall studs.
One way or another, I wanted everything screwed together and secured to the wall haha.
Step 9: Add Trim to Library Bookshelf
Now that everything is in place, I finished off the main part of the build by adding crown molding around the top. You can check out more information about installing crown molding in this video.
Now, I tried to putty and sand over the seam where the tall bookshelf met the middle section, but I just wasn’t happy with the result and I could still see the seam a little.
So this part is totally optional, but I added some half round trim over the seams to hide them. You could also use some thin lattice trim or something else, but I had some half round handy and it blended in fairly well after it was painted to match.
Then, I came back and cut to fit my new baseboards around the shelf as needed. I just butted the baseboards up to the sides of the shelves and added one in between the desk cabinets.
I used painted 1x6s for my baseboards to keep things simple.
Step 10: Add Adjustable Shelves
I cut and installed my shelves where I wanted in each bookcase using shelf pins.
As a rule of thumb, when using shelf pins to install adjustable shelves, I like to cut my shelves about ¼″ smaller than the overall opening so I have some wiggle room to place them in, take them out, or move them around.
You can install as many or as few shelves as you wish.
Step 11: Add Rolling Library Bookshelf Ladder
This part is also optional, but how cool is the ladder part of this project?!
I looked for rolling ladder hardware online for this, but the prices I found were a little steep. I didn’t see a big difference between rolling ladder hardware and rolling door hardware–except for the price.
So I actually used rolling door hardware for this and it worked great!
I ordered this 12′ kit and installed the rail according to the included instructions into the bookshelf so that the screws went through the middle of the plywood shelves behind the face frame.
The rail connects together in the middle here, so that’s why it looks like it’s bent–I just haven’t got the left side screwed in yet haha.
For the ladder, I built it using 1×4 oak. Pine would have probably been fine, but I thought a hardwood might be better here for using as a ladder so I went with oak.
I cut the ends of the ladder sides with a 10 degree miter so it would lean a little and used a speed square to mark and cut off the top back corner to give me somewhere to mount the rollers (see plans for diagrams and dimensions).
Then, I used wood screws to attach the rungs between the sides making sure to keep them parallel to the 10 degree ends. Using a scrap block (shown below) helps keep rungs evenly spaced and parallel.
To install the ladder–since this was sliding barn door hardware and not rolling ladder hardware–I kind of positioned the rollers straight up and down on the track.
I ensured the ladder was flat on the ground, then clamped the roller to the ladder in that position.
I lifted the ladder off the rail and used 2″ screws with washers to secure the roller to the back edge in that position. Then I repeated for the second roller.
I didn’t add any wheels on the bottom of the ladder because they were pretty pricey and I didn’t like how any of the ones I saw online looked.
The ladder is fairly lightweight and glides really easily, so I just lift it out a little and slide it where needed, then set it back down. You could add some felt pads to the bottom to slide easier, too, if you wanted. Or, you can add wheels if you’d rather.
Step 12: Add Lights to Library Bookshelf
The lights are another optional step, but all these optional steps really add a lot to the project, so I like them haha.
I bought a pair of plug in sconce lights and just used some wood screws to screw them into the top 1×6 part of the face frame. The hardware that comes with the lights won’t work for this application.
I used these plug in style lights so that I could drill holes into the plywood panels of the bookshelves and run the wires behind the face frames so they’re hidden. Then, I just plugged them into an extension cord in the middle at the top and ran it down to an outlet to plug them in.
I discuss this in more detail in the video, but at this point, it’s ready for filling up and getting to work!
I am SOOOO excited about how this home office project turned out and so ready to get to work here at my very own legit home office station.
Although I don’t have a ton of books, I do plan to add to my collection now that I have such a fun place to store and display them.
I really hope you guys enjoyed this library bookshelf and desk build as much as I did and I hope it’s inspired you to set up and enjoy your own office space.
I’m at my computer A LOT editing videos and content, so I really wanted an enjoyable place to spend that time.
PS How cute is Lucy’s black and white picture above my desk–I tell people when I think about quitting, I look up and remember why I keep working HAHA! Just kidding–kind of.
I know this was a lot of info to cover on a really big project, so be sure to check out the video for more information and to watch the whole process and grab the printable plans for all the dimensions and diagrams as well.
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Until next time, friends, happy building! 🙂