The Mom Saga Continues…How to Build a Bookshelf

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

My mom just discovered Restoration Hardware.  As a side note, she pronounces “restoration” like “registration” so at first, it was a little difficult to know what she was talking about.  Registration Hardware?? Mom, I just don’t get it.  And then we spent 20 minutes over the phone explaining how to send me a hyperlink via email to what she was talking about.


OHHHHH Restoration Hardware. Why didn’t you say so??


So anyway, she’s been looking at their furniture and you know what that means??  More projects for me.  (Because no one in our family actually BUYS furniture anymore…that’s my job 🙂 )


If you’ve been around for a couple months, you may remember that back this fall, Mom’s projects kind of took over the blog.  First, there was the dining bench, then the built ins, then I upholstered the bench, then I built a table for the built ins.


Okay, well I made a statement that after the table, that that was probably not the end…there would be more projects.  Thankfully, I did not disappoint, and here is yet another “mom project.” This time, a bookshelf for the living room.


I made her a DIY bookshelf to display all her random trinkets and pictures of her amazingly beautiful daughters (me and my sister, of course).  And I’m going to show you how to make one for yourself…so you can use it to display pictures of me on it too.  Because that’s totally not weird.


This post was sponsored by Obsorne Wood Products.  All opinions are my own.  This post also contains affiliate links for your convenience.  If you purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  This helps pay for this site so the content stays free.  Thank you for supporting this site and the brands that support this site.  Please see disclosure policy for more information.

Materials needed:

1 sheet 3/4″ plywood

1 sheet 1/4″ plywood

(5) 1x3x8

(2) 1x2x8

crown molding

cove molding

4 cabinet feet (I used part #4003 from Osborne Wood)

4 screw dowels

1 1/4″ pocket hole screws

Shelf pins

Tools needed:

Drill and bits

Circular saw (or table saw)

Kreg Rip Cut (optional, but helpful to rip plywood)

Miter or chop saw

Nail gun

Kreg Pocket Hole Jig

Kreg Shelf Pin Jig

Step 1:  Build the carcass for the bookshelf

First, I used my Kreg Rip Cut and circular saw to rip my sheet of 3/4″ plywood into two 16″ wide strips (save the leftover for the shelves later).  Then I cut the two strips into pieces 30″ long and 66″ long.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

I used my pocket hole jig to drill pocket holes in the ends of the 30″ pieces.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

Then I screwed the four pieces together with the 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws so that I had a “box” like shown below.  NOTE: the bottom was screwed in so that the top of the bottom shelf is 2 1/2″ from the edge of the plywood.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

I cut a piece of 1/4″ plywood from the sheet and nailed it onto the back (as shown above).  And there you have a bookshelf carcass.  Side note: I love building cabinets because I like to be able to say the word “carcass” as often as possible.  Try it 🙂 It’s fun.

Step 2: Add trim to the sides of the bookshelf

I nailed 1x2s and 1x3s onto the sides for trim.  This part is optional, but adds a whole lot of character to the piece.  Everything was 1x3s except the piece on the front.  I made this a 1×2 because the face frame will add some extra width later.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

Then I lined the “boxes” with cove molding.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

I built a face frame for the front and screwed it together with pocket holes and screws.  The overall frame dimensions should be 66″x 33″ to cover the entire front.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

I nailed this piece onto the front and then added cove molding around the bottom and crown molding around the top.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

Step 3: Add the feet

I added feet to the bottom for a little extra interest.  I love these feet from Osborne Wood Products.  They are so helpful and they will even add the screw dowels for you (be sure to ask for this) so all you have to do is screw them in!


I predrilled a hole into the plywood bottom on all four corners of the piece.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

Then I screwed the feet into the hole.  Since the screws were already in the feet, it made it super easy.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

How to Build a DIY BookshelfHow to Build a DIY Bookshelf

And now, it’s almost done!!! Deep breath everybody!!

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

Step 4: Add shelves

I used a shelf pin jig to drill holes in the sides to make the shelves adjustable.  I know my mom is even more indecisive than me (where do you think I got it from??), so I thought it would be good to allow the shelves to move.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

So remember that leftover piece of 3/4″ plywood from step 1?  I ripped it to 15″ wide, then cut it into three pieces about 29 3/4″ long for the shelves.  You could add edge banding to the front.  I used thin pieces of wood I had as scraps instead…it’s all the same haha.


I put shelf pins in and placed the shelves where I thought they looked good.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

Step 5: Finish

As with everything, putty, caulk, sand as needed.  Then paint and/or stain.  I stained the shelves and mom painted the piece.  We disagreed about the finish.  I said stained shelves and navy cabinet.  Mom said white distressed cabinet.  We compromised and ended up with this:

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

Dad added a light to the top.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

But I like it without the light.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

And I am glad she went with the stained shelves.

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

And these feet??  Cute right??

How to Build a DIY Bookshelf

So what do you guys think?? Besides the fact she didn’t paint it navy like I suggested, I thought it looked pretty good in her space.  Oh and just in case you were wondering, I staged the shelf, so there aren’t any pictures in it of me…yet.  I need to print mom some big ones so you can’t miss me in one of those little 4x6s 🙂


So anyway, back to the bookshelf…what do you think?  Mom likes it, so my work here is done.  Until the next project… 🙂


If you love it, don’t forget to pin for later.  Oh and don’t forget to follow along on Instagram for sneak peeks of projects and other random shenanigans 🙂

How to Build a Bookshelf

Until next time, happy building 🙂

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12 Comment

  1. kristin howard
    January 30, 2017 at 9:44 am

    Shara: Another fantastic job. You have one lucky Mom! I love your dialogue almost as much as your work. Time to give up the Engineering. We want lessons!!

    1. Shara, Woodshop Diaries
      January 30, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks girl! I know, I’m slacking getting those lessons planned. I haven’t forgot though!! I have some fun things in the works this Spring 🙂

  2. Sarah
    January 30, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    It looks great! 🙂 What would you think of putting mirrors on the back/inside of the shelves to reflect light? It seems a little dark in the shelves. Maybe not for your mom, but if I were to give this a try? I have not built any furniture – yet – but I feel like I can someday, thanks to your wonderful blog 🙂

    1. Shara, Woodshop Diaries
      January 30, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      Thank you! Mirrors in the back would be a good idea! It would help if the shelf was actually in an area where it might get some natural light, too. Where she had it placed, it is facing away from the window and in a dark corner. It would also help if it was painted a really light color, like white. But, your idea of mirrors sounds like a good one!

  3. Adil Shezad
    March 15, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Being a literature student, I have a fair collection of books. I always wanted to create a decent bookshelf. Now I am able to create it to keep my books safe and also to decorate my bedroom with a great bookshelf.

    1. Shara, Woodshop Diaries
      March 16, 2017 at 7:05 am

      It’s awesome to hear you liked the project!! Good luck on building your own. I’d love to see it when you get finished! 🙂

  4. Ashley
    April 19, 2017 at 10:07 am

    This is a lovely book shelf!

    I just wanted to ask a question though. I built it last week and have found that it’s so wobbly. Did you add corner brackets (underneath the very bottom shelf) or anything else for support?

    Also, do you have any tips for cutting the crown molding? (That’s the only part I have yet to do)


    1. Shara, Woodshop Diaries
      April 19, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Ashley!! So glad to hear you built your own!! I did not add any brackets. Mine sat flat on the floor, but was a little top heavy since it’s so tall. But I didn’t have any trouble with it wobbling. Have you tried felt pads under the feet as maybe one corner got a little higher than the others?? I do not have a tutorial (yet) on cutting crown molding, but there are TONS of videos on YouTube that can show you better than I could tell you. Basically, to cut crown molding, you have to flip it upside down on your miter saw and tilt it so that the flat parts that normally rest on the wall and the ceiling (if you were installing it along a ceiling) are sitting flat on your saw top and the backrest. Then you cut at a 45 degree angle. It will make better sense once you see a video. Just search Youtube for cutting crown molding and there are plenty of options to watch 🙂 Hope that helps!! If you have more questions, feel free to contact me!

      1. Ashley
        April 25, 2017 at 9:21 am


        I think I should have worded that differently. The book shelf kind of sways, if that makes more sense. I checked to make sure my PH screws were properly screwed in. I’ve never had this happen with pocket hole joinery before, so I’m kind of stumped.

        I thought maybe it would get better as the 1×3’s and 1×2’s and the face were added, but it didn’t.

        I’m going to run some 2×4 support slats underneath and see if that helps.

        Thanks for the awesome tutorial!

        1. Shara, Woodshop Diaries
          April 28, 2017 at 8:05 am

          Hey Ashley, so it’s more like it’s not square, not necessarily wobbly?? Did you add the backing? Usually you can help square things up with a backing. Or maybe I am still misunderstanding. Hopefully you got it figured out already!

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