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How to Build a Bookcase

If you can read, you can build a bookcase. These instructions are for a 30-inch high, 28-inch wide, 11 1/4-inch deep bookcase.


  • Step 1: Glue the frame Using a generous layer of wood glue, affix each of the 28 1/2-inch pieces to both ends of the 28-inch pieces so the planks form a rectangle with the shorter pieces on the top and bottom. Use the bar clamps to hold the pieces in place.
  • TIP: Put pieces of scrap wood between the clamps' grips and the wood to avoid damaging the bookcase.
  • Step 2: Drill holes Mark the four corners of the top and bottom planks, about an inch in from the back and face of the frame, and 3/8 of an inch in from the sides. Using a drill bit that's slightly smaller than the diameter of your 1½-inch wood screws, drill eight holes on the marks.
  • Step 3: Attach the boards Screw the wood screws into the holes using your drill's screwdriver attachment or a manual screwdriver. Wipe away excess glue with a damp rag and let the glue dry over night.
  • Step 4: Decide shelf placement Decide on shelf placement. Take the clamps off and stand the bookcase upright. Measure and mark where the shelves should go on the bookcase. Starting with the left side, make a straight pencil line exactly where you want the first shelf to go. Repeat on other side of bookcase.
  • TIP: Measure your tallest book to decide where to place your shelves.
  • Step 5: Mark a spot Start with the top shelf. Mark a spot on the inside left side of the bookcase, 2 inches in from the front of the bookcase and 2 inches in from the back, directly below the line you've marked in pencil. This is where two of the L-brackets will go. Repeat on the right side of the bookcase.
  • Step 6: Install brackets Hold an L-bracket upside down, and mark where to drill. Securely install the L-brackets with the ½-inch screws. Repeat with the other side. Then, guide the top shelf onto the L-brackets.
  • TIP: Use the level to make sure the L-brackets are aligned on either side of the shelf.
  • Step 7: Add shelves Add another set of four L-brackets for the other shelf. Then, guide the bottom shelf onto the L-brackets.
  • TIP: Glue and screw the shelves into place for added stability.
  • Step 8: Stain it Apply the wood stain with a brush, and allow it to penetrate for five for 10 minutes. Remove the excess with a clean rag. Let it dry for at least six hours, and apply a second coat. When that dries, apply a coat of polyurethane. Allow to dry for 12 hours.
  • Step 9: Sand and finish Lightly sand the bookshelf. Then apply a second coat of clear finish and let it dry.
  • Step 10: Add the books Choose a spot against a wall for the shelf, add your books, and step back and admire your handiwork!
  • FACT: The Eagle Scouts offer a woodwork merit badge.

You Will Need

  • Planed pine
  • cut to these specifications:
  • 2 1 x 12 x 28 u00bd"
  • 2 1 x 12 x 28"
  • 2 1 x 12 x 26u00bd"
  • Wood glue
  • 2 bar clamps
  • Scrap wood
  • Damp rag
  • Drill and drill bits
  • 8 1 u00bd" wood screws
  • 8 1u00bd" L-brackets
  • 16 u00bd" wood screws
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Level
  • Wood stain
  • a brush
  • and clean rags
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Polyurethane finish
  • Screwdriver (optional)

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