How to Build Library Shelving for Your Home

What You'll Need
8 each 1-inch by 10-inch x 96-inch lumber (shelf sides)
1-inch by 2-inch lumber (cleats)
Table saw
Dado blade
Jointer (optional)
Planer (optional)
Trim (baseboard and crown molding optional)
Orbital sander (with 120-grit and 220-grit sandpaper)
Clean rags
Natural bristle paintbrush

An elegant way to store your book collection is to construct modular library shelving. By fabricating individual modules, you can outfit any room with the required number of units to store all of your books. Placing 1 module of library shelving in your kitchen may be adequate to display your cookbooks. You may need several 48-inch library shelving modules to span a spare room wall to create an at-home library.


Step 1 - Cut Uprights & Shelves

Rip (cut with grain) a 1 1/2-inch strip from each 1-inch by 10-inch piece of lumber. From 1 piece of lumber, rip a piece wide enough to accommodate the baseboard, plus 1/2 inch, and 1 length to accommodate the crown molding plus 1/2 inch. Cut the just ripped lumber (8-inch wide pieces) to 24 inches long to form 12 library shelving planks. Cut the sides and center uprights to 81 inches long and the top piece to 48 inches long. Smooth the sawn edge of all pieces just cut with a jointer.

Step 2 - Prepare Uprights to Receive Shelves

With the dado blade on the table saw, cut dados (grooves) into the inside face of both side uprights, and on both faces of the center upright. Be certain that the dados are placed identical in all 3 uprights.

Step 3 - Construct Bookcase

Construct box with the outside upright pieces and the top and bottom shelves (shelves are set between the uprights). Connect with glue and 1-inch wood screws. Attach the center upright through the top and bottom shelves with glue and wood screws. Wipe any excess glue off wood with damp rag. Check assembly for square.

Step 4 - Fabricate and Install Shelves

Each 8-inch by 24-inch shelf (Step 1) will have a 1-inch by 2-inch piece of lumber nailed to the back bottom edge to attach to the wall (cleat). The cleat is to set flush with the back edge of the shelf, such that the 2-inch side of the cleat will be nailed into the wall. Slide shelves into the assembled bookcase (Step 3) from the back of the assembly. Glue shelves in place. Wipe excess glue off with damp rag.

Step 5 - Finish Face of Bookcase

Cut 1 1/2-inch ripped lumber to lengths as needed to trim out each shelf and all uprights. The trim not only provides a finished look, it will also add strength to the unit. Glue and nail in place with #8 finish nails. Countersink nails below surface. Fill all holes with wood putty, sand surface smooth and wipe with tack cloth. Stain and seal the library shelving as desired, sanding between coats and allowing final coat to dry for 24 hours.

Step 6 - Install Library Shelving

Set assembled bookcase against wall. Attach cleats on each shelf to wall studs with wood screws. If you cannot locate attachment at a stud, use drywall anchors. Attach baseboard and crown molding, with finish nails, if desired. It is recommended that when you finish the bookcase, do the molding at same time prior to installation of the library shelving.