How to Frame a Wall for Built-in Bookshelves

  • 4-12 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 250-500
What You'll Need
3/4-inch plywood sheets
Measuring tape
Table saw
Permanent marker

Built in bookcases add space to a home but built in bookshelves can also increase its overall value as built in bookshelves are a sought after design element. If your home lacks built in bookshelves you can add them yourself without having to spend too much money. The information in this article will show you how to frame out a wall to make it into built in bookshelves.

Step 1 - Measurements and Cutting

In order to make proper built in bookshelves you need to use an entire wall. Choose a wall that doesn't have a window in it. Built in bookshelves are best built on interior walls that do not contain windows or electrical sockets or switches. You can cut out the back of the built in bookcase to make room for outlets and switches if you are so inclined. When you have selected the wall you will have to measure its length and the height. The bookcase will take up this entire space.

Transfer these measurements to the plywood. This large section is going to be the back of the bookcase. The built in bookshelves will be eleven inches deep. You need at least two pieces of plywood as tall as the wall and eleven inches wide. Measure and cut out two pieces of plywood to the same depth and height minus an inch and a half.

If you want to create more than one divider you may do so by adding more sections of this size. Measure out shelves to the length of the wall minus 32 inches. Divide the height of the wall by twelve. This is how many shelves you can fit inside the built in bookcase. Measure and cut two pieces of plywood that are the length of the wall and eleven inches wide.

Step 2 - Assembling the Bookcase

Place the large back panel on the floor. Attach the two side panels with several nails. Attach the top and bottom pieces to the back piece. These are the last two pieces you cut in Step 1. You now have the basic frame. Carefully stand the unit up and measure 16 inches in from each side and place a divider at each mark.

Lay the bookcase down again on the floor. Measure from the bottom of the bookcase to the top and make a mark every 12 inches. Place a shelf at each of these and nail in place through the open section. Stand the bookcase up and nail the shelves in place through the back.

Step 3 - Finishing the Built-in Bookshelves

With all the shelves in place you can seal up the end open spaces with the pieces of plywood 16 inch wide pieces the same height. Position the bookcase flush against the wall. The top of the bookcase should be tight against the ceiling. Measure every 16 inches from the alcove placing several nails along the marks up and down. Paint the bookcase the same color as the wall.