How To Build Built-In Bookcases

A Built-in Bookcase can add a classic yet distinctive look to your home. A professional will charge a lot of money and may not provide the service exactly as you wish. The best way to have it done your way is to do it yourself. With some time and effort, you can have a beautiful built-in bookcase that is both attractive and functional.

You will need:

  • 3/4 inch thick plywood
  • beadboard
  • crown molding
  • wood screws
  • hinges
  • shelf pins
  • table or panel saw
  • paintable/stainable edge bending
  • square
  • drill
  • tape measure
  • glue
  • small hammer or finish nailer
  • finish nails

If you are new to the world of do-it-yourself, ask a sales associate to help you find these items.

What to do:

  • Determine the size of your bookcase.
  • Do not go deeper than 20 inches. If you decide to display items other than books you may want to go a bit deeper.
  • Stay at least 2 or 3 inches from the ceiling. You want to leave room for the crown. Any space over 30 inches wide will need more support.
  • Make a cutlist. Leave a 3 inch toebase. This will support the bookcase.
  • Make your cuts.
  • Sand every surface that will be visible. This includes your crown molding. Begin with 100 grit sand paper. Sand a second time using 120 grit sand paper. If possible use an orbital sander, this will save time.
  • Build the boxes. Attach sides then attach the top and bottom. You need at least one fixed shelf about halfway between the top and the bottom of the box. All other shelves are adjustable. Remember to make shelves at least 12 inches apart. This will make room for taller books.
  • Edgeband. Glue edgebanding to the front of the bookcase. Dry. Trim the edgebanding and wipe off any excess glue.
  • Attach the beadboard backs. If your bookcase is taller than the beadboard you bought, hide seams behind the shelves.
  • Paint and stain your bookcase and crown molding. Use as many coats as you need. You may need to prime your bookcase if you are using a light colored paint.
  • Install. Level toe bases first. Attach bookcase to the toebase and wall studs. Make sure you are level. When you are ready, attach the crown molding using finish nails. Cover all nail holes with filler and touch-up paint.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Remember to get help while lifting heavy items.
  • For a seamless look, use crown molding along your entire wall and wrap it around the bookcase.
  • Keep a window open while painting indoors.

Your bookcase should take about eight hours to build. Don't be surprised if it takes a bit longer.

The cost to build your bookcase will depend on where you shop. Look for the best deals. Feel free to ask questions as you make your plan.

Good luck. Your built-in bookcase will be the perfect addition to your home. Enjoy it for many years to come.


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