In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how I built these DIY built-in bookshelves. When we were building our new house, there were so many projects I was excited about taking on. But I was probably most excited about these bookshelves I was going to build in my home office. My office is where I would be spending a lot of time for the foreseeable future, and I loved the idea of building something cool for this room.
I designed these built-ins to be a little unique. I didn’t want a full wall of bookshelves, and I wanted an open space in the middle for some extra seating in the room. And I already knew where I would be placing my desk. Here’s what I came up with:
Before you get started, keep in mind that all rooms are different sizes and shapes, so you will need to alter the dimensions to fit your needs.
Now let me show you how I built these DIY built in bookshelves!
Here’s what you’ll need:
Since room dimensions vary, I’m only providing the types of lumber and millwork needed. For this project, I used Poplar from Empire Moulding & Millwork. I was so pleased with the quality of this wood!
Everywhere I put two pieces of wood together, you can assume that I nailed and glued it. I’m telling you this here, so I don’t have to repeat that in every step.
Step 1: Build Base Cabinets
I started by building the base cabinets.
I used 1×12’s for the side pieces. On the front, I nailed and glued a 1×8 across the bottom and a 1×4 across the top as shown in the image.
Then I nailed and glued on the piece of MDF for the top. If you don’t have a table saw, you can have your local cut it to size when you purchase it.
Next, I glued and nailed pieces of 1×2 to the inside of the cabinet. I placed them 3/4″ below the opening.
Then I added a piece of 1×12 on top of that to form the bottom of the cabinet.
After I built both bottom cabinets and placed them in the corners of the room, and secured them to the wall with finish nails and a couple of screws. You’ll want to make sure you are screwing and nailing into your wall studs. I added trim around the top of each. I used two pieces of 1×2 with a miter on the corner.
Step 2: Build the Shelves
Once I had the cabinet nailed into place in the corners. It was time to start adding the tall vertical boards for the shelving.
For these three pieces, I used 1x8s. I nailed the two sides in place and then added the top piece.
Then I added the other two vertical boards. Once I made sure they were all plumb, I nailed them in place.
Still using 1x8s, I added the top-level shelf and dividers.
Then I added vertical 1×4 pieces to the face of the shelves as shown in the image above.
Using 1x2s I added all of the remaining faces.
Since I wanted the bookcase to go all the way to the ceiling, I added a 1×12 to the top. This would also allow me to mount a wall sconce for bookshelf lighting above each shelf. I also added a 1×2 all the way across as a cap and for a little added detail.
I opted to go with fixed shelves. I didn’t see us ever having a need to adjust the placement of these. So I used a 1×8 for each shelf, and 1×2 across the front to give the shelf more thickness and make them flush with the side face 1x4s.
I added three shelves to each side and spaced them out evenly in the vertical space.
Step 3: Finishing Touches
I built the doors for this bookcase, but showing you how to do that is a whole tutorial in itself. If you have a good router table, you may want to try it yourself. But another option is to hire a local woodshop to build the doors for you. All you have to do is tell them the style you want and the dimensions based on how much overlay you want.
Once the bookcase was finished, it was sanded, all the holes were filled, and all of the seams were caulked. I had our trim crew run the baseboard around the bottom of the cabinets, and the crown molding across the top.
Then it was painted with the rest of the room.
I hope you found this tutorial helpful! Again, keep in mind that your room will have different dimensions than mine. So you’ll need to alter some of the measurements.
Shop This Look
*This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.