Building Bookshelves: Carpentry Style

Building bookshelves: carpentry style. A Step by step instructions for building a bookshelf that attaches to a wall.

You need bookshelves, but the free-standing ones take up too much floor space. Or perhaps you need a shelf over a bed for some favorite knick-knacks. Whatever the reason a built in bookshelf is fairly simple to build and can be customized to fit your decor.

Decide where you want your shelves to go. You can put them over a door or a window, over a couch, or stereo. Measure the space you have, and decide upon the depth of the shelf, perhaps only 8 inches to hold video tapes, or it could be a foot deep for large hardbound books. It is your shelf so you decide. Keep in mind that you may later want to change the purpose of the shelves, so be generous with the depth, but remember that anything over about 12 inches deep will need support along the front of the shelf.

You are better off purchasing lumber designed for shelving since it is less likely to be warped, and frequently comes in the sizes you will need to save you some cutting. The harder a wood is the less likely it is to bow under heavy books. Your hardware dealer should be able to direct you to the most appropriate shelving for your purpose.



The amount of lumber and hardware you need will depend upon the size and number of shelves you want. You will need 1 inch thick shelving in the length you have chosen for your shelves. You will also need 1X1 shelf support for the rear of the shelf to rest on, screws or nails (screws are preferable since they are less likely to pull out of the wood), and L brackets. The tools you will need are fairly common, a level, a pencil, a hammer, screwdriver, a saw, a helper, and a stud finder.

Using your pencil mark where your shelves will go on the walls. Now with your helpers assistance hold one of the shelves against the wall, and check that you don't have any gaps bigger than about a 1/4 of an inch. In some older houses the walls have settled and bowed with time. If this has happened you will need to either smooth off the lumps if they are small or build up the wall to match the bumbs and bowing. If you find you need to build up the wall you could use shims and cut them to match the shelf thickness after they are up, or if it is not much then a little caulk, or drywall mud will help.

Attach your brackets to the back of your shelf. And then to the wall making sure to check that your shelf is level front to back as well as along the length. Your brackets should be screwed into studs. Now take a 1X1 and hold it along the line of the shelf. You will need to cut the 1X1 to fit between brackets Remember most houses have studs at 16 inches apart. It is recommended that you paint or wallpaper this piece to match the wall it is against. This will make it all but invisible when someone looks at your shelves. Now screw your shelf into the 1X1 from the shelf down. This is your shelf. Continue with your other shelves until they are all installed.

It is usually easier when installing multiple shelves to work from the top down. Don't forget to make sure the shelves are spaced evenly from side to side.

Now either paint or stain your shelves as you desire. To keep paint or stain off the wall behind use masking tape to tape off the wall. Allow your shelving to dry, and place your treasures where all can see.

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