Faux Built In Shelves

You don't have to be a finish carpenter to create a stunning shelve unit that looks like it was built in.

Have you got a corner you want to fill? Could you use a couple extra places in your bathroom to set stuff? Is your kitchen cluttered with spices, cereals and cookbooks? Well, an easy, do-it-yourself, faux built-in bookshelf might be just what your favorite room needs to make it complete. Your friends won't believe you didn't hire a finish carpenter when they see what you've built. And they'll be begging to follow the same simple instructions you used to get your home improvement project finished.

You'll need a few basic tools to get this one rolling: a hammer, saw, level and measuring tape. You'll also need some good lumber. Consider what you're trying to accomplish and use that as your guide to choose the quality of materials. If you're just going to paint the unit the same color as your walls, you can get away with a less expensive wood like pine. If you're planning to finish the unit with a stain or wax, you'll definitely want to choose a harder wood that has very few knots in it.

Nooks and corners are the best places to add faux built-ins for several reasons. For one, nooks and corners are where built-ins naturally go. For two, having at least two walls to work with for your project will aid in creating a solid unit that will be standing for years to come.

The process of constructing this built-in is very simple. You will build a one-inch L or U-shaped ledge to rest a shelf on utilizing 1"x12" boards. After carefully measuring the width of the area you plan to build in, cut the boards at this measurement. You'll need two lengths for each shelf you will be installing - one for the ledge, the other for the shelf itself. In older houses it is recommended that you take measurements at each point that there will be a shelf. This ensures that your new built-in will fit perfectly.

Starting with the bottom shelf, begin installing the boards. You'll want to use a level and finish nails (the kind with little knobby heads). For the arms of the L or U shape, you'll need one or two 11" boards. Once you finish installing this first row, the rest comes very easily. All you need to do is place the length of shelving on that first ledge and then repeat the process.

Once you've finished installing the unit, you can add some detail with some strips molding to accent your bookcase. Trim the unfinished edges or under each shelf. You can even use different cuts of molding to add a little eclectic interest.

When you're ready to finish the project, use an awl to sink all the nails. Go back with wood putty, fill the holes, and then sand the rough spots. If you're planning to finish the built-in with stain, make sure you sand thoroughly with very fine paper. This will give you a nice surface to work with. And if you just want to finish the project with a coat of paint, take the time to paint a coat of primer.

Get creative! Use this technique to make all your unusable space useable. A lighter alternative to this design would be to use just the moldings for the shelves' ledges. This will take some expertise with a miter saw, but the results are well worth the effort.

© High Speed Ventures 2011