Creating custom bookshelves is a great way to add a fun design element to any space. The task can seem overwhelming, but it is easier than you think to build. Instead of thinking of the WHOLE bookshelf as one big thing. Let's break it down to small steps and build up from there.
Supplies Needed to Build Custom Bookshelves
- 4 2x4's
- 3 sheets of ¾" thick plywood
- Mdf molding
- Brad nailer
- miter saw
- table saw or circular saw
- tape measure
- sand paper
YouTube Video on Custom Built in Bookshelves
How to Build the Base for Custom Built in Bookshelves
First, I used my 2x4,s and built a base. This base will give the custom bookshelves strength and a good base to start on. I attached the 2x4's to the studs in my wall and I also anchored it to the floor. When building the bookshelf I wanted the bottom shelves to be bigger than the upper shelves. The bottom cabinet measures 36" wide x 31" tall x 15" deep. I put the shelve right in the middle.
Next, rip down the ¾" sheets of plywood into 15" strips. And then cut them down to size. I wanted my shelves and side thicker than ¾" as I think it looks more custom and it is a bit stronger. So I used ¾" plywood on the inside and outside and then used stripes of ¾" plywood as a space in the middle.
Once your box is built you can add a shelf using shelf hooks
Tip: pull out your level and block along the wall until your piece is level. You can use shims to get it 100% level. This will easily be covered up with molding and look great.
Adding Molding to the Shelves
Once everything is built it is time to add molding to make it look pretty. I ripped down MDF to the exact thickness of the box and framed the whole thing up. Look how good having it a little bit thicker looks. It really helps to make custom bookshelves look high end.
Here is the custom bookshelves base all complete. Since I had a window in the middle I built a window seat in the middle out of 2x4's as well and then covered it up with vertical shiplap. I left the middle hollow for added storage in the room.
How to Build the Upper Custom Bookshelves
First attach the spacers to the wall and then attach the side piece to the spacers. Again, making sure that it is level, don't trust the wall.
Once the side piece is up, figure out shelf spacing. My bottom shelf is 15" tall and then the other shelves are 13". I wanted the bottom shelf to be a little taller for bigger items.
TIP: Measure how tall your top shelf is and then decide shelf heights from there. Then they are all evenly spaced.
Then add shelf hook to the back wall. Place glue on the back side and then nail it to the wall. Making sure it is level.
Once the shelf hook is up, attach the outside piece of plywood to the shelf hook. Don't worry, it will get stronger as the bookshelf is built.
Add the bottom spacer and nail it into the bottom bookshelf this will add strength. Then add other spacers all the way up. Attach the outside piece of plywood.
Next add the shelf hook to the sides and begin adding your shelves. Nail the shelves into the shelf hook on both sides and the back. This will give LOTS of strength to the custom bookshelves.
Add plywood across the top as well. This will add strength and we will use it to attach the crown to.
Finish everything off with molding, and the custom bookshelves are just about here!!
Once everything is built go back and fill in the holes with spackle and sand down all the rough spots and excess spackle. Caulk all of the edges for a nice smooth finish and the custom bookshelves are ready for paint.
Tape everything you don't want paint on off. Since this is raw wood I primed it first and sanded it down after it was dry, about 4 hours. Now to spray everything with Cameo White by Behr. After I applied the first coat and I used a brush to get in the hard spots to reach with a sprayer. I then gave it one more coat of paint.
Custom Bookshelves Complete
Here they are all complete. I love how it took this weird wall and made it a statement for this room. The dark wall color, Graphite Charcoal by Behr, really helps to make the custom bookshelves pop.