The DIY bookshelf done! This is what it looks like.

So we’ve had our new baby, and Mrs. Gabbert made the comment that she’d like a little book shelf to keep things on next to the rocking chair in the nursery. This is an awesome excuse to sneak in some shop time! So here’s the video showing you how I built this little DIY bookshelf:

Bookcase plans - Exploded Legs

Clicking this will take you to the plans.

Little Bookcase Plans

I’ve also drawn up a quick set of plans for this little DIY bookcase. They’re nothing crazy detailed, but they’ll give you enough of an idea as to how I built it. If more interest is shown in this project, I don’t have a problem drawing up something a little more detailed.

What You’ll Need For This Woodworking Project

  • Plywood for the box. (I used cabinet grade pine plywood I had left over from another project.)
  • Hardwood for the legs and edge banding. (I used poplar from the hardwood supplier because this was a paint grade project.)
  • Wood Glue
  • Screws (I used drywall screws, they were painted so no one’s going to ever know.)
  • Tools: I used all of the tools in the shop, but you can do this project with a few cheap and simple hand tools and a cordless drill.

Let’s Build The DIY Bookshelf

Alright, let’s dive into what you’re here for. The DIY Bookshelf build article. Here’s how I made it.

Rough Cut The Material

This is a paint grade build, so it’s not a real deep dive when it comes to the joinery or materials. But it was an fun build nonetheless, and I snuck a few mortise and tenons in there. Anyways, here I’m rough cutting the poplar for the legs.

Rough cut the leg pieces.

Rough cut the leg pieces.

Glue up the leg blanks.

I glued and then clamped up the leg blanks, and let them sit overnight to set up. I used 9/16″  material laminated together. So after it had been planed and sanded, it finished out right at 1-1/2″ thick.

Glue up the leg blanks.

Glue up the leg blanks.

Squared up the leg blanks.

After the glue had dried, I ran the leg blanks over the jointer, shown below. So that I could create a perfectly flat and square surface on two sides of the blank.

After the glue sets up, square up the leg blanks.

After the glue sets up, square up the leg blanks.

Cut the legs out of the blanks.

Then I cut the legs out of the blanks on the table saw. These are cut 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ in width.

Rip legs to final width.

Rip legs to final width.

Cut the legs to length.

Then I cut the legs to their final 5-1/2″ length on the table saw, with the table saw sled. You could use a hand saw, miter saw or a radial arm saw.

Cross cut legs to final length.

Cross cut legs to final length.

Create the tenon.

Then I created the tenon on the top of the legs with my table saw sled and a parallel to the blade fence attachment. If the image doesn’t make sense, it’s easier to understand in the video.

Create a tenon on the legs.

Create a tenon on the legs.

Chamfer the legs.

I made a chamfering template, which is the darker plywood lying flat on the sled. And used it to hold the legs in place while I chamfered all of the legs on two sides.

Taper or chamfer the legs.

Taper or chamfer the legs.

Create the mortises.

Then I laid out the mortises on the leg caps. I hogged out most of the material on the drill press, and finished up the mortises with a chisel.

Create the mortise.

Create the mortise.

Glued and clamped up the legs.

Then I glued and clamped up the mortise and tenon joints that make up the leg components.

DIY Bookshelf - Glue up and clamp the legs.

Glue up and clamp the legs.

Re-saw the edge banding.

I made some poplar edge banding that was about 1/8″ thick. The usual banding is real scant, and I don’t like how flimsy it is, especially with it’s own built in adhesive. So I made my own on this one.

Rip or resaw the edge banding.

Rip or resaw the edge banding.

Cut the box parts to rough length.

Here I’m cutting the box parts to rough length, so that they’re manageable.

Cut all the box pieces to rough length & width.

Cut all the box pieces to rough length & width.

Glue up the edge banding.

I’m using a clamping caul to hold down the edge banding as the glue sets up. This even pressure makes for a better edge in my opinion.

DIY Bookshelf - Glue up the edge banding.

Glue up the edge banding.

Plane down the edge banding.

I have used a router with a flush trim bit to do this job for years. And will continue to use a flush trim bit on the router table from here on out, especially with plywood. Using the block plane was a mistake because I cut into the top veneer of the plywood. And even though it was painted, it still bugged the hell out of me till the project was done.

DIY Bookshelf - Trim the edge banding.

Trim the edge banding.

Cut the panels to the final length.

With a really sharp cross cut blade, I cut all the box pieces to final length for glue up.

DIY Bookshelf - Cut the box pieces to finish length.

Cut the box pieces to finish length.

Glue and clamp up the DIY Bookshelf

Here I’m gluing and clamping up the DIY Bookshelf. I didn’t use any metal fasteners, only glue.

DIY Bookshelf - Glue up the box.

Glue up the box.

Finish the plywood edge.

I can’t remember where I learned this, but if you spread glue on the end grain of plywood a few times, letting it dry between applications, and then sand. It comes out finish smooth. Of course, you only do this in a paint grade situation. This was something I did on the fly, because I removed the poplar detail I was going to put around the top piece. Once I saw the cabinet like this, I loved the rectangle look. These edges came out nice in the end.

DIY Bookshelf - Finish the plywood ends.

Finish the plywood ends.

Pre-drill and countersink leg fastening holes.

I marked 5 holes in each leg component, and drilled a 1/8″ hole. Followed by a countersink hole to sit the head of the screw flush without tearing out the poplar.

DIY Bookshelf - Pre-drill the holes to attach the legs.

Pre-drill the holes to attach the legs.

Attach the leg components.

I clamped and then attached the leg components. I used Sheetrock screws because that’s what I had.

DIY Bookshelf - Attach the legs to the bookshelf.

Attach the legs to the bookshelf.

Paint the little DIY Bookshelf

I’m putting my first coat of paint on the DIY Bookshelf. I’m using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, which I love how easy it is to use. And I also love how the finish comes out.

DIY Bookshelf - Paint the cabinet.

Paint the cabinet.

Put on a second coat of paint.

Then I put on a second coat of paint, which came out very smooth after I lightly sanded the first coat and any high spots with 600 grit sand paper.

 DIY Bookshelf - I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Which is awesome by the way.

I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Which is awesome by the way.

Apply the wax.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is ment to be waxed after the paint dries, so I’m applying her clear wax here.

DIY Bookshelf - Apply, and then wipe off Annie Sloan Clear Wax.

Apply Annie Sloan Clear Wax.

Wipe off the Annie Sloan Clear Wax

Then after you apply the wax, you need to wipe off the excess with a clean towel.

DIY Bookshelf - Wipe the Annie Sloan Clear Wax off.

Wipe the Annie Sloan Clear Wax off.

Next step, fill it up with stuff!

This is what she looked like all loaded up, and ready for her first day on the job. Not bad, right?

DIY Bookshelf - And this is what she looked like all full of stuff.

And this is what she looked like all full of stuff.

I am very happy with how this little DIY Bookshelf came out. Especially with how well the Annie Sloan finish ended up looking, not to mention how easy it is to apply.

Now Mrs. Gabbert has her bookcase, I got some shop time, and everyone’s happy. Thanks for checking this out, and reading all the way to the bottom!

We’ll see you on the next one,

— Adam

The DIY bookshelf done! This is what it looks like.

The DIY bookshelf done! This is what it looks like.

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