Upcycled Bookcase

9 Materials
5 Hours

What do you do when you have the tops of a couple bookcases left over from another project? Make a new bookcase, of course!

Step 1

These are what I had to start with. I had been given some bookcases from our old church library that were 6 feet tall about six years ago. I did not need that height for the project I was doing then and so we cut them down to the size I wanted at the time. It left me with the tops of the bookcases and I used them, stacked on top of each other in my closet, for years. I have been working on remodeling my closet and took these tops out where they have sat on my porch for an entire year. I finally decided to do something with them...and clean my porch off at the same time! Talk about a win-win!

Step 2

I needed to fill the holes on the sides of the bookcases. After the wood filler dried, I sanded the spots smooth. I neglected to take pictures of the next step (so sorry) but I decided to cut the bookcases down so that they had a good shelf bottom and to accommodate the height I was trying to achieve. For that part, I used my framing square to get a nice straight line and my circular saw. Once they were cut down to the size I wanted I scuff sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to prepare them for painting!

Step 3

Prepping and staining the wood for the top and bottom was the next step while the paint was drying on the bookcases. First, I sanded the 1x10's I had out in our wood pile so that they would be smooth and not give anyone splinters. For that part, I used 150 grit sandpaper and my cordless hand sander. Once that was done, I used General Finishes Java Gel stain, with a pair of gloves to protect my hands, to stain the wood for the top and bottom of the bookcase.

Step 4

While the stain was drying outside, I joined the two sides of the bookcase together. It was important to make sure the bookcases were plumb front to back and top to bottom. To help me achieve that, I used clamps to hold them together and keep them from moving while I pre-drilled and then screwed them together. Using clamps is like having an extra pair of hands and can be so helpful.

Step 5

To attach the stained 1x10's, I wanted to start with the bottom so I flipped the bookcase over. I know this looks weird, but since these ones are on the bottom, I did not stain the bottom of the boards...this will make more sense when you see the finished product. I used clamps again but this time it was to make sure the boards were straight (it helped take a little bow out of them and insure a straight seam between the two pieces). I pre-drilled the holes and secured the boards with screws.

Step 6

Adding bun feet to the bottom was the next step in creating the height and look I wanted to achieve. I salvaged these bun feet from another piece of furniture several years ago. I pre-drilled the holes for the threaded inserts that would allow me to attach the feet. Once the holes were drilled, I used a large flat head screwdriver to screw them into the wood on the bottom of the bookcase. At that point, I was able to attach the feet and turn the bookcase right side up.

Step 7

The last step was to attach the top two stained boards to give the bookcase a finished look. I used the clamps again, pre-drilled the holes for screws so I didn't crack the wood, and attached the boards with screws.

Here it is, an upcycled bookcase made entirely from scrap stuff I had on hand! I love how it looks like a high-end piece of furniture that was basically free minus my time!

The feet really help add that high-end furniture look.

I am really pleased with how this turned out and I like having it behind my sofa for now. It is a great height and width in this area and can help hold a few extra games for the family. I know at some point, it will get moved somewhere else in my home but for now, it is right where I designed it to fit!

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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Val
    on May 2, 2020

    In step 6 you pre-drill the holes for the screws and put the inserts in and screwed them in with a flathead screwdriver. Then you added the bun feet. How??? Am I making this harder than it is? What are bun feet? Maybe that should be my first question. Please help. Btf, I really love the finished product. Truly beautiful.

    • Katy | Rancho La Flor
      on May 2, 2020

      Thank you, Val! Yes, you put the threaded inserts in first so that the threads on the bolts of the bun feet have something to screw into! Bun feet are just short little chunky legs for furniture. Often you will see them on the bottom of sofas! Hope that helps!

Join the conversation

4 of 23 comments
  • Madeline McLean
    on May 18, 2020


  • Dana
    on May 18, 2020

    Great job. I've wanted to add a sofa table/storage unit in the space between my living room and kitchen and this seems to fit both purposes. Wish I'd keep my old bookcases now.

    • Katy | Rancho La Flor
      on May 18, 2020

      It does double duty for sure! You could probably find some second-hand bookcases on FB Marketplace or Craigslist for relatively little cost! Let me know if you do this project - I’d love to see it!

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