How to Build a Small Bookcase

Assemble a custom storage piece with plywood and moldings. See shopping list and tools list here>
It's a shame to closet your collectibles when open shelving puts those prized possessions on proud display. And it doesn't take much to build yourself a custom bookcase: A few sheets of veneer plywood and some inexpensive molding, and you're well on your way to creating a proper showcase for your hardback favorites and treasured curios. Or you can find one that suits your space in a range of styles and materials, from unadorned models made of engineered wood to hardwood beauties with adjustable shelving and fancy molding. Either way, consider an attention-grabbing color to ramp up the statement.
1. ¾ inch plywood top: 1 at 13 by 33 inches

2.¾ inch plywood sides: 2 at 12 by 43¼ inches

3.¾ inch plywood shelves: 3 at 12 by 31½ inches

4.¾ inch plywood shelf supports: 6 at 12 by 12½ inches

5.¾ inch plywood bottom shelf support: 2 at 12 by 3½ inches

6.½ inch plywood back: 1 at 43¼ by 33 inches

7.1x3 crosspiece: 1 at 28 inches

8.chair rail molding: 3 at custom cut to size

9.fluted casing: 2 at 39¾ inches

10.1x4 base trim: 3 at custom cut to size

Download cut list here>
_cut the pieces. Using a circular saw and a straightedge, cut the assembly pieces based on the cut list in the last step. Sand them lightly. MORE>
_build the sides. With the sides laid flat, position the shelf supports and use a strip of scrap to block out a gap for the shelves. Glue and nail the supports to the sides.
_assemble. Fit the shelves into the side slots, using clamps to hold it all together. Use the back panel to square up the assembly, then glue and screw it to the sides' edges. Tip the cabinet upright, apply glue to its top edges, and set the top piece flush with the back and sides but overhanging the front. Screw the top in place. MORE>
_trim it out. Miter the base trim. Attach the pieces to the front and sides, flush with the floor. Install vertical lengths of fluted casing to the front edges, between the base trim and the overhanging top. Install a 1x3 crosspiece between the casings, up against the top. Miter and attach the chair-rail molding to the front and sides, flush with the top. Fill the fastener holes with wood glue, then sand and paint the entire piece. MORE>
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
Join the conversation
2 of 4 comments
  • Helen Helen on May 05, 2014
    I have been wanting a bookcase for the bedroom...this would fit the bill nicely. You did a beautiful job building it and the finishing touches are amazing.

  • Valerie Valerie on May 08, 2014
    The book shelf looks lovely - and thanks so much for such a detailed tutorial. It is definitely going to be added to my 'To do' list!