How To Add Wood To the Back of a Bookcase

by Thistlewood
4 Materials
4 Hours

Looking for a way to update a basic bookcase? This project is so easy and all you need are a few pieces of wood and a little inspiration.

Here's the step-by-step on how to transform your bookcase from ordinary to amazing.

Step 1: Unpackage shims

You can use any scrap wood for this project, but I really like the flexibility (and cost of wood shims). You'll need approximately 5-7 packages of wood shims. Unpackage the shims and remove the pieces that are too thin or pieces that have giant knot holes.

Next, saw the pieces of shim in half with a hand saw.

You can measure, but I just guesstimated. This is not an exact science.

I just approximated half and cut.

Step 2: Layer wood pieces

Start layering the pieces in a brick pattern.

It works better if you are using shims, if you match up the thin end of the shim next to the thick part of another shim

to give it more architectural interest.

Next, use wood glue attach the pieces to the back of the bookcase.

Hold in place with painter’s tape.

Step 3: Continue to add the wood in a staggered pattern

Continue to add the pieces of wood shim in a staggered brick pattern. until the back of the bookcase is full.

There will be gaps at the edges where a full piece of wood won't fit. After you've attached all the full-size pieces of wood shim to the back of the bookcase, you'll need to fill in the holes.When you reach the edges, cut smaller pieces to fit.

I used the thinner end of the shim and just cut with scissors.

Step 4: Sand and wipe away any glue

When you are finished attaching the wood to the back of the bookcase, it should look like this.

Lightly sand any rough edges and wipe off excess glue that seeps out from between the wood pieces.

You can also seal it with polyurethane for a more durable finish.

Step 5: Choose finish

After your glue dries, you can now choose any of a number of finishes for the back of the bookcase. You could stain the wood, or lightly paint it with a white paint for a rustic finish. You could also seal it with a coat of polyurethane and leave it with a natural finish.

Step 6: Let dry and style

Be sure and let the glue and the finish dry completely. Then, style the bookcase with books, accessories and other home decor pieces. It's such an easy project and simple way to give the back of a book case a little personality.

Like this furniture makeover? Here are a few more DIY furniture projects you may like:

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Frequently asked questions
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  3 questions
  • Cheryl Cheryl on Sep 05, 2020

    I love this look! The only question I have is, “How’d you get so clever?” 🙃

  • Jackiesoap Jackiesoap on Aug 06, 2023

    Yes, you inspired me! I have a dozen or so IKEA bookcases with the paperboard backing that over time warps. I am wondering if I could use an idea like this to fix them???? Thanks for the lightbulb moment!

  • Rhoda Rhoda on Aug 06, 2023

    What a great idea! It looks really nice and unique for sure! How about a pop of color somewhere in your decor? Maybe a small vase, flowers or a book with a colorful cover?

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