DIY Rustic Bookshelf and Storage

by Glen
19 Materials
2 Days

There is just something satisfying about creating your own piece of furniture. I‘m excited to show you the steps I took to create this rustic bookshelf; this can also be used for storage. This bookshelf is designed to be broken down for easy transport. The nice two-tone finish quickly draws attention to the eye with lots of storage.

Step 1: Making The Cut

Free plans here: Plans


You can find a complete material list above. When making the shelves, one thing to keep in mind the dimensions may vary. I took the width of the smallest shelf then ripped the other shelves to match. You can use a table saw or a circular saw with an edge guide to rip the shelves. I only used four shelves but you can use more. This design is fairly easy to modify.



Cut all the 2by2 to be the same length. Then cut the bottom and top part to complete the frame. As a way to keep the design clean, I used dowels. I have mixed feelings towards them, mainly because there is no room for error. For me, I find that a dowel center works great, especially where you cannot get a dowel jig to work. After drilling the holes glue up the parts, then add wood glue and clamps.

Step 2: Making The Cross Support

To create the cross support I temporary laid out the shelf as it would be completed. I took a 2by2 lumber and placed it diagonally across the back. With this piece of lumber in place, I then marked it where it intersected the two frames. Then cut it at that mark. Next, I used this piece of cross support to mark the other the other one.


Making the cross

With both parts cut to size. Set them in place as if there were installed, placing one on top of the other. Now, mark both parts, then label them. I used a top and bottom label.

Step 3: Cutting The Half Lap Joint

Note: If you don’t plan to disassemble you can glue this joint. I like the idea of being able to break this down.

With both pieces being marked from the previous step, use a hand saw to cut inside the line. Prior to cutting, make sure you mark the halfway point on both pieces. Then, take a chisel and remove the unwanted areas. Put the cross support together then find the center of the intersection. Next, drill a hole for the connecting bolt. Do not drill all the way through both pieces. With half of the material being removed I had to modify the threaded insert, making it shorter.

Step 4: Attaching The Cross Support

Since the cross support is not bearing any weight and just providing stability I felt this setup would be ideal. Threaded insert are one of my favorite hardware to use when connecting two parts. Driving a threaded insert in the end grain it surprisingly strong. I was able to drive most of the insert in at the right angle. I did notice one of them was at an angle, which I used a file to clean it up.

Step 5: Sanding And Applying Finish

Although I used a thickness planer in this project. You don’t need it! My lumber is not 100% flat; my main goal was to minimize sanding my removing a few layers. Keeping the thick look was important to me. An orbital sander or a belt sander will work just fine. after sanding the shelves I then sanded the frame.


Applying Finish 

For the shelves, I used light walnut Danish oil and for the frame, I used espresso 273.

Step 6: Assembling The Frame

After allowing the stain to completely dry, assemble the frame, then add the cross support. Make sure all bolts are tightened. If you notice any wobble in the frame, the shelves should add weight and make this more stable. Next, apply a coat of protection, I used polyurethane.

Step 7: Adding The Shelves

For spacing, I placed the first shelf 4 inches from the very bottom. I then used a piece of wood as a template to space the shelves apart evenly. I spaced them 16in apart but this is personal preference. After installing the brackets take the frame to your desired location and then add the shelves. The bracket comes with screws, which will work, but I used longer screws to attach the shelves.

Step 8: Final

Here are is few photos of the finished product


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  • Cheryl Biermann Cheryl Biermann on Nov 03, 2018

    I love your projects and the detailed instructions you always include. Do you think you'll do a hidden door bookcase ever? It has always been something I want to try. Thanks for your posts, they are always one of the best!

  • Sarge Sarge on Nov 27, 2018

    When did you say you were coming to NY?

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  • M davis M davis on Nov 22, 2018

    My father built me an easily broken down bookshelf using flat-head Phillips-head screws, 12 x 10 x 1 lumber and quarter-round. It had 8/9 shelves. (I've recycled the wood since then.) He cut 2 of the boards to the ceiling height less 1". He cut 2 at 4' for the bottom and top shelves. Then he cut the others to the width of the unit (approx. 4') for uprights for the remaining shelves. He cut the "scraps" to the height between the shelves. He used 10" and 12" pieces, but you can adapt to your needs. (I was storing LP's and books.) Starting at the bottom, he assembled the sides and bottom shelf. (Note- It's been years since I've recycled the lumber: He may have boxed in the bottom for more stability with a 3-4" high spacer like those on ready-made furniture. He would have used screws and quarter-round to secure it inside the box.) At each end he used an upright and a 12" long piece quarter-round to attach the shelf to the frame. One flat side of the round was even with the cut end of the block, the other against the block. He used 3 screws to attach the upright to the frame through the block (I think he drilled a pilot hole through them first.) He continued this to the top of the nit. So- It looked like he had notched out a thicker board- but we didn't have dados or the proper space/tools to use them. He improvised. I broke down and moved this shelf unit more times than I can remember. It always went back together as tightly as he made it. It lasted more than 20 years before I recycled the lumber for wall-mounted shelving (you know- the kind with metal uprights into the studs). The aged pinewood shelves have never been stained, but have that 'old' patina that wood acquires, and are still functioning well. One more plus- As wood ages, it tends to get lighter as more of the sap evaporates over time. And- I still have all those screws to make more stuff with!


  • Wanda Taylor Wanda Taylor on Nov 26, 2018

    You are great at what you do!!!