Simple bookcase

Here is a minimal tool bookcase I built. It matches my U-shaped desk.

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I had a couple of store bought bookcases but they never seemed to last. Simply moving them a couple of inches without unloading the case would cause them to collapse. The pressed wood even at 25 inches wide would sag and bow even under the lightest of loads. The cheap cardboard backs were notorious for pulling away from the back of the cabinet. I wanted a book case that would handle the books I had on them, could be moved without falling apart. Since this was to be my "spring honey do vacation" project, I didn't want to spend a lot of time on it. It also has been a cold spring in Ohio, My spring vacation week had 4 inches of snow one day, Torrential rain and wind, Tornado, freezing rain and just crappy cold, so I didn't want to have to work in the cold barn cutting and building the bookcases. This is an easy one or two day project that requires minimal tools to build.

To minimize the amount of sawing I needed to do I had the home center ( I used Loews) to do most of the  long cuts.   Since I was not sure how wide I was going to make the shelves I left those 6 cuts to me, but you could have the home center do those cuts as well.  Both  Loews and  Home Depot both have chops saws but its kind of hit/miss if its working for they have staff around that knows how to use it so call and ask before you make the drive. Other home centers and lumber yards may also do the cuts for you.  Usually they give you 2 cuts per board and charge 25 to 50 cents per cut after that but I have seldom been charge extra cut cost on projects.  Having them do the cuts also makes transportation a little easier as the resulting cut wood will fit in most SUV/Crossovers. 

  • 1 × Plywood, 1 4x8 3/4 sheet One per cabinet. 4x8 3/4 plywood sheet, I used cabinet grade Approx $50, You can use lower cost wood if you like.
  • 1 × 4x8 plywood 1/4 sheet. One per cabinet. 4x8 plywood 1/4 sheet Sanded on one side Approx $15.
  • 1 × Screws 1 1/2 inch long (box of 50 is enough) per cabinet I used futurature grade black screws but any wood screws will work. should be 1 1/2 long
  • 1 × Paint and/or Stain to meet you decor. I used black interior latex paint for the cabinet and stained the shelves.
  • 1 × Tools, Screwdriver, saw, tape measure and square. I used a circular saw for the few cuts I needed, cordless screw driver to drive in the screws but hand tools would work.

  • 1
    3/4 plywood cuts.

    The 3/4 plywood has 5 cuts,  All cuts a 12 inches  wide. First two cuts  trim the wood down to a 4x6ft board and the second 3 cuts take the boards down to four  12inch by 6ft boards.  Here is a cut lines for the sides and shelves. 

  • 2
    1/4 playwood cuts

    For the back  cuts, its a single cut and you simply cut 24 inches off the top of the sheet giving you a 4x6 sheet. You will need to trim the width of the plywood to match your shelf width. 

  • 3
    Determine your shelf width..

    The 4x8 sheet cut per instructions will yield  two 6ft long sides panels plus  6 boards up to 36 inches long for the top , bottom and four shelves. I thought 36 inches was a bit wide for my shelf and 24 a bit small so ended up with a 30 inch wide shelves for my bookcase.  Once you have your width you will need to cut the two 6 ft boards and two  4ft board down to size.  While this can be cut with a hand saw, an electric saw will speed up the work. Do note that the wood grain on the 4ft boards and 6ft boards go different directions. If your painting then entire bookcase this will not really matter but if your staining the shelves as I did you may want want to make the shelves out of the 6ft boards and the top and bottom out of the 4ft board.

    Now that you have your shelf width you need to cut the 1/4 inch plywood panel width to match your book case with. DO keep in mind that your back is actually wider than the shelf.  since they fit between the side rails. 

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