Easy-to-Build Bookcase

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buildsomething added on 12/29/2016

This bookcase offers ample storage and display space in a compact footprint. Plus, it’s super easy to build using 2x2 and 1x10 boards, plus pocket-hole screws. The vertical dividers add an interesting look, create built-in bookends, and make the whole structure stronger without adding complexity.


Follow the steps below to complete this project.


Make the Frame Parts

Cut four Long Rails, four Legs and four Short Rails from 2x2 pine boards, as shown in the cutting diagram. Set your pocket-hole jig for 1 1/2"-thick material and drill pocket holes at the ends of the Long Rails and Short Rails, as shown. Next, set your pocket-hole jig for 3/4"-thick material. Then drill pocket holes centered on one side of each of the Short Rails as shown. These holes will be sued to help attach the shelves later. When you’re done, sand the parts smooth using 120-grit, then 150-grit sandpaper.


Assemble a Pair of Frames

Position two Long Rails between two Legs, so that the upper Long Rail sits flush with the tops of the Legs, and the other Long Rail is located 2 1/4" up from the bottoms of the Legs, as shown. Now attach the Long Rails using 2 1/2" coarse-thread pocket-hole screws, as shown. Repeat this process to assemble the other frame. If you plan finish your shelves like we did—with clear finish on the frames and paint on the shelves and dividers—this is a good time to apply finish to the frame assemblies and the short dividers.


Make the Shelves and Dividers

Cut four Shelves, two Shelf Dividers, and one Top Shelf Divider from 1x10 poplar boards, as shown in the cutting diagram. With your pocket-hole jig set for 3/4"-thick material, drill pocket holes where shown in the Top and Bottom shelves, the Middle Shelves, and the three Dividers. When you’re done, sand these parts smooth. If you plan to paint the shelves and dividers, as we did, this is a good time to do it. Yes, it means you’ll have to wait for the paint to dry before moving on with assembly, but you’ll save time in the long runs since painting now is much easier.


Attach Short Rails to Shelves

Once your paint and finish are dry, you can move on with assembly. Glue and clamp two Short Rails to the Bottom Shelf as shown. Make sure the pocket hole on the side of each Short Rail faces inward. Secure each Short Rail to the Bottom Shelf using one 1 1/4" coarse-thread pocket-hole screw. Repeat the process for Top Shelf.


Attach the Bottom Shelf

Now you can position the bottom shelf assembly on one of the frame assemblies, as shown, and attach it. Use 2 1/2" coarse-thread pocket-hole screws to secure the Short Rails to the Legs. Use 1 1/4" coarse-thread pocket-hole screws to attach the Bottom Shelf to the Long Rail.


Attach the Middle Shelves, Dividers

Cut two 10 1/4"-long spacers from 2x2 boards. Rest those spacers on the Legs and against the Bottom Shelf, as shown. Position the Middle Shelf so it rests on the Spacers. Then secure the Middle Shelf using 1 1/4" coarse-thread pocket-hole screws. Next, position the Divider as shown. Use a square to make sure that the Divider is located accurately, and then attach the shelves using 1 1/4" coarse-thread pocket-hole screws. Depending on your drill, you may not be able to fit the drill and driver bit between the shelves. That’s where an inexpensive right-angle attachment can be handy, as shown in the Tip below. Repeat this process to attach the second Middle Shelf and Divider, but this time offset the Divider from the opposite end of the shelf.


When space is tight, it can be difficult or impossible to position a drill and a long square-drive bit for driving pocket screws. For less than $25, though, you can pick up a right angle attachment that works with any drill. Combine a right angle attachment with a 3" square-drive bit, and you can drive pocket holes almost anywhere.


Attach the Top Shelf and Divider

Set the Top Shelf assembly in position on the frame assembly as shown. Use 2 1/2" coarse-thread pocket-hole screws to secure the Short Rails to the Legs. Use 1 1/4" coarse-thread pocket-hole screws to attach the Top Shelf to the Long Rail. Position the Top Shelf Divider, check it with a square, and then attach the Top Divider using 1 1/4" coarse-thread pocket-hole screws. If you want to plug the pocket-holes in the Dividers, go ahead and glue them in, trim the plugs flush, and then paint them.


Attach the Second Frame

To finish up, you can attach the second frame assembly. Again, you’ll use 2 1/2" pocket-hole screws to secure the Short Rails to the Legs, and 1 1/4" pocket-hole screws to attach the Shelves to the Long Rails. With that done, you’re ready to move your new bookcase to its location, and load it up.

Tools Used:

Materials Required:

Wood Products:

 (2) 2x2, 96", Board  
 (2) 1x10, 72", Board  
 (1) 1x10, 48", Board  


Parts/Cut List:

(4) Leg, 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 37 1/2" pine  
(4) Long Rail, 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 32" pine  
(4) Short Rail, 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 9 1/4" pine  
(2) Top and Bottom Shelf, 3/4" x 9 1/4" x 35" poplar  
(2) Middle Shelf, 3/4" x 9 1/4" x 35" poplar  
(2) Shelf Divider, 3/4" x 9 1/4" x 10 1/4" poplar  
(1) Top Shelf Divider, 3/4" x 9 1/4" x 11" poplar  


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