DIY Furniture & Design

Shelf Life: 10 Bookcases You Can Make Yourself

Any bibliophile knows that storing your books is almost as much of an obsession as reading them. And while books can be an expensive habit, storing them doesn’t have to be. DIY bookshelves are an easy project, and you can build a bookcase yourself for a lot less than you can buy one. And quickly too -- in half a day, or less, on a weekend. DIY design ideas abound on the web, so there is no lack of guidance on how to build bookshelves. Repurpose a ladder, pallet or cinder blocks -- it’s within your reach. Keep in mind some design considerations when building a DIY bookcase. A general purpose bookshelf should be 10 - 12 inches deep. And be mindful of the span (how wide the shelf area is between supports). Fully loaded, a bookshelf will need to support 20 - 25 pounds per linear foot. If your supports are too far apart, the shelves will sag and be disconcerting visually. In most cases, 30 - 36 inches between supports will suffice, unless the books you’re storing are very heavy. If you live with small children, or in an earthquake prone area, you should secure your bookcases (and any other heavy furniture) to the walls. So, pick one of our favorite DIY bookcases and get started. Once you’re finished, you can obsess about how you’ll organize it -- by title, author, date, subject, or even color.

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Refurbish an Old Bookshelf

It’s sometimes difficult to say goodbye to a beloved piece of furniture—no matter how weathered—so skip the fond farewell by refurbishing an old but cherished bookcase. Whether it needs stripping and sanding, a layer of lacquer, or a fresh coat of paint, a worn bookcase can be made as good as new with a little effort.

Related: 13 Easy Ways to Repurpose Antique Armoires

Pipe Fitting Bookshelf

Assembled from a small stack of 1×8 boards and black plumbing pipes, this bookshelf is industrial in both strength and style—and putting the unit together proves that the electric drill is the tool that rules them all!

Suspended Rope Shelf

Rope is an excellent all-purpose craft material—it can be used in making stair railings, lampshades, and even privacy screens. A sturdy length of knotted rope is also great for suspending a shelf that lends a nautical charm to any room.

Related: 18 Brilliant Ways to Decorate with Rope

Grand Piano Bookshelf

Mounted like a trophy on a den wall, this gutted grand piano makes a sturdy, curvaceous shelving unit. Possibly better suited to a music room or study, a wall-mounted grand piano is guaranteed to be a conversation starter wherever it’s put.

Flexible Bookshelf

Simple cuts of wood and rope work in concert to form a flexible DIY bookcase. Add or remove blocks to create a perfect fit for any space. Consider painting a few of the blocks for a trendier twist on this already modern shelving project.

Related: 10 Surprisingly Simple Woodworking Projects for Beginners

Crutches Shelf

Some DIY projects take your eyes by surprise. Wood crutches—or a wood A-frame ladder—can be transformed into a rustic and airy DIY bookcase with the addition of shelving boards, readily available at any home improvement store or lumberyard.

Related: Get Organized—25 Clever Ideas for Repurposed Storage

Corner Plumbing Pipe Shelf

Don’t let a good corner go to waste. Instead, tackle this easy and affordable pipe fitting shelf project. Budding bookworms can rejoice in this simply constructed storage solution for the peskiest part of any room.

Related: 10 Top DIY Pipe Fitting Projects

Ladder Shelf


The old and cumbersome wooden ladders of yesteryear have been all but completely replaced by today’s lightweight aluminum and fiberglass versions. Give a wood ladder a second life as a DIY bookcase by mounting it sideways on a wall.

Related: 5 Things to Do with… Vintage Ladders

Shipping Pallet Shelf / Chris.Shutter

Use shipping pallets as the primary construction material in your DIY bookcase. Once you’ve assessed the quality and integrity of your individual pallets, begin the straightforward task of attaching horizontal shelves to the pallets’ slats. Be sure to mount the pallets using drywall anchors for maximum steadfastness against the wall.

Cinder-Block Bookshelf


Cinder blocks and wood planks form a more perfect union in this affordable shelving project, easy enough for even a novice DIYer to complete. Enhance the structure’s style by painting the boards before inserting them into the cinder blocks.