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Bookshelves like this one can be big or small and any size in between. Surprisingly, this type of project can seem a little daunting, yet it is indeed one of the most simple projects to make. I have made several of these in my life because I just could not bring myself to buy inferior products that might look alike but, inside lack the integrity I’m looking for. For about the same amount of money, you can buy the solid wood you need and enjoy the process of making along the way.
Join Paul on this one, because there is so much to learn from making this Simple Bookcase. And don’t just think books; think tools and stowage for goods around the home, the office and then other areas too. Scaling it to suit your needs is dead simple!
Hmmmm…… seem to have seen something very similar in size and construction to this about 5 years ago.
Don’t be so negative. Especially when someone is trying to enrich your life with teaching.
Don’t be so pompous. If a customer has something to say, they should be allowed to say it.
Maybe that’s the problem. People see themselves as entitled customers instead of a group of people coming together over a shared passion. I see negative comments on these videos, and I cannot for the life of me understand how someone can be so negative about the work that is being done by everyone at Woodworking Masterclasses. I understand constructive feedback. I understand suggestions for changes. I do not understand comments like the original.
Paul is nothing but positivity and shares a lifetime of learning with us fortunate folks. Perhaps some might benefit by seeing him as more than just a teacher of woodworking technique.
I love going back to “beginner” projects and seeing how accurately I can make them.
Thanks for this project Paul!
@Koth. I don’t agree with you. First of all the starting comment was not negative at all. It just stated something that was later confirmed as a fact. Secondly, no matter how nicely the product is packed we are all paying customers.
dont be so critical. we all have faults and indirectly point out others is mine.
Ah dang, i was hoping my comment would come in succession for a series of others telling people what not to do, because i thought it would be funny, and only now do i realize you cannot delete a comment. hence, the explanation.
regardless. i feel like this project is intended to be a very simplistic version of a bookshelf in case time is a factor and you are hoping to create something beautiful and strong, while still remaining a weekend project.
Hello! Thank you for the feedback.
Yes, we did a bookshelf a while back but that one had quite a few different features and was significantly more complex. We wanted to do another that was more achievable in a short amount of time.
We have to strike a balance with these projects between introducing new concepts and also providing quick and simple projects.
This project is simple but those of you with more advanced skills can still challenge yourselves to make this quickly and accurately.
We hope to see bunches of these shelves in our user-contributed gallery over the coming weeks.
Will the original shelf videos still be available? I liked some of the advanced design concepts in it. Especially the work on the backboard. I don’t think I have seen that in another project.
I think simple projects like this are very worthwhile, and particularly appreciate that this one is made from wood easily available in any DIY store, making it even more accessible.
Hi Paul, I noted that you included dimensions in both metric and imperial which is greatly appreciated. However where you have all imperial measurements in inches you have a mixture of millimeters and what I assume to be centimeters. Could I suggest that you standardise the metric in millimeters.
The metric values are in mm,mathematically converted from the Imperial. Some rounded, but not all.
PS. I did find one measurement, the bottom width on the side view diagram is in cm.
Guess you know to move the decimal to accomodate this.
Additionally, I see a couple of values (radius of the top) expressed in hundredths of a mm.
My eyes aren’t that good.
Yes I understand that most of the metric values are in mm and very accurately converted from imperial.
However there are three measurements in cm, height of bookshelf, width of base (front view) and the radius used to define the curve of the pediment. Whilst I know and am capable of converting these, my concern is that some newcomers may not understand this and make a very annoying mistake. All three of these include an extremely small 1/10th of a mm Having used these sort of plans for many years and having taught students how to read a plan I understand that it is easy to misinterpret a set of plans where there is room to do so. Your second response below confirms how easy it is to make these mistakes as the radius is in cm’s not hundredths of a mm and the bottom width in side view is in mm not cm. This is not a criticism of Paul’s drawings but rather a suggestion to help others.
I appreciate your reply.
Awesome timing! I was going to build something like this but using 3/4 thick planks thinking that would do, but the 1 1/4 looks sturdy and not as ‘bulky’ as I feared. I think I’ll wait for this series first.
Question though, if I wanted a divider going through the middle of the whole case (for a wide case for example), should I make one tall divider with dadoes that the shelves sit in left and right, or long shelves with dadoes top and bottom that house short dividers? My gut says the former..
When I have had this situation, I have sometimes created two full height bookcases, and a thinner half height case to go in between. Gives a few more options to other users of the shelves (in my case, ‘She who must be obeyed’ who would like somewhere for some flowers, or a candle, or…. Well, you get the idea.)
Depends really on the overall effect required. I usually grab a sheet of paper, do a rough sketch of the area the shelves will go, ink that in, and then play around with configurations in pencil.
I would probably go with the vertical divider and house the shelves into that divider, but you could go either way.
Like Mic van Reijen above, I too find that this comes just in the nick of time — I need about five of these! My wife has made me promise that, when a new book comes in, one goes out. Don’t know how long I’ll be able to get away with shifting them around, so don’t tell her…
I’m curious as to the dimensions of 2×4 lumber in the UK. The boards in the video look wider than the 3-1/2 inches for boards available in the U.S..
Jefrig, in the US, Homedepot sells 5/4” pine planks in 6 and 8 inch widths, which would probably work well for a project like this. You can always glue them edge-wise to get a wider plank if needed.
Brian – do you have a SKU number or model number for Home Depot’s 5/4 pine boards?
Where I am (N. California) H.D’s select pine boards are only 3/4″. I cannot find 4/4 or 5/4 pine boards anywhere, and I don’t want to wrestle with green construction grade 2×4’s…
Here’s the SKU for the 5/4 x 8” from Homedepot: 915009
Note, these aren’t select – there are some knots, but they are way better than 2x4s. The actual thickness is 1”, but I think that would be close enough to the 1.25” in the bookcase plans compared to laminating a bunch of 2x4s. If you can find them at your local store, you should be able to hand-pick some of decent quality. I was happy with the quality they had at my local store, but I’m in the north east US. Maybe they stock different types?
In the UK, we have both US sized stud timber with the rounded corners that measures the same at 1 ½” x 3 ½” and then we have what we call 4×2 that measures 1 ¾” x 3 ¾” for this project I used the latter.
Thank you. I thought the boards in the video looked a little on the heavy side.
This looks like a good project. I hope the 2×4 stock preparation is shown in this video because this is important as there will be a ton of it required. I would love to see how it is done with hand tools only. I have noticed projects start out with “I have prepared my pieces and they are all dead square…” but we did not get to see how that was done. It might be repetitive but that is how we learn by seeing it over and over again like knife walls, chisel work and router planing to depth. Not a complaint, just a constructive request. Looking forward to it. Thanks.
I would like to see that as well. I always struggle to make long board flat by hand with a jack plane. I always end up with a valley in the direction of the grain. Probably when you prepare wood all with hand tool, you need at least a fore plane?
There are videos here dedicated to stock preparation, and Paul’s Common Woodworking site also has some helpful information on stock prep. Might be worthwhile to give that a look and then apply the learning in your own shop. Personally, I learn better by doing rather than watching something over and over.
Will this be going in the house?
How do folks deal with the rounded corners of 2x4s in the US? We could buy 2x8s and rip them but thats a lot of work if you ‘ have a circular saw or some such. Planing off the rounded corners is also very labor intensive.
If you dont want to plane off the rounds , saw them. But with a good sharp plane it takes no time at all. And you get a cardio workout.
The drawing for this project shows the thickness to be 1-1/4, so I expect once you plane the surfaces from 1-1/2 to that there will be little corner radius remaining. Once you edge joint them, I suspect that will take care of the rounded corners completely.
This is why I was questioning the size of the 2×4 in the UK. The sides are 10-1/4 which leaves only 1/4 to remove (assuming 3-1/2 wide 2×4) which is not much room if you have to remove corners. I went out to the shop and experimented and Greg you are correct. First plane down the thickness and be careful to remove material from both sides and you can end up with pretty square corners. Still have to be careful on jointing the edges for gluing as you have to joint at a minimum of 4 edges. Options would be: remove 1/16 on 4 edges and leave the outer edges alone or remove 1/32 from all 6 edges which leave 1/32 to spare.
Anyone care to share ideas about how to secure this to a wall? I’m thinking of simple 90-degree clips with wall anchors, possibly with recesses similar to those used for the hanging hardware in the Wall Shelf project. Other ideas?
Please spare me any vaunted opinions on how it’s stable enough without; Sincere ideas appreciated in advance. Thanks.
Where skirtings prevent the back of the bookshelf from being flush to the wall, I use very thin wedges under the front of the sides. The bookshelf will tilt backwards, its upper back be in contact with the wall, and the risk it will fall forwards is eliminated or greatly reduced.
An additional advantage is that the wedges can be varied to accommodate for a non-horisontal floor.
Great idea, Sven, thank you.
I live in earthquake country and also have a young child in the house. Preventing things from falling is a serious concern of mine as well. If you google earthquake strapping you should come across a variety of options; some of which will be well suited for this design I’m sure.
In your case I would put heavy metal fitting on the back of the sides where it is hidden by the pediment, sticking out inside, and fixed it there with proper screws.
This is a very simple but very useful project. These would go well in the house or in the shop! time to go buy wood!
Where are the next videos?
The first one will be out on Wednesday and then weekly as normal…
I might be the only one, but it was extremely helpful to see the tool list before starting the project. I noticed in the older videos they were under the introduction video. Will we be getting that list for this project? It was always nice to ensure I had the necessary tools, or if I was missing a tool, I could plan ahead to purchase it before starting the project.
On our newer videos, the cut list is on the downloadable drawing on the Introduction page of each project.
What joint could/should I use on the top if I wanted to make the tops of the side panels and the top board flush? Thanks!
I passed on your question on to Paul and below is his answer:
Make a boards the same width as the sides, use exactly the same joint but instead of setting it back make it flush to the front edge.
Do you recommend a particular plug cutter?
No, not really. The plug cutter I use is one made by Hitachi but I no longer have a supplier and do not know if it’s still in production.
Most basic plug cutters are intended for use in a pillar-drill….. You can’t use them safely in a hand drill.
However, even though it’s in a pillar-drill, it appears that the one used in the video (about 34:20 ) has a spring loaded centre-point that positions the cutter on the wood, prevents it skidding and retracts into the stem as it descends; this type can be used in a hand drill.
Hitachi used to make them….. but not, apparently, any more.
They are not easy to find in the UK, but there is one of the same pattern that is made in the USA by ‘Montana’.
They come in sets of three sizes and can be used in either drill configuration.
My only comment on this one is that mine arrived in a sealed plastic wallet and the cutter tip-section of each is straight from the mill, grind-marks-and-all. It relies on your fastest drill speed to produce anything like an acceptable plug.
If you have a set of Diamond sharpening paddles, a few minutes careful tickling on the cutting surface tip where it meets the wood will improve the cut immensely….. and reduce the tip-temperature!
Such a shoddy finish shouldn’t happen when buying a quality tool, but that’s your ha’porth of tar that spoiled this ship.
However, when you have that sorted out it works very well.
Alternatively you can cut dowels on a dowel-plate and trim them to length……………..
Hi Paul! Love this project. I was wondering if you see screws more optimal to reinforce a dado than pinning them with dowels? I realize screws are self clamping but what about the longevity of the screws holding power in end grain? Hope to hear back. Thanks for everything you do!
There is no reason why screws lose their longevity, even in end grain unless they are subjected to extreme forces. The old adage of not screwing into end grain is outdated because the threads are so very different in today’s screws. On the other hand, dowels were primarily used, not as a joint so much as a method for aligning components. My experience has shown that dowels ultimately do come loose, certainly more than screws do.
Thank you so much for the reply!
Hi, I’ve just finished laminating the wood for this project which I brought from a local builder’s supplier – it is redwood pine I believe. In totality the boards seem very heavy and I’m considering trying to build the project with some kind of non-permanent joinery to allow it to be dissembled and moved more easily. The two ideas I came up with were to plug the screw holes with removable plastic or wooden plugs, or to instead use cam-lock fasteners of the type typically used with cheap flat-pack furniture. And obviously to not glue the housing joints.
Any advice on whether either of these would be strong enough without glue, and how good or bad they might look? Or any other suggestions?
P.S. @admin – I notice that there isn’t a topic in the project series for this project – with recent projects it seems the main discussion is instead carrying on under the introduction video. Is that deliberate?
Paul suggests screwing it together and use wooden plugs then split them if you ever needed to take it apart.
In regards to the project series topics, thank you for pointing this out, I have now updated them.
While I love everything about this website so far, it would be great if there was a “Buy List” alongside the cut list… Wood is so expensive right now (2022), as a novice I can’t afford to buy pieces willy nilly. It’s not terribly difficult to discern a buy list from the cut list, but it’s still an extra step.
Have you bought rough lumber before? It’s pointless to tell you to buy x number of 1x6x8’, when you might go to the mill and they only have 7-9” boards 11-13’. You need to look at each board and see if you can get two 3 1/2” boards out of an 8” board or is there a crook and sap and you actually need a 9 1/2. It’s too random. Your time at the lumber yard is part of woodworking.