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Well, here is my favorite bookshelf in my home. It’s also probably the strongest. This is one heavy duty tough bookshelf. I love this bookshelf because of it’s simple sturdy design, the exposed legs (exposed legs make a room look bigger), and the perfect sizing. I will also be posting the two other sizes, the 2 shelf and the 4 shelf, so check back.
Image from Ana White, Knock-Off Wood
6 – 8′ length 1x2s (I use the $1 pine furing strips, but you could use maple, poplar, MDF, oak and others)
Cut all your boards. If you are using 3/4″ MDF or 3/4″ Plywood, have Home Depot of Lowes cut the plywood down into 5 – 48″ long strips, 11 1/2″ wide, and then 1 strip, 48″ long and 14″ wide, as shown below. Then cut the pieces to size at home using your miter saw. If Home Depot or Lowes does not do cuts in your area, you will need to cut as shown below. Just remember that the saw blade takes up 1/4″ and you cannot mark all the boards out and cut. You must measure the first board, cut, measure the second, cut, and so forth.
A) 2 – 1×12 @ 38 1/4″ OR 3/4″ MDF or Plywood @ 11 1/2″ x 38 1/4″ (Sides)
Please note that you will need 3 shelves and NOT 2 as shown above.
Fastening Instructions. Use Glue on all joints. Use 2″ nails unless otherwise directed. You can choose to use 2″ screws to screw the box together, but I recommend using a finish nailer for the frame. Always check for square. Before fastening, mark you boards as shown in the diagrams so you know where the boards line up (especially important when working with wider width boards). I even mark the outside of the board so I know where to nail.
Build the Box. Start by nailing through the sides, A (green) into the shelves, B (wood), as shown above. Use the measurements in the above diagram to guide you.
Side Legs. Use the 1 1/4″ nails to nail the sides of the legs, C (Green), to the sides, A, of the bookcase, as shown above. Keep outside edges flush. The legs, C, will over-extend the sides,A, by 3 1/2″.
Front and Back Legs. In the same manner as the side legs, but with 2″ nails, fasten the front and back legs, D (green), to the side legs, C, shelves, B, and sides A.
Attach the inner top trim, E, (green) as shown above. You will need to use the 1 1/4″ nails to nail through the 1×3 front legs into board E. Also nail through the side legs into the end edge of E. Do this on both the front and back of the bookshelf, as shown above. Keep the top edges flush.
Top Outer Trim. Using 2 of the boards F (shown in green above), fasten as shown above. Use glue and 1 1/4″ nails. Keep the top edges flush.
Trimming out the Shelves. Using the remaining 6 boards F, (shown in green above), trim out the edges of all the shelves. Keep all top edges flush with the shelves. Use the 2″ nails and glue.
Covering the back. Attach the back plywood, G, as shown above in green. Use the 1 1/4″ nails and glue. Make sure you mark and nail into all the shelves.
Side Trim Pieces. Using te 1 1/4″ nails, nail the side trim pieces in place as shown above. The measurements shown are from the top to the top of the trim.
Attach the top as shown above. If you are using plywood or MDF, simply position the plywood so it overextends 1″ on the front and side edges and glue and nail in place. You will also need to add edge banding to finish out the plywood edges if you are using plywood.
Attaching the planked pine top. If you are using the pine boards, first attach the 1×3 as shown above in green. Keep back edge flush with the back of the 1×2 (not the plywood). Overhang each side 1″. Nail in place. Then add the 1×12 to the front in the same manner.
Finishing. Fill nail holes with putty. Sand. Attach the edge banding to the plywood if you used 3/4″ plywood for the top. Stain or paint if desired.