Subway Tile Bookcase

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64" tall x 36" wide x 13" deep

1/4" plywood (1/4 sheet or scraps)
4 - 1x12 @ 8 feet long
6 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long

Common Materials: 
2 inch screws
1 1/4 inch finish nails
2 inch finish nails
wood glue
wood filler
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
measuring tape
safety glasses
hearing protection
circular saw
Cut List: 

A) 2 – 1/4" plywood @ 17 1/2″ x 12 1/2" (Back of the Cubbies)
B) 6 – 1×12 @ 11 1/2″ (Vertical Dividers for all but top shelf)
C) 6 – 1×12 @ 34 1/2″ (Shelves)
D) 1 – 1×12 @ 12 1/4″ (Top Vertical Divider)
E) 2 – 1×12 @ 63 1/2″ (Sides)
F) 4 – 1×2 @ 63 1/2″ (Side Trim)
G) 4 – 1×2 @ 33″ (Top and Bottom Trim)

Project Type: 
Skill Level: 
Estimated Cost: 
General Instructions: 

Cut all your boards. Always use glue and 2″ or longer nails unless otherwise directed.

Step 1

Build your cubbies as shown in this diagram. Tack the back plywood on to the backs of the cubbies. You will need to build two of these.

Step 2

Then piece all the shelves and vertical dividers together. Please note that the above diagram has a typo – the labels B and C are swapped. Also note that the top shelf has a larger clearance and the correct vertical divider to use is piece D here.


Like subway tiles, this interesting take on the cubby bookshelf will store your favorite treasures in style. This plan has been updated per reader comments.

Step 3

Then piece all the shelves and vertical dividers together. Please note that the above diagram has a typo – the labels B and C are swapped. Also note that the top shelf has a larger clearance and the correct vertical divider to use is piece D here.

Step 4

Then add the sides, Pieces E, making sure to nail into each shelf. It is a good idea to check for square at this point. Visit the HOW-TO section for a video on how to check for square. It is always a good idea to mark where the shelves will go on the sides before attempting to nail the board in place. This extra step will save you time in the long run, and your piece will be more square.

Step 5

Now add the side trim, F, as shown above in red. Keep outside edges flush. Make sure you not only nail into the sides, but also into the shelves to reinforce the structure of the bookcase.

Step 6

Add the top and bottom trim, Pieces G. Make sure you nail through the outsides of pieces F into the end edges of pieces G to secure the ends of G. This is shown in the diagram above.

Finishing Instructions

Preparation Instructions: 
Fill nail holes with putty and sand and finish as desired.


Having a grandmother who made her own kitchen cabinets ( this was in the 30's) I come from a long line of can do women. So when I came across your blog It was love at first sight. In just the few days I have "known" you, I have shared with several about your wonderful blog. And to really bless my heart my 16 yod has been perusing your plans to see what she can use for her new bedroom design... is that not cool?
THANK YOU for sharing. You Rock!

Your grandmother is amazing. No power tools in the 30's, or dimensional lumber . . . That is truly amazing!

I see the spirit lives on in you and your daughter! I am so excited that your daughter has an interest in building! Our high school droped the woodworking program because "no one builds furniture and cabinets anymore." This is very sad to me, our next generation not having the interest or capabilities to build . . . and with it, the joy and satisfaction of building something yourself is gone.

Thanks for sharing and visiting my blog! I appreciate your support and enthusiasm!

Ana, Are you aware of any reason why in Google Reader I can no longer see pictures? From the beginning of your blog thru 11/27 they're there, then poof! No more pictures, just text. I know that's an option the author can set in Blogger...

Speaking of kitchen cabinets, I have been considering remodeling the kitchen and keep thinking the upper cabinets are just boxes with shelves and doors, the bottom cabinets are a bit more fancy with the pull out shelves and trash bins, what I am wondering is if you have built any kitchen cabinets. What should be done to protect the wood and is using MDF a option? I love the simple shaker style doors which resemble the doors on the Pottery Barn, Cameron media wall. Do you think its possible? What are your ideas or recommendations.
Thanks for your wonderful blog and plans they are an inspiration.

Hi Ana - I am attempting this book shelf as my first project, making two to go next to my bed.

What kind of wood would you recommend if I was going to stain it black and put a glossy finish on it?

Thanks so much, you are such an inspiration!!!


I am currently working on building this project, well written plans so far, i did however notice these are a lot shorter then the ones at West Elm, No problem though, i was looking for something shorter anyways.



Projects built from this plan. Thank you for submitting brag posts, it's appreciated by all!