Tommy Bookcase

So how do we get a high quality solid wood bookcase without spending $350? Easy. Just build it. Special thanks to our readers for sharing their photos.


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


Author Notes: 

Shopping List: 
  • 3 - 1x12 @ 10feet 
  • 1 - 1x3 @ 10feet 
  • 1/4″ Beadboard, cut at 41 1/2″ wide x 32 1/2″ high 
  • 1 - 1x2 @ 12 feet 
  • 1 - 1x4 @ 6 feet
2 inch finish nails
120 grit sandpaper
paint brush
measuring tape
safety glasses
hearing protection
General Instructions: 

Use 2″ nails to fasten all joints and glue unless otherwise noted. Make sure to fasten all joints to all neighboring boards to reinforce your joints. It is always better to nail from two different directions than just one.

32 1/2" tall by 44 1/2"wide by 3 1/4" deep
Cut List: 
  • A) 2 – 1×12 @ 32 1/2″ (Sides) 
  • B) 2 – 1×12 @ 40″ (Shelves) 
  • C) 1 – 1×3 @ 40″ (Front top trim) 
  • D) 1/4″ Beadboard, cut at 41 1/2″ wide x 32 1/2″ high 
  • E) 1- 1×2 @ 40″ (Footer Support) 
  • F) 2 – 1×4 @ 11 1/2″ on the shortest points, mitered (Side Footers – Router out the top edge with an ogee bit or purchase 4″ base mouldings) 
  • G) 1 – 1×4 @ 41 1/2″ at the shortest points, mitered (Front Footer – Router out the top edge with an ogee bit or purchase 4″ base mouldings) 
  • H) 1 – 1×2 @ 44 1/2″ (Back Tabletop) 
  • I) 1 – 1×12 @ 44 1/2″ (Front Tabletop)
Cutting Instructions: 
Cut all your boards as directed in the cut list, except boards F and G.
Step 1: 

Fastens the shelves, B, to the sides, A, as shown above.

Step 2 Instructions: 

Add the Front Top Trim piece, C, as shown above. Keep outside edges flush.

Step 3 Instructions: 

Add the beadboard, D, to the back as shown above.

Step 4 Instructions: 

Add the footer support as shown above. Keep front edge flush.

Step 5 Instructions: 

Measure the front of the bottom and miter the front footer, piece G, to exactly match. The outside corners will be 45 degrees outward. Then take an exact measurement for the side pieces and cut the footer, mitering the front edge 45 degrees outward.

Step 6 Instructions: 

Add the back tabletop piece, H.

Step 7 Instructions: 

Then the front tabletop, I, and you are done with the framing.

Finish Used: 
Fill holes with wood filler and sand and finish as desired.
Estimated Cost: 
Skill Level: 


What type of wood do you use to make this bookcase? I saw that you use a lot of pine; but I have heard it is soft. I have a LOT of books, so don't want bendy boards. Thank you for your response.

Hi Laurie, there is actually a post in the HOW-TO section that discusses the different types of wood. Pottery Barn actually uses lots of pine these days. Pine has more strength than MDF for shelving.

However, pine will dent and scratch easily.

You can use hardwood plywood for the sides, top and shelves, and then frame the edges out in matching hardwood. This is how PB Kids built this bookcase.

Hope this helps!


Hi Ana! I love your plans! I'm confused as to why we need two tabletop pieces (I and H) instead of just one? I want to make sure I do this right! Thanks!

Hi Ana! I'm just wondering if you have any suggestions for modifying your plans? For example - I want to make these bookcases to go on either side of my fireplace, but I want them wider than in your plan. (I want the total width to be about 52, instead of 44 1/2 inches.) Can I just lengthen the width of each board cut by a certain number of inches? Or will that throw everything off? And what if I want to make the whole thing a little bit deeper - say, 15 inches instead of 13 1/4?

I absolutely LOVE your plans, but sometimes I need to adjust things a little so they will fit in my spaces! Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!!

I just want to add about the comments about different woods. We have a hardwood lumber shop here and I only get my wood from there. Pine does scratch easily, I don't prefer to use pine just because we will be moving several more times before we end up in a home. I just don't want to wait to build stuff I need. :) I built this bookcase out of cherry plywood. It didn't cost as much as solid cherry and since it is cherry it won't scratch or dent as easily as pine. There are tons of options out there. Good luck!