Grace's Bookshelves - Plans for Two

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Grace's Bookshelves - Plans for Two

If you need storage bad in your home, but have the tinest of budgets, this plan is for you. Smartly designed, you can get exactly two bookshelves from one sheet of 3/4" plywood or MDF. With some simple 1x2 trim and standard baskets or bins, a simple bookshelf can become a stylish storage center.

Grace's Bookshelves - Free easy plans


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


Author Notes: 

Shopping List: 

1 – Sheet of 3/4″ MDF (painted, cheapest option) OR 1 Sheet of 3/4″ Hardwood Plywood (wood look) OR 4 - 1×12 pine boards (rustic look) (1×12 is 11 1/2″ wide, and can be interchanged with the plywood strips)
10 – 1×2 pine boards (should be less than $1 each)

1 1/4 inch screws
1 1/2 inch screws
1 1/4 inch finish nails
2 inch finish nails
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
measuring tape
safety glasses
hearing protection
49" wide x 30" tall x 14 1/2" wide - fits 8 standard fabric drawers/cubes
Cut List: 

Cut List for 2 Bookshelves (YOU CAN HALF THE RECIPE FOR 1 BOOKCASE)
A) 4 – 3/4″ MDF @ 11 1/2 x 44″ (Shelves)
B) 4 – 3/4″ MDF @ 11 1/2″ x 25 3/4″ (Sides)
C) 4 – 1×2 @ 44″ (Top Supports)
D) 8 – 1×2 @ 29 3/4” (Legs)
E) 12 – 1×2 @ 42 1/2″ (Shelf Trim)
F) 4 – 1×2 @ 11 1/2″ (Bottom Trim)
G) 2 – 3/4″ MDF @ 11 1/2″ x 49″ (Top)
H) 4 – 1×2 @ 49″ (Top Trim)

Cutting Instructions: 
THIS PLAN IS FOR 2 BOOKCASES!!! Have Home Depot or Lowes cut your sheet of MDF into 11 1/2″ strips, 8 feet long. Remeber that the saw blade takes up 1/4″ (approximately) so you CANNOT mark the plywood and cut. You must mark one cut, cut, mark the next cut and so forth. General Directions. See the post on choosing your wood type. I built my bookcases out of MDF and had success by not nailing within 1″ of the edges. I used lots of glue. Cut all your boards first and use 2″ nails unless otherwise specified. Always take a square after each step (See HOW-TO section).
Simple bookshelves cutting layout
Step 1: 

Have your plywood or MDF cut into 11 1/2" wide strips to create 1x12 boards. Otherwise, you can use dimensional pine 1x12 boards, or even MDF shelving of any width. Carefully follow the cutting layout here to conserve boards and get exactly two bookshelves out of 1 sheet of plywood.

Simple Bookshelf Plans - attach the shelves.
Step 2 Instructions: 

Attach the sides to the shelves with either 2" nails and glue or 2" screws and glue. This shelf is fully framed, so nails will suffice, but screws - though harder to hide - are stronger. I've had Grace's bookshelves for a couple of years, and they are still going strong!

Don't forget that you are building two :)

Simple bookshelf plans - attach the supports.
Step 3 Instructions: 

Top Supports. Add the top supports (C, Green) as shown above.

Simple bookshelf plans - attach the top.
Step 4 Instructions: 

Attach the top to the bookcase as shown above. You can fasten through the supports to hide screw/nail holes.

Simple Bookshelves Plan - Bottom Supports.
Step 5 Instructions: 

Use 1 1/4" nails or screws and glue to attach the base supports to the bottom. You may need to cut to fit.

Simple Bookshelf Plan - Screw the legs on
Step 6 Instructions: 

Now it's time for the legs. Flush to the top and outsides. Use 2" finish nails and glue or screws and glue.

Step 7 Instructions: 

Shelf trim. Attach the shelf trim just like you did the legs. You should also fasten 2" finish nails through the sides of the legs into the shelf trim.

Step 8 Instructions: 

Finally, attach the top trim as shown above. I would use finish nails here to hide holes. Don't forget your glue.

Step 9 Instructions: 

Fill nail holes with putty and sand and finish as desired.

Project Type: 
Estimated Cost: 
Skill Level: 


Thanks for the photos, Ana. With the layout plan (what do you call that?) and your build plans you have enhanced what was an awesome resource to start with!

These are really amazing! Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge. I know that this is a sight for woman to get their woodworking on, but my husband and 12 year old son are learning to build this year together, and I am certain he will enjoy looking through your site as well!

I just found you-You have created a very inspiring blog, I feel like I can go get some lumber and put a project together in no time. I am a devoted follower now!!

I cannot tell you how giddy I am to have found your blog through Be Different...Act Normal. You are my hero! ;-) LOVE these book cases. Did you buy your storage containers from PB Kids or did you find them somewhere else? This is going on my To Do List for sure!

Storage Containers are from PBKids. That was the best I could find. If you use this link, the sale is even better for some reason. The bins are $6.99 for the solid, $8.99 for the dotted, and the HUGE tote was $25. The Tote is huge (see post on Goofing Off) my daughter and I can fit inside it together. Great place for stuffed animals and blankets. Very high quality stuff.

Here is the link:

Hi Anna,
First of all thank you for this site and all the cool plans. I made the doll bunkbeds (x2) for my two daughters for Christmas and they absolutely love them.
My question on these bookshelves is regarding the height of the shelf openings after trimming out. You have a post in this thread stating that the opening is 11 1/2" high but all the diagrams show 11" high and the baskets you reference from PBKids are 14" high. I'm not sure what "standard" baskets are but should we tweak the height of our bookshelf to accomodate a certain basket or are there plenty of basket options out there?

I may have answered my own question. Apologies for not reading the PBKids site more closely. Looks like you used the 10x10" square popup baskets for your shelves? Is that correct? If so that fits well with the openings.

I read your project on U Create. These projects you're creating are awesome. I feel inspired! I became a facebook Fan.
N. Kimmel

oh man I wish I had found your blog before Christmas! We converted our loft office into a playroom and built shelves very similar to these, but being amateur carpenters, they didn't turn out quite how my hubby was hoping. So glad I found you through Ucreate and that you didn't quit blogging!!

Love this. Wonder, based upon the measurements, the actual shelf space should hold 12x12 paper, right? It's 12 1/2 between shelves? If that is the case this would be awesome for scrapbook room!

Dana, after you put the trim on the face of the shelves, the height is only 11 1/2". You will need to just add an extra 2" to the height of all the sides and the legs. Then add 1" between the shelves when you fasten to the sides. This will affect your plywood layout for cutting, so be aware of this.

First of all, I love your pink sawhorses. :)

I found your blog on Ucreate and I felt an instant bond when I saw your before and after pictures of your daughter's room! I am going to make a set of these for both my girls' room and my boy's room. Thank you so much!

you.are.amazing. I am so glad that Ucreate had you be a guest blogger for a day.

These are exactly what i'm wanting for my daughter's room and was going to bug hubby to make, maybe i'll just tackle it myself. It sure would be faster!!!

So smiling here. :) I can't wait for my workshop to get organized! I am going to try one of your plans! One day. Soon!


Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU! Can you tell that I'm excited? I have been begging my husband to build something like this for the past year! I can't wait to show him this plan! YOU'RE AWESOME! ~Lisa

You are AWESOME!!!!!!! I am so excited I found your Blog- almost every piece of furniture you have palns for are one I love! We are going to make the bookcases this weekend! Thank You Thank You Thank You!!!!!!

GREAT JOB! I mean WOW! These look great and I'm a big PB fan...not the PB price though. Thanks for sharing all the detailed plans too.

Oh my! Found you through UCreate. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your blog. I'm not sure my hubby thinks I'm capable, but I am totally learning how to do this. Thanks for making it attainable!!

Ana, I have never made anything like this in my life, but I've been wanting to learn how to build. That being said, do you think this would be a good beginning project? It doesn't seem to take a lot of special tools.


I'm dying to get an nail gun~ Could you tell me what to look for, what kind you have, brand nails you prefer and what size air compressor?? I know that's an awful lot of questions, but I don't know much about them! It's very difficult for me to keep everything square when I'm pounding nails in the 'old fashion' way!
Babymichaels (at) hotmail (dot) com
or mamacancraft.blogspot
Thanks!! :)

This is a great beginner project. Not only is the entry cost low, it is fairly simple and will teach you basic skills like lining up your boards and cutting your trim pieces flush.

I have all the pictures of building these bookcases. I will post a post on working with MDF and basic construction skills, so check back.

Good luck, and thank you all for commenting and stopping by!

Ana - I must be blind or dumb. I cannot find the website for the baskets...Can you email me the site at please. LOVE your site, what an inspiration to us all! You are doing what I dream of doing... I am sooo glad I found you!

Ana - I love your site! Wow! Could you post the plans to add doors (four) to this simple bookcase? I've been looking for a lowboy/hutch for my kitchen and this would be perfect with doors.

Ana-My husband and I built this bookcase for the boys' playroom. Your plans and tutorial were a great help! We have plans to do other projects in the future. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and I look forward to seeing what you come up with next!!

This week at Kmart of all places they have some pop up square totes on sale for $2.50!!! They come in green, pink, blue, red and beige. The beige are on sale for $5.99

I know you get a lot of questions, but I'm going to add one more... I love these bookshelves, just what I need for my dining room that we are converting to an office... My problem is that I need one that is 43" long(6" shorter than your plan) and one that is 54" long (6" longer than your plan). So my questions, do you think I can still make 2 out of one piece of MDF? I am assuming my shelf pieces would be cut 6" longer or shorter - depending on which one I am making - correct? and last question, do you think adding 6 inches to the length will effect the integrety/strength of the unit? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. I want to try to make these myself - without hubbys help!!!

So, found the blog today through the Shanty2Chic girls. Love love love! Thanks for all the inspiration!

I was wondering, do you think these shelves would be large enough for a diaper changing station? Big enough for the changing pad and for a little bin next to it for supplies?

I love everything! Thanks for it all!

ultimate stupid question: Can Home depot make all the cuts I need? I don't have a special saw at home to cut this. but dang, I need to make this!

mikki, lowe's cut all my boards. this really helps! I would call first because some Home Depots and Lowes do and some don't. I would try other hardware stores, too.

I am ubber excited about starting this project. I will be elated if my shelves turn out 1/2 as nice as yours. Thanks for your posts & inspiration. You Rule!!!!

I found you through Shanty2Chic and I am already hooked! My husband and I just picked up all of our materials today for these bookshelves and are about to get started. Our first baby is due in four and a half weeks and these will go in the nursery. So far the material gathering has been easy and we got everything cut at Home Depot. I'll post again when we are finished. Thanks for these wonderful plans! :)

OOOoooohhhhhhh Ana!!! I can't tell you how excited I am to have found your blog. I also LOVE furniture and am hopeful that I will get to do a few projects this Summer. Was wondering if you have any plans for a Cal King Platform bed? Thank you again. This is just what a busy wanna-be building mom needs!

I just built this!  I am so excited!   I finally built something!

BUT.....They don't seem very stable....they wobble a bit lengthwise.  How would you fix this?  
I haven't tested them with books and toys, but would these sag if there were too many books on them?

Hi Ana, wonderful plans! I'd like to build these shelves, but I'm having an awful time trying to read the text in the plan illustrations (such as the cutting layout.) Clicking on the pics allows me to "View Image," but it's the same small size. Am I missing something somewhere on the page that will take me to a larger image to view?  Thanks!!  : )

Hey Ana!

I love the new site.  I've got a question for you though.  On some of your projects you list the projected cost.  What's the projected cost on this one?  
Thanks for the wonderful plans!  Keep them coming!

These were the first things my hubby and I built off of your site and unfortunately have had a heck of a time with them.  We are not inexperienced builders, have built a home and several pieces of furniture.  We ripped 1x2's from 1x8's because furring strips at HD looked terrible.  We measured several times, read over the plans and found that the shelf trim pieces were too long by almost an 1 1/2 in. . Rather than 42 1/2 in. we had to cut to 41 in. instead. Also, in our case we found that the top side overhang was 1 1/2 in  instead of 1 3/4in.  Not really a big deal, but tedious to have to go back and cut every piece again.  We ended up making three for our sunroom/library and it was time well spent with my hubby!

I dont find the length of the 1x2 pine boards i need to buy. Can you let me know how many is really needed? It was mentioned 10, but the sum of all measurements for 1x2s added upto 97.16ft which would require me to find 10 10feet 1x2s. I dont find them in homedepot of lowes and even if we find they are more than 4-5$ per piece. Can you please advice based on what you have done.


I dont find the length of the 1x2 pine boards i need to buy. Can you let me know how many is really needed? You mentioned 10, but the sum of all measurements for 1x2s added upto 97.16ft which would require me to find 10 10feet 1x2s. I dont find them in homedepot of lowes and even if we find they are more than 4-5$ per piece. Please advice.

I also had problems with this. If you go to their website, Lowes has what are called "furring strips" for less than $1 (in my area). They come in at least 8ft. lengths, so even if you need to buy 13- 8ft lengths, it still should come in under $20 for all materials. Obviously, this would change how you made your cuts if Ana was using 10ft long pieces.

Hope that is helpful.

Hi Ana! I'm in the process of my FIRST project and am so excited about it! Quick question: I am wanting to stain my finished project. I am using oak hardwood plywood for the majority of the project. The plans call for 1 x2 pine boards for the trim. Will this look okay in the end, using two different woods, if I'm wanting to stain it a dark espresso?

Thanks for sharing your design as well as the exact information on how it is done. It is very helpful especially for me who is planning to make my own design in furniture's. I've been starting to study on how to create a unique, simple yet affordable furniture's. This is one good way to start my dreams by just starting on your simple design we can create a unique and stand out creation out from a simple imagination.

business storage

Thanks for sharing your design as well as the exact information on how it is done. It is very helpful especially for me who is planning to make my own design in furniture's. I've been starting to study on how to create a unique, simple yet affordable furniture's. This is one good way to start my dreams by just starting on your simple design we can create a unique and stand out creation out from a simple imagination.

business storage

I want to build this a TV stand for my daughter and am VERY new at this. Could you clarify how it to do it using a kreg jig?