How to make a D.I.Y. kids wooden bookshelf

jess brown
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Project Overview

This kids wooden bookshelf and storage unit lets you put your child’s favourite books or toys on display. It’s really easy to make and you can paint it to suit their room and tastes. Continue to step-by-step instructions
excess glue
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Using tape to catch excess glue

Isn’t it annoying when you’re gluing two pieces of timber together and the excess glue ends up on the surface. Thankfully, there is a solution. Simply join the two pieces of wood, then run some tape along the join. Use a utility knife to cut the tape along the join. Then apply the glue to each of the edges you want to join. When you clamp the timber together, glue will ooze over the tape and not the wood. Remove the tape before the glue dries. The result? A perfect join and glue free timber.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Cut your timber to size
2 Cut an angle into the side panels
3 Attach the shelves
4 Attach the shevles
5 Attach the back
6 Cut and attach the trim
7 Putty and sand the book storage unit
8 Prime and paint the book storage unit
9 Time to add the books
  • Step 1. Cut your timber to size

    Cut the MDF board to:

    • 200mm x 16mm x 950mm x 2 (sides)
    • 750mm x 16mm x 950mm x 1 (back)
    • 110mm x 16mm x 715mm x 1 (top shelf)
    • 190mm x 16mm x 715mm x 1 (lower shelf)
    • 200mm x 16mm x 715mm x 1 (base)

    Cut the edging fascia trim to the following lengths:

    • 750mm x 2
  • Step 2. Cut an angle into the side panels

    The side panels of this unit will rake back. Take one of the 200mm x 16mm x 950mm lengths and make a mark 50mm from the back edge and then 340mm up from the front edge. Join those two marks with a pencil line.  Then cut along it with the circular saw. When cutting MDF always work in a well ventilated area and use appropriate safety gear, including a respirator mask. Repeat this to make the second side.
  • Step 3. Attach the shelves

    Lay out the 200mm x 16mm x 715mm base and one of the sides you cut. Glue the edges, then clamp them together and secure into place with the nail gun. Repeat this for the other side as well.
  • Step 4. Attach the shevles

    Measure 310mm up the side from the base and mark for a shelf. The underside of the shelf will sit on this mark. Apply glue to the ends of the shelf and put it in place. Then you can secure it with the nail gun. A handy tip is to use the set square to mark the face side for where the nails should go. Measure 305mm up from the first shelf and mark for the second shelf. Glue this and fix this second shelf into place.
  • Step 5. Attach the back

    Apply a bead of glue on the backs of the shelves and around the frame of the storage unit. Then with someone to help you, lift the MDF backing board into place, making sure the edges are flush. Use the nail gun to secure the back. A timber offcut underneath the unit is handy to hold the frame secure while you do this. 
  • Step 6. Cut and attach the trim

    Measure and mark the scalloped edged trim to fit the top and lower shelves. Make sure the pattern is even on both sides. Use a circular saw to cut the trim where you marked. Before fixing off, make sure that the top of the edging is not flush with the top of the shelf, but has a 30mm lip – this is to stop books from slipping off. Attach the scalloped edging to both shelves with glue and a nail gun. 
  • Step 7. Putty and sand the book storage unit

  • Step 8. Prime and paint the book storage unit

    It’s important to give the unit an undercoat to seal it. After it has dried, you can paint it any colour you like to suit your décor. We painted ours white and the trim on the shelves two different shades of pink. Apply as many coats of paint as needed. Leave the unit to dry between coats and give it a light sand with 240 grit sandpaper. To finish off, seal the unit with a clear varnish to protect the paint and make it easier to clean.
  • Step 9. Time to add the books

    Once the varnish is dry, move the book storage unit into place. This unit can be hung on the wall or can stand on the floor. If putting on the floor, it’s a good idea to attach it to the wall for safety reasons. Now all that’s left to do is get your kids to put their favourite books and things on the shelves to display.
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