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A narrow timber shelving unit next to a potted plant and chair

Overview

If you're looking for more storage space at home, this bookcase might be the perfect solution. You'd be surprised how easy it is to make with a few simple materials, and its minimalist look will suit almost any room.

Steps

1Cut your timber to size

To make this project easier, you can have your timber cut to size at your local Bunnings.

We had our 2400mm x 1200mm x 17mm form ply cut to:

  • 2000mm x 295mm x 2
  • 565mm x 3
  • 563mm x 4
Lengths of plywood cut to size

2Measure and mark for the shelves

Take one of the long lengths of timber and measure out the positions for the shelves. This bookcase will include a fixed shelf in the centre and four other shelves. Measure and mark the halfway point, which is where the fixed shelf will go.  Square this mark off with a pencil line. Measure and mark the positions for the other shelves.

A person using a measuring tape to mark a measurement on a sheet of plywood

3Transfer the measurements

Line up the other unmarked length of long ply so that it's flush with the marked piece. Transfer the marks for the shelves onto the second piece of ply. This will ensure the shelves are straight and even when you install them.

A person using a measuring tape to mark a measurement on a sheet of plywood

4Draw the lines for the shelves

Once you've marked the shelf positions on both side panels, lay them flat together on the bench and draw straight lines across the panels.

A person drawing a line on a plywood sheet using another sheet as a straight edge

5Mark for the shelf support holes

Use the square to mark the positions where you'll drill holes for the shelf supports. You'll need two supports for each shelf.

A person using a combination square to mark a measurement on a sheet of plywood

6Drill the shelf support holes

When drilling the holes for the shelf supports, you need to be careful not to drill too deeply. A good tip is to wrap masking tape around the 3mm drill bit at the level you want. Now you can safely drill all of the eight holes for the shelf supports.

A person drilling a hole through a sheet of plywood

7Assemble the frame

Two of the 565mm pieces of ply are for the top and bottom of the cupboard. Starting with the top piece, make sure it is flush with the end of the side panel and pre-drill holes using a 5mm bit. Then screw into place using 45mm screws. Attach the other side length panel to the top piece the same way. Then you'll need to add the bottom piece of ply in the same way. It's a good idea to use corner clamps to secure the frame while you're working or get some help from a friend to hold it steady.

A person drilling a hole through two sheets of plywood joined at right angles

8Sand the bookcase

Once the frame is complete, sand it all over with the orbital sander and 180 grit sandpaper for a nice finish. Make sure you sand the shelf edges as well to remove any splinters.

A person sanding the front end of a plywood shelf with an orbital sander

9Paint the bookcase

Wipe the bookcase down to remove any dust before you start painting. You'll need to use masking tape where you're cutting in with a paint brush to ensure the lines are straight. Then use a roller to paint the larger areas. Apply as many coats as needed. It's a good idea to give it a light sand between coats.

A person painting the inside face of a timber shelving unit using a mini roller

10Attach the back to the bookcase

Once the paint is dry, flip the bookcase over to attach the back. Make sure the ply is flush on both sides, then hammer the 25mm soft sheet nails into place. Once the back is secure, use a router to remove any excess. Once the backing is trimmed to size, secure it with more nails.

A person fitting a sheet of ply backing onto a shelving unit

11Sand and wax the shelves

Give the shelves a quick sand and then wipe away any dust. Apply wax to the shelves, which will help to protect them and give them a great finish.

A person sanding a plywood shelf using an orbital sander

12Install the shelves

Insert the shelf supports into the drilled holes, then place the shelves on top of them.

A person fitting a shelf into an open timber shelving unit

13Fill the shelves

All you need to do now is find a good spot for the bookcase and fill it with your favourite books, photos and artwork.
A narrow timber shelving unit next to a potted plant and chair

Suggested products

More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.