How to Make Bookshelves

I am a wannabe builder.  I love Ana White to pieces and admire her “can-do” attitude when it comes to creating her own furniture.  I so desire to build my own furniture one day but my confidence level is low when it comes to this. All that measuring perfectly scares me.  However, Denise (Operation Restoration: Home Edition mommy) is so easy going I figured I would try my hand at making some custom bookshelves for her living room.  If they aren’t perfect she would totally just roll with it.  So I asked Ana if she would tweak the directions for the Kentwood bookshelves to be 2’ wide by 7’ tall.  Here I am all hot, sweaty and proud of the bookshelves I made.

bookcase plans

 The inspiration for the shelves are the Kenwood Bookshelves from Restoration Hardware.

restoration hardware kentwood

I spent about $60 in wood and screws for each bookcase, which was pretty good considering they are solid wood and fit the specifications I needed. I followed Ana’s instructions exactly when it came to building but here was my cut list.


2 – 1×12 @ 80 3/4″ (sides)
4 – 1×2 @ 11 1/4″ (side trim)
4 – 2×2 @ 82 3/4″ (legs)
4 – 2×2 @ 21 1/2″ (top supports and bottom shelf trim)
6 – 1×12 @ 21 1/2″ (shelves)
8 – 1×2 @ 21 1/2″ (shelf trim)
6 – 1×3 @ 26″ (top)
7 – 3 1/2″ wide planking or 1x4s @ 80″ long (back)

For those of you who build and don’t have a Kreg Jig it is a must have.  You can get the basic one for about $100.  It certainly made making this bookshelf so much easier than it could have been.

building with a kreg jig

This is my third ‘build-from-scratch’ project I have done. I did the Laundry Dresser and the Raised Cedar Garden Boxes. I will say each time you learn something new and it gets easier and easier.  The second bookshelf was better than the first.

kentwood bookcasesmake your own wood bookshelves

Next I tried that tea/vinegar stain combo that I have seen on one of my contributors sites, Brook from Being Brook.  It was really strange but it was fun to try.  I am not sure I will use it again just because it is really unpredictable the color it will turn.  But it was a fun experiment.

I started by first “painting” on some strong English Breakfast Tea.  It changed the color just a bit.

tea stained bookshelves

Then I soaked a bunch of steel wool pads in white vinegar overnight.  Then I painted over the tea with the vinegar/steel wool combo.  It immediately turned into an ashy gray/brown stain.  I thought it was pretty cool.

tea and vinegar stain

pine bookshelves

Then I took a hammer, nails, and sandpaper to it to add some character.  Denise absolutely loves them and they look perfect in the spot we have them in her living room.

operation restoration

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  • Candace

    Ok, that’s it, I am buying a Kreg Jig. Your shelves are great, thanks for the tutorial.

    • Beckie

      You are welcome. Oh it is a must girlfriend. If you do any building it is so worth it!

  • Amanda @ Serenity Now

    Bravo!!! They look awesome, Beckie! :)

  • kenlyn

    LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. You amaze me & are so inspiring!!! Thank you!! The bookcases look fantastic. Great job!!!

  • Kelsey

    You go girl!! They look awesome!

  • Brook @ BeingBrook

    Awesome bookshelves Beckie! They turned out great. Can’t wait to see how they look in the room.

    • Beckie

      Thanks Brook, Denise is so happy with them and I built something. {Squeeeual}

      • Darlene

        Your bookcases are Terrific! I’m new to Pinterest and am loving checking out all the wonderful blogs. I read your post about people not commenting and sadly have to admit-although I have enjoyed many of the ideas and how too’s on the blogs- this is my first comment. I have about 100 blogs that I have added to my favorites. I am adding yours too. Thank you for sharing!

        • Beckie

          Darlene :) You totally just made my day! It’s so nice when someone new likes your work and starts following you. This is my passion and I am truly blessed that I get to do this job daily {happy dance} Glad you like the bookcases! I’m not the best builder, from plans…..But this one was pretty easy! Let me know if you try any of my projects and post a pic!

    • Beckie

      Thanks Brook. I hope to build like you when I grow up.

  • Sandra

    Great job Beckie, they look great! What an awesome thing you are doing for that family. I’m so proud of you for your building skills and for your big heart!

    • Beckie

      Awww thanks Sandra. I have a far way to go but I am excited to one day be on your level ;-)

  • Naomi

    How amazing is that? You rock, sister girl!

    • Beckie

      Thank you Naomi!

  • gail

    gorgeous! There’s no stopping you now!


    • Beckie

      I don’t know about that I am no where near your skill level friend.

  • Shaunna

    LOVE them, friend! Great job with the build!!

  • Tamara

    Awesome! – I was thinking about having new shelves recently but I doubted I could do them myself, since I’m also more a wannabe than a builder.. but this was really motivating to read and see! Great!

  • Liz O

    Your shelves look AWESOME!!!! They look like something you would buy in a fancy upscale furniture place. Love them! Great job.

  • Roberta

    Gorgeous! Love them both in plain pine and stained. They look better than the ones from RH.

  • Teri

    Looks great!! I just started my first project from Ana White, the closet organizer. Hopefully mine will turn out as nice as yours.

  • Jeanette

    Beckie, I sooo proud of you! You did a great job. I just love it when women grab the drill and hammer and make something wonderful. Make sure you note on the bookcases somewhere that you made it and the date. These could be passed down for generations and it would be extremely special for a young woman to know her great, great grandmother made them.
    I have been working with the tea and vinegar too, trying to understand the results. Sometimes you get brown, sometimes grey and if your not careful sometimes black. {Which I kind of liked}

    • Beckie

      Thanks Jeanette, great advice! Let me know if you perfect the tea stain vinegar combo ;-)

  • Tiffany Graham

    Wow! These bookshelves are just what I need in my house! My mom sent my your link and I’m glad I took a peek ;) Thinking I’m going to give em’ a try!

    • Beckie

      Good luck! It is prtty easy if you have a Kreg Jig.

  • Jennie

    So beautiful. I could picture these on both sides of my TV and with her design for a TV cabinet underneath. Wow, who needs a hubby when we could DIY all on our own.

  • Mindy

    Love the pink toolbelt!

  • Laura @ Laura’s Crafty Life

    Wow! I am always impressed when people build things themselves. I keep seeing stuff about the Kreg Jig. I guess it is the thing to have! :)

  • kelley @ Miss Information

    Get out! These are fantastic and I can’t believe it took only $60, I totally need to learn how to build stuff but am so scared to try. You have inspired me! If you have a chance I would love for you to link up on I Freakin Did it Friday over @ Miss Information

  • Melissa

    My hubby and I built us some Ana White bookcases too. :)

    We have got the building bug and have probably built at least 6 or 7 things now. Love it!


    • Beckie

      Very cool off to check it out.

  • Emily@Decorchick

    They are awesome Beckie great job!! And I love the color they turned out. Looks like a very rich cedar. I need to build stuff too. And maybe I would if our garage wasn’t a disaster. Ugh.

    • Beckie

      Emily you think your garage is a mess:) you should see mine…whew!! It overwhelms my husband daily! Glad you love them as much as I do! They are perfect for this families home, and I’m pretty proud of myself or actually building something from plans! Toot, Toot!

  • Jessica Reurich

    Oh Beckie…
    I have been following you for a while now, and have always been truly inspired by your amazing talent…and this just reinforces all that inspiration! Goodonya, for creating such gorgeous shelves…and for making all of us ladies with messy garages feel “normal”

    • Beckie

      Jess, So glad you like them and thank you for following me and loving what I do. Without fans like you, this wouldn’t be possible:)

  • Runt

    I absolutely love the way these turned out. I want to start building my own furniture soooo bad. I refuse to buy furniture that isn’t solid wood – and that makes furniture is quite pricey so I haven’t bought any furniture. Ha! I really want to start building furniture but I don’t have the necessary tools. I bet you can guess what I am asking for for Christmas! =]

    • Beckie

      I get so nervous when it comes to building things from a {plan}, I like to design more in my head. However, I LOVE these bookshelves and I’m glad you like too!

  • Courtney Wilson

    AWESOME job! I build a farmhouse table for my first project (and I was five months pregnant at the time). I can’t WAIT for the weather to warm up a bit so I can make more stuff :) Bookshelves are definitely on my must do list (I swear my books procreate like bunnies).

  • sharanya

    thank you so much! this has inspired me to give it a go, big hugs xoxo

    • Beckie

      u can do it!

  • Carole

    Very cool bookshelves.

    I need something like this flanking my fireplace. Since each side of the fireplace measures out differently (by an inch – go figure – what was the builder thinking?) the only way I’m going to get what I want is to custom build.

    • Beckie

      Ugh! I hate that! Yep building them is the way to go. If you aren’t afraid to tackle it it really is an easy build with the Kreg Jig.

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  • Monica

    These are grrrrreat. I am so inspired! I need one of those in my house! just about the perfect dimensions.

    I have *never, ever, ever, never* built anyyything.

    Where do I start? Would you please list (a very detailed list) of exactly what tools, or benches, or whatnot I would need to be able to complete such a project? I am clueless. CLUELESS. Any books/sites that are a must? And do I have to cut the wood myself or can I purchase it in those dimensions? Where do I buy wood?

    Please impart your wisdom. I feel this is a hobby I am going to need to undertake and eventually master. Life is calling! :)

    Thanks again. they’re awesome. you’re awesome!

    • Beckie

      {Giggle} Thanks, Monica! You are too sweet! Honestly, I would recommend checking out She has a list of basic stuff you need to get started. In my opinion, a chop saw and cordless drill are essentials.

  • Michele

    Wow! Impressive. I LOVE these and the fact that you make it seem possible for anyone to do. I LOVE the idea of building & making things but have always lacked the confidence to just do it. It all seems a bit intimidating but I am now inspired to try. We moved 4years ago and my books are still in boxes. My husband insists he’s going to build the bookshelves and refuses to buy any however my stash of books is growing (thanks to half price bookstore just around the corner….LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that store). Wouldn’t he be surprised to see the new bookshelves I built when he comes home from vacation this weekend. I would love to be able to complete this project before he comes home. How long did it take you…can the tasks be broken down into several days? What is a Kreg Jig and can I complete the project with a nail or screw gun instead? Thanks for sharing photos of your work in progress! The final product looks amazing!

    • Beckie

      Thanks, Michele. The Kreg Jig does make it easier, but, yes, you can use nails and screws if you want to. I did not complete it all in one day. I would say to give yourself a few days to get it done.

  • Heidi Polson

    Hi Beckie,
    I am trying the tea staining method and it seems so simple, but I have a problem. I can not get my steel wool to oxidize at all. It has been two days now and I am getting nothing from it. What am I doing wrong? At first I had it in a plastic container then I moved it to a glass jar and put a lid on it. My husband even added nails to it. Any advice would be great.

    • Beckie

      The only thing I can think of is maybe it is the type of steel wool pads you used. I would try buying a different brand. That is all I can advise. Good luck, and let me know what happens.

  • Kristin R Smith

    :) these are exactly what im looking to make when i get my library painted, and now i have the instructions! Thanks a lot! :)

    • Beckie

      Yay!!! I’d love to hear how they come out.

  • Kassandra

    Where do you buy your wood from? I purchased some from Home Depot and it was more than $60 a bookcase :( So I’d like to know for future reference. Thanks!

    • Beckie

      I purchase all my wood from Lowe’s.

    • disqus_lcgocZ8O6h

      $60 is pretty good for solid wood book shelves. Have you priced the particle board crap in stores? I mean I just looked at a wall unit was $1700 at pottery barn. OYE! I could build the whole thing for a couple hundred bucks in lumber.

      • Beckie

        Definitely! That’s what I love about building my own pieces.