How to build an easy and cheap bookcase

Written by ken burnside Google
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How to build an easy and cheap bookcase
Build cheap bookshelves to solve this problem (stack of book image by vnlit from

If you own a large number of books, clearing adequate floor space and decreasing clutter can be a priority. Building bookshelves is one way to solve this immediate problem, and it doesn't require that you know any carpentry. Even better, you can create bookshelves cheaply and efficiently, often with found materials.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 16-inch breeze blocks
  • Pine two-by-eights, 5 to 8 feet long
  • Saw
  • 2 carpet remnants, 8 inches by 8 inches
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil

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  1. 1

    Measure the space where the bookshelf will go with the tape measure; be sure to account for the width of your board (roughly 8 inches). For example, to make a 30-inch wide shelf, you need an area that is at least 30 inches wide by 8 inches deep.

  2. 2

    Measure the desired lengths of your two-by-eight boards to prepare for cutting. Place the end of the tape measure at the edge of the board, and measure down its length. Mark the desired length of your bookshelf on the board. If, for example, you were cutting an 8-foot board for 30-inch shelves, you'd make pencil marks at 30 inches, 60 inches and 90 inches. (An 8-foot board is 96 inches, leaving you 6 inches of scrap wood.) The usual advice is to make every measurement twice just to be sure they're in the right place.

  3. 3

    Place the edge of the saw on your pencil marks, and cut through the board. This will, with a 30-inch shelf length, give you 3 boards and a 6-inch long scrap out of an 8-foot two-by-eight board.

  4. 4

    Place the two pieces of carpet remnant where you want the bookshelf to be, about 8 inches out from the wall, and about 14 inches apart.

  5. 5

    Place one breeze block on each carpet remnant. A standard breeze block is 16 inches tall by 8 inches wide by 8 inches deep. Stand the blocks taller than they are wide, with their centre holes face-out so that you can store small items like CD cases in the holes.

  6. 6

    Place your cut shelf lengthwise on top of the breeze blocks. Make sure the plank is wide edge down, so you can put books on it. There should be a breeze block under each end of the shelf.

  7. 7

    Place two more breeze blocks on top of the shelf, one at each end. These breeze blocks should be placed so that they line up with the breeze blocks that you placed under the shelf, so that all their weight lines up to stabilise the shelf.

  8. 8

    Place your second shelf on top of the second set of breeze blocks.

  9. 9

    Place your third pair of breeze blocks on the ends of the second shelf. Again, they should go on each end of the shelf, and should line up with the breeze blocks on the lower level.

  10. 10

    Put your third shelf on the third pair of breeze blocks.

  11. 11

    Repeat steps 9 and 10 until the bookshelf is the desired height. Put two breeze blocks on top of the top shelf, again in line with the other breeze blocks you've placed. The weight of the last pair of breeze blocks will stabilise the bookshelf.

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