How to Build Book Shelves Out of Used Material

Written by judi light hopson
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How to Build Book Shelves Out of Used Material
Book shelves can be built easily with used wood pieces all stained to match. (estanteria libros musulmanes image by topmilitar from

You can easily build book shelves out of used materials. By recycling plywood, boards, bricks or stones, book shelves can be constructed in various ways that cost very little. Take time to sketch a nice design and try to recycle materials not stained by water or other substances. Find clean materials of wood that can be sanded, caulked and painted to look relatively new. Used materials can make shelves more beautiful and interesting in many ways since this method of construction invites creativity.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Used sections of plywood
  • Old boards or planks
  • Large stones
  • Used bricks
  • 2-by-10-inch lumber boards
  • Caulking
  • Wood filler
  • Pressure washer
  • Paint or stain
  • Polyurethane

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  1. 1

    Look for old sections of plywood or flooring materials at junk sales or at flea markets. Scout for wood sections or boards of any kind in your basement or a storage shed that might make good building material. Plan to build book shelves with wood materials that can be stained or painted to match. Collect old bricks from builders or a friend's property to use to divide stacked wooden shelves. Large stones along a river bank, in a field or in an abandoned garden area can be used to separate shelves as well.

  2. 2

    Draw shelves as you would like to build them. Purchase a few new boards, if needed, in 2-by-10-inch size to mix with used materials. Buy caulking and wood filler to improve scuffed wood or boards during the preparation stages. Obtain a pressure washer to clean up old bricks or stones, if needed. Buy paint or stain, plus polyurethane, to finish the shelves.

  3. 3

    The following are several ideas on how to create book shelves out of used materials. Install book shelves along a wall, for example, using stacks of brick between new boards. Build a matching cabinet with recycled plywood to fit next to the shelving. Paint or stain all of the wood parts of the shelving and cabinet to match. Cut old plywood sections or boards to stack with stones for shelving as well. Place a plywood section across two stones placed 30 inches apart. Use stones that are all roughly the same size to divide the boards. Separate the boards with sections of wood to hold actual weight. Place the stones between the boards for visual interest.

  4. 4

    Build a square island in the centre of a family room from leftover plywood pieces. Install shelves on all four sides. Paint the unit all black to hide flaws. Cover the top of the island with leftover kitchen countertop material or used bricks. Use boards placed side-by-side in a deck fashion to form the top. Stain the boards light oak or cherry to contrast with the black cabinet island.

  5. 5

    Recycle old metal shelves attached to a wooden framework to create a bookcase. Paint the entire unit white or red, for example. Install wood trim on the front of metal shelves to hide flaws.

Tips and warnings

  • Recycle glass bricks to use between stacked boards for bookcases. Use boards s stained in light oak between the glass brick. Install these shelves in a hallway or area where there is a lot of light.
  • Don't create stacked bookcases from shaky materials. Secure all areas with nails or screws and wooden pieces to separate sections. Add bricks, stones and other materials in ways that bear no weight, since you don't want your shelves to come tumbling down.

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