How to build a leaning-ladder bookcase

Written by b.t. alo
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You don't need a ladder to make a leaning-ladder bookcase. In fact, you can make a ladder bookcase with 2-by-2 lumber and plywood. A ladder bookcase with a 10-degree lean suits most rooms. But if you want wider shelves you can increase the degree of the lean to 15 or 20 degrees -- going much wider than this will take up more space than a bookcase typically should.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Lumber, 2-by-2
  • Saw
  • Wood screws, 3-inch
  • Drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Lumber, 1-by-1
  • Wood screws, 2-inch
  • Plywood, 3/4 inch
  • Wood screws, 1 5/8 inch
  • Wood putty
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint/varnish
  • Paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Cut 2-by-2 lumber into two lengths of 80 inches and two lengths of 82 inches -- four lengths altogether. Mitre one end of the 82-inch planks to 10 degrees, and mitre the other end to 80 degrees.

  2. 2

    Stand the two 80-inch 2-by-2s upright, 30 inches apart. Position the 82-inch pieces over the top, the 10-degree end sitting flush against the upright pieces. This will make the 82-inch pieces lean away from the wall, with the 80-degree ends sitting flush on the ground.

  3. 3

    Drive four screws through each end of the 82-inch planks into the 80-inch planks, using 3-inch screws and drill. This is the leaning ladder frame of the bookcase.

  4. 4

    Measure up from the bottom of the frame 11 inches, and mark this point on both sides. Measure another 11 inches up and another until you reach the top of the frame -- there will be seven points altogether, which are the shelf positions.

  5. 5

    Cut 14 lengths of 1-by-1 lumber to 32 inches for shelf cleats. Position the cleats across both the upright and the leaning portions of the ladder frame at each 11-inch mark. Screw in place with the 2-inch screws

  6. 6

    Measure the distance between the upright portion of the ladder frame and the leaning portion at each 11-inch point to get the dimensions of the shelves. The width of the shelves will diminish in size as they get higher, but all will be 30 inches long. Cut out each shelf from the plywood with the saw.

  7. 7

    Position each shelf on top of the shelf cleats, and screw in place with 1 5/8-inch screws. Fill the screw holes with wood putty, and let dry. Sand the entire bookcase before painting or varnishing as desired. Position the bookcase with the upright portion flat against the wall once dry.

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