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How to add molding to a bookcase

Updated February 21, 2017

Dressing up a plain wooden bookcase with moulding can transform not only the piece but also the room. Moulding adds elegance and detail to a simple bookcase. Add strips of moulding to the front edges of the bookcase along the sides, top, bottom and shelves to create a total transformation. Moulding is available in many styles, so you can choose the style that best fits the existing woodwork in your home.

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  1. Measure the front face of the bookcase: the width of the top and bottom and the length of the sides.

  2. Measure the moulding to length for the sides, top and bottom, then cut with a mitre saw. Cut the ends at a 45-degree angle so the sides fit with the top and bottom like a picture frame. The outside edges of the moulding should correspond to the measurements of the sides, top and bottom of the bookcase. The inside edges should be shorter due to the angled mitre cuts.

  3. Align the moulding over the front edges of the sides, top and bottom. Hammer finish nails through the moulding into the front edges of the bookcase every 4 to 6 inches along the moulding sections.

  4. Measure from the inside of the side mouldings along the front edge of the shelves. Using the mitre saw, cut the moulding to length to fit the front edge of each shelf between the side moulding strips.

  5. Position the moulding sections over the front edges of each shelf and hammer finish nails every 4 to 6 inches through the moulding into the front edges of the shelves.

  6. Set the nails into the moulding approximately 1/16-inch deep using a nail set. Fill the holes with wood putty using the tip of the putty knife.

  7. Allow the putty to dry overnight, then sand it flush with the surface of the moulding using fine-grit sandpaper.

  8. Paint the moulding to match the existing wood finish. Allow at least 72 hours before using the bookcase.

  9. Tip

    Paint the moulding and the inside back of the bookcase a contrasting colour to add visual interest to the project.


    Wear eye protection when woodworking.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wooden bookcase
  • Tape measure
  • Moulding, 96-inch lengths
  • Pencil
  • Mitre saw
  • Box of finish nails
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Wood finish that matches the bookcase
  • Paintbrush

About the Author

Jonah Morrissey has been writing for print and online publications since 2000. He began his career as a staff reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. Morrissey specializes in topics related to home-and-garden projects, green living and small business. He graduated from Saint Michael's College, earning a B.A. in political science with a minor in journalism and mass communications.

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