Building a Bookcase from Scrap

These are the remains of a desk hutch that I had bought from the “House of Denmark” store years ago. It was a nice hutch with teak veneer, but was no longer useful with my modern 24 inch flat panel monitor.

I decided to try and make a bookcase from these pieces.

I didn’t spend much time designing the bookcase. I just wanted to maximize the use of available material and minimize waste. This is the quick pencil sketch I did.

The trickyest part was the backer for the bookcase. The hutch used a partial backer board. It wasn’t going to be big enough for my bookcase. So I ripped it into thirds on the tablesaw and then resawed them on the bandsaw. Then I could plane the strips to equal thickness (yes you can plane particle board) and glue them to a single sheet of plywood. This gave me a large continuous sheet of plywood with teak veneer covering one side.

Here is the result after much thought and effort. To make the boards the correct length took extra effort because I had to trim the endcap veneers with the tablesaw, crosscut to length and then glue the endcap back on.

The result is much better than any of the $50 particle board bookcases I found in stores. I was surprised at how hard it was to find a SOLID, non-saging, non-particle board bookshelf.


  1. Sandra
    February 15th, 2012 at 02:18 | #1

    it is every nice, it is always nice to find new purpose for old things.

    I want to make a nice and sturdy bookshelf out of old scrap woods but don’t know what equipment I need…..but one thing I know, I need a router for all of the main pieces to have some kind of support from other pcs. aside screws and staples.

    if you don’t mind, could you help guid me with that? if you could, it would be deeply appreciated.

    thank you very much in advance, Sandra

  2. February 15th, 2012 at 09:17 | #2

    As you can see my design is simple and works well because of 2 important elements.
    1. the outer frame is made from thicker pieces of wood.
    2. 1/8″ thin sheet of material nailed to the back of the bookcase creates stability.
    The shelf pieces are removable and resting on shelf supports. The supports are just thin strips of wood that are screwed/glued into place.
    The same strips of wood are used to screw/glue anchor the corners of the outer frame because I wanted to hide any screws.

  3. July 12th, 2012 at 02:49 | #3

    very nice stuff, are you a carpenter? your workshop seems huge, what do you produce?

  4. July 12th, 2012 at 09:43 | #4

    Thanks Karvin! I’m just a hobbyist. I haven’t built too much yet, but I am hoping to find time to finish my daughters 2 beds in ash wood.

  5. July 12th, 2012 at 21:36 | #5

    My father is a carpenter, but he doesn’t have so many machines as you do. He makes most furniture by hands and some basic tools. But that’s ineffective. I think maybe investing in some machines is a good idea, but how much does that cost?

  6. July 12th, 2012 at 22:47 | #6

    Not as much as you might think… I purchased all my tools slowly over many years. Many of the tools are in the few hundred dollar range… especially if you are patient and buy used from craigslist or ebay.

  7. July 14th, 2012 at 03:07 | #7

    Thanks, I’ll advice him to buy more tools.

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