Last Updated on August 6, 2020
If you are new to DIY projects, building a bookshelf is the perfect place to start. Most bookshelves use square cuts and right angles, making them much more comfortable to assemble and work with. Within the broader category of bookshelves and bookcases, there are so many different styles and designs that you will come across. We tried to pick a variety of designs here that will work for the beginner and experienced woodworker. Regardless of the style of your home, there is a bookshelf here that will fill your needs.
Starting off our list of free bookshelf plans you can DIY today is this Crates and Pallet Bookshelf by Jen Wood House. This bookshelf has a rustic look and uses very few materials. This finished piece looks like something out of a magazine without paying hundreds of dollars. This bookshelf plan gives you step by step pictures and instructions and a perfect materials and supplies list. As complicated as this may look to a new DIYer, this project is very well laid out and an excellent option for a first-timer looking to get into some furniture building. You can easily adjust the design of the shelves and spacing to fit certain things that you need, but we love the way this is done.
Next, we have the Kentwood Bookshelf by Ana White. This is a smaller scale design that would work well in a bathroom or a kid’s room. As far as difficulty is concerned, this is a beginner type plan that should not be difficult to complete for a reasonably low price. The instructions for this plan are laid out, and you should have no problem knowing precisely the cuts you need to make to complete this DIY bookshelf. For a free plan, this one is hard to beat.
If you are looking for a mix of both wood and metal in your next bookshelf, this Industrial Bookshelf from by Rogue Engineer could be a good fit. We will not say that this is a challenging build, but it will undoubtedly be more involved than a bookshelf that just uses wood. You will need a couple of extra tools and supplies to get this one done, but in the end, it is hard not to be satisfied with this finished look. This shelf does also cost a bit more than some other plans, coming in around $300, but considering similar bookshelves are selling in stores for over $1000, your time spend on this will be time well spent.
Here we have another bookshelf by Jen Wood House; this one is a Rustic X Design. The plans for this bookshelf are again easy to follow, and if this picture does not make you want one for your home, we are not sure what will. You could paint or stain this unit to match your décor, and you can also vary the length or height of the shelves to fit your wall space perfectly. She estimates that this shelf will take about $75.00 to build. Considering this looks like it would cost several hundred to purchase in a store, that seems like a great buy to us.
These bookshelves are about seven feet tall and would be a fantastic addition to a home library. This is another design modeled off of the Restoration Hardware Kentwood bookshelves, but this plan comes from Infarrantly Creative. What we love about this plan is that they don’t claim to know everything there is about creating and designing bookshelves. In fact, they followed one of the other plans on this list and modified it to work in this space. These are stained, but we could also see these shelves looking great in a bright pop of color to bring an accent piece into a room.
The Cubby Bookshelf from Ana White is a trendy design when it comes to book storage and also toy storage. You can purchase fabric type bins to place inside some or all of these cubbies when your project is complete. The directions to build this bookshelf are very clearly laid out, and the measurements and steps are easy to follow. If you have a particular size bin or container that you want to fit in this bookshelf, be sure to measure it before starting your building. If you like this design and can handle making this project a bit more complicated, you can turn this 9-cube organizer into a 12 or 15 cube organizer.
This Toscana bookshelf is designed from a model that costs almost $800 brand new. This particular model only costs about $80 to build. It seems like these furniture companies make some pretty good margins. The shelves are an essential part of this build as they will give your shelf must more stability. This unit can be built a bit higher and narrower if that works better for your space.
This Arts and Crafts Bookcase from Fine Woodworking is more of a traditional design that could work for both arts and crafts storage as the designer intended, or for a classic looking bookshelf. Because of the size of this unit, you might find that this would also work well in a children’s room. If this is your first woodworking project, you may have a little trouble with some of the cuts when it comes to the decorative pieces on this unit. Outside of that, this bookshelf is a reasonably straightforward design.
The Henry Bookshelf is another design by Ana White. The plans and directions for this bookshelf are just as great as the other Ana White designs we have reviewed in the past. Our favorite part of this bookshelf is the decorative design on the top. It gives it a much more complete look than other shelves. Another positive about this design is the ability to customize the wood in the back of the shelf as well. Another way to customize this shelf is to leave the backboards out and just have the wall color pop through. This design is not overly complicated, and you shouldn’t have any problem completing this as a first-time bookshelf project.
If the plans we have come up with so far are a little too traditional or even a bit rustic for your liking, then this Contemporary Bookcase by Popular Woodworking may be a good fit. The plans and instructions for this project are exact and offer you plenty of pictures and measurements. The problem is that the overall design of this bookcase is quite challenging to pull off. Unless you have a decent amount of woodworking skills under your belt, we don’t recommend taking on a project like this. The good news about this bookshelf is that it is very sturdy and robust and won’t have any trouble accommodating larger and more substantial books.
The inspiration for this super cool bookshelf was a $1000 model that the designer couldn’t contemplate spending. Instead, Rain On A Tin Roof came up with this plan for DIY Modern Rustic Bookshelf. The entire project cost less than $50, and it is a very functional and comfortable to build a shelf. The actual plans to follow are straightforward, and you can tell that they were written and completed by a person who is new to DIY. We love this! When you don’t assume that people know how, when, and where to make specific cuts or holes, then you are giving a handy plan and guide. We love the use of color on this shelf as well and think that could be carried over to a few of the other designs that we found.
Next on our list is this Sawhorse Bookcase by Shanty 2 Chic. This particular model is such an exciting design that we felt like it had to be shared. This bookcase goes beyond functional and becomes a beautiful decorating piece in a home. We love the way this plan is laid out and the simple to follow pictures. Besides the bracket used at the top to pull this all together, the basic design of this shelf is not challenging to build and could be done by a beginner level woodworker. We love the stain they used to give this bookcase a complete and finished look that would look beautiful in any home.
Now, if you want to get really fancy with your woodworking, you can take on the Built in Bookcase Plan by This Old House. The estimated costs on this project are between $200 and $500, and although that may seem high, there are a few things to consider here. First of all, a built-in bookcase is an improvement to a home and not just a piece of furniture. Secondly, to have a contractor come and install one of these would be thousands of dollars. This is a detailed and easy to follow plan, but the concept of a built-in bookcase is designed for the more experienced woodworker. If this is your first project, you may want to opt for something a bit easier.
This Barrister Bookcase from Popular Woodworking is a classic and beautiful design that would bring essential storage to any living room or library. The Barrister Bookcase is a few bookcases stacked together. Since they are built as three individual units, you can arrange this bookcase in a variety of ways. We love this option as you can potentially make as many different units as you would like and place them around a room accordingly. If you are new to woodworking, this design maybe a little more challenging to follow as it is not so simply laid out with step by step pictures. If, however, you want a piece of furniture that will likely get passed down through the generations, this Barrister bookcase is a great option.
If our last selection of a complete built-in unit by This Old House was a little more than you would like to tackle, here is a free plan for a Small Bookcase With Moldings. This is a much less time-consuming project to take on and should only cost you about $70.00 to complete. We love the molding on this bookcase and feel as though it helps to make this project look like a complete design. The red color on this shelf proves that this can be a perfect accent piece in any home décor. The This Old House plans offered for any type of building are very thorough, offer great pictures, and give precise instructions.
This traditional looking Wood Bookcase by Lees Wood Projects is a great DIY project to tackle with these instructions by your side. This is a very detailed step by step plan that will lead you to a beautiful finished project. However, before you start this project, be forewarned that you will need a good amount of tools and some woodworking skills and abilities before starting down this route. If you have the expertise and this is a good look for your home, then you will love this guide.
If you are looking to build a bookcase but don’t want to have a solid wall of wood in your home, this open and airy Craftsman Bookcase from Family Handyman may work. This is a moderately tricky build that will take a good amount of tools to complete. However, you can easily adjust this plan to work for the wall space and number of books you have. We love that this is a lighter design, and because of that, your costs on the wood products will be considerably less as well.
If your motivation for building a bookshelf is for the little ones in your home this Modern Kids Bookrack by Ana White is a great choice. We love the way that the bottom shelves are hung on an angle so that little readers can have a clear view of their book selection. This model is a built more difficult than a standard book shelf but the directions are very clear and easy to follow. We also love the contrasting colors used on this shelf and be sure to read the entire plan for some tips on the painting technique used.
If you are looking for a unique design that doesn’t necessarily hold a ton of books, this DIY Spine Bookshelf is a great option. This is a straightforward build, and the most helpful tip of advice we can give you on this one is to try and hang the spine directly on a stud. You don’t want to have to anchor this entire unit, and since there is no base, you will need to make sure that it is well supported. If you can find the stud hanging, this bookshelf will be a breeze.
This Rolling Bookshelf from Cherished Bliss is the perfect option for the decorator that loves to keep rearranging furniture. We also love this idea for small spaces that need to be used for multi-purposes. The diagonal bracing on the back of this shelf helps to tie the entire look together and add a bit of detail. The overall design of the shelf is not overly complicated, but the directions to build this are not as clear as some others we have found. Mostly you can follow any open shelf design that you like and add some wheels and the x design pattern on the back to get this fantastic looking and functional bookshelf for your home.
Last on our list is this very modern, very easy to make bookshelf from Anikas DIY Life. This shelf can accommodate both books and some prized possessions to add a beautiful display piece to any modern home. The best think about this bookshelf is that it takes only five steps to complete it. This shelf looks much more complicated than it is, and it seems like a piece that people would pay quite a bit of money for. Luckily this is a very inexpensive design, and the bright pictures and instructions will have you completed in no time.
Featured image credit: geralt, Pixabay
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!