How to Add Sliding Panels to Bookcases

Cheryl Munson

Adding sliding panels is a good way to update the look of bookcases. The panels also protect and preserve your books because the paper and cloth materials won’t be exposed to dust, sunlight and moisture. Retrofitting an existing bookcase is an easy do-it-yourself task. Visualize how you want the panels to look, such as matching the existing colors and wood stain of the bookcase, or you can take the opportunity to create a new look with different colors and decorative molding.

Adding bookcase panels helps preserve and protect your book collection.

Step 1

Use a jigsaw and chisel to remove any existing molding pieces on the top or bottom of the bookcase so the front edges are flat and clear of any decoration.

Step 2

Measure the height and width of the bookcase. Divide the width measurement in half. Add 2 inches to the width measurement to keep the edges of the panels concealed when you slide them.

Step 3

Cut two pieces of 4-by-4 lumber post according to your width measurement. These pieces will form the base for the sliding panels and track units.

Step 4

Make stops for the sliding doors by cutting four 1-by-4 pieces to 6 inches long. Glue the stops to the left and right sides of each 4-by-4 piece with contact cement.

Step 5

Stain or prime and paint the wood pieces to match the existing bookcase.

Step 6

Place one 4-by-4 piece flush with the bottom of the bookcase. Place the other piece so it extends 3 inches past the edge of the top of the bookcase.

Step 7

Lay the bookcase on its side on a flat surface. Run a bead of contact cement along the edges and in the middle of the 4-by-4 pieces. Press the pieces firmly to the top and bottom edges of the bookcase. Secure with C-clamps and allow the wood pieces to bond to the bookcase for 24 hours.

Step 8

Measure the length from the bottom edge of the 4-by-4 piece attached to the top, to the top edge of the piece on the bottom. Measure the height of the rail assembly pieces. Subtract the rail height to determine the height for the sliding panels.

Step 9

Use your width measurement to cut the length for the sliding rail tracks. Position the rails on the top and bottom 4-by-4 pieces. Mark screw holes with a carpenter’s pencil. Use a drill to attach the rails.

Step 10

Cut MDF panels to make the doors according to your height and width measurements. Include the height for the track and the 2-inch overlap needed for the width of each panel, as described in Step 2.

Step 11

Determine which panel you will install on the front and back sliding tracks. Attach the rail units to the top and bottom edges of each sliding door panel. Insert the panels onto the tracks to complete your sliding panel bookcase project.