×

How to Make Wall to Wall Bookshelves

Wall-to-wall bookcases are an elegant and efficient way to store all manner of items from books to baubles and to create displays of treasured photos, fresh flowers or collectibles.

Preparation

Wall-to-wall bookcases are very efficient because they use the vertical space in the room.
Extended to the ceiling, they make good use of vertical space that might otherwise not be utilized. For this project, assume that the ceiling height is 96 inches and the span of the bookcase is 120 inches. A bookcase shelf should not be more than 30 inches long, so for this project, your would make four cases, each 30 inches wide and 94 inches tall. Of course, you will need to take your own measurements and adjust the instructions to accommodate them. .

Lay two 94-inch long pieces of lumber side by side on your work surface, with the tops and bottoms aligned. Measure and draw a line down the left and right sides of each piece of lumber 2 inches in from the edges. Beginning 12 inches from the top of the board, make a mark along one of the vertical lines every 1 1/2 inches. Stop about 12 inches from the bottom of the board. Use a carpenter's square and a pencil to draw a line across both boards at the marks.

Drill a hole at every place where the vertical lines intersect with the horizontal lines. Use a 1/4-inch drill bit and drill each hole 3/8-inch deep. Use an electric drill be sure to hold it exactly perpendicular. These holes will accommodate the metal shelf holders.

Sand all sides of all the boards using 100-grit and then 150-grit sandpaper. Finish with 220-grit sandpaper. Use an electric sander or a sanding block.

Finish the boards with stain, paint or polyurethane. Use a coat of primer if you are finishing the boards with paint. Finish all sides of the boards even though you will not see some of them.

Assembly

Screw the book cases together using 1 1/4-inch long #10 wood screws. Drill a pilot hole for each screw using an electric drill and a 3/32-inch drill bit. Apply a bead of carpenter's glue to each piece of lumber before you install the screws. Screw the top of the bookcase into the two uprights, making sure the drilled holes in the uprights face inward. The top is the 30-inch long piece of 1-by-10 lumber. It sits on top of the uprights.

Place the bottom shelf (a 28 1/2-inch piece of 1-by-10) so that the bottom of the shelf is 2 inches from the bottom of the uprights, apply glue and screw it in. Install the toe kick, placing it at the bottom of the uprights, butting up against the bottom of the bottom shelf.

Turn the bookcase over so the front (the side with the toe kick) is facing downward. Be careful because the bookcase will not be very sturdy at this point. Square up the case using the carpenter's square. Lay the back (a 30-by-94-inch plywood sheet) down on the case and attach it with brads. Use a hammer.

Stand the bookcase up, repair any dings in the finish and put it in place. Use metal shelf holders pushed into the holes you drilled to install the adjustable shelves. Construct the the other bookcases the same way.

Things You Will Need

  • 8 pieces of 1-by-10 lumber, 94 inches long
  • 24 pieces of 1-by-10 lumber, 28 1/2 inches long
  • 4 pieces of 1-by-10 lumber, 30 inches long
  • 4 pieces of 1-by-2 lumber, 28-1/2 inches long
  • 4 pieces of top-grade ΒΌ-inch birch veneer plywood, each 30 inches by 96 inches
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Electric sander or sanding block
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenter's square
  • Electric drill/driver
  • 1/4-inch drill bit
  • Stain, paint or polyurethane
  • Paintbrushes
  • 3/32-inch drill bit
  • 1-1/4-inch long #10 wood screws
  • Brads
  • Hammer
  • 80 metal shelf holders

Tips

  • You can use a fine hardwood for this project, but Grade A pine would be fine and much less expensive.
  • These are tall bookcases that will be very heavy when loaded with books and other items. They should be attached to the wall for safety.

About the Author

Tanya Lee is a professional writer with more than 30 years experience. She has published extensively in the field of education and as a journalist, the latter in such publications as "High Country News" and "News from Indian Country." Lee holds a M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images