How To Build An In Wall Bookshelf

If you’re looking to add a custom built-in bookshelf to your home, this guide will help you make the right cuts and get started.

Cut the opening in the wall

1 Measure the location of the bookshelf.

2 Mark the location of the bookshelf on the wall.

3 Cut out the opening for your bookshelf using a jigsaw or reciprocating saw (you may also want to use a hole saw drill bit, as this can make things easier). Make sure that you leave enough space around all sides so that you don’t end up with an in-wall bookcase that’s too small for its intended purpose. It’s also important to make sure that your framing is straight and level before adding any further support.

Make the cuts

In order to make the cuts, you’ll need a saw. The right saw for the job depends on the thickness of your lumber and how big your bookcase will be. For most projects, a circular saw works best because it can cut through thick wood quickly without bogging down in long cuts.

If you’re using plywood or MDF, it’s important to remember that these materials tend to splinter when cut, so use safety glasses and gloves while operating any power tools near them. Since both materials are also very dusty, wear hearing protection as well as a dust mask during cutting operations (or at least make sure there’s plenty of ventilation in the room).

Install upper and lower cleats

  • Install upper and lower cleats. Use a carpenter’s square to make sure that the cleats are square, and a level to make sure they’re level. If any of your measurements aren’t perfect, adjust them with a hand saw before moving on to step 3.
  • Attach the upper and lower cleats to the wall with 1-1/4″ screws every 12-16″, using a drill (holds up better than nails). Make sure you use screws that are long enough to penetrate through both pieces of wood—this way, if you want to take down or modify this project later on, you can do so easily
  • Cut four boards into shelves by cutting them lengthwise at an angle equal to half their thickness plus 3/8″. For example: If your board is 1″ thick (that’s only slightly thicker than plywood), then cut it at an angle so that its width is 7/8″. This will give it enough room within which its sides won’t buckle outward under weight from books or other objects placed upon them.*If using hardwood lumber (and why wouldn’t you?), make sure it’s moisture resistant—otherwise putty will be necessary for waterproofing as well as aesthetics

Cut the shelves to size

Now you are ready to cut the shelves. You will need a miter saw to do this, and you should use the factory edge of your plywood as reference for cutting. Use a straightedge as well, so that each shelf is exactly the same size and shape.

Use socket wrenches to hold your pieces together tightly while you drill holes through them for screws or nails (depending on how you want to attach them). This step will be easier if you check for levelness first—you can use a straight edge along one side of each piece before drilling holes for screws or nails. If it doesn’t look level when held up against a wall at eye level, adjust until it does! Once all four sides are level, check with a stud sensor again just in case there are any wooden studs where they shouldn’t be before nailing/screwing down each shelf section individually onto its corresponding wall support structure surface area

Install the shelves

  • Use a level to make sure the shelves are straight.
  • Install one shelf at a time, working from the bottom up.
  • Position the first shelf against the wall and use a level to make sure it’s straight. If it isn’t, adjust its position until it is level and mark that spot on your wall with masking tape. Then remove this shelf so you can drill holes for anchors in your wall studs, as instructed by our Bookshelf Anchor Kit instructions (the kit includes instructions for using anchors). When done drilling holes for anchors, install them into their respective locations and set aside your bookcase until you have installed all three or four remaining shelves of this installation phase! Once all of your anchor screws are installed into walls at appropriate heights (2 inches above each other), swing back around to this step where we will show how they should be positioned before placing them onto our In-Wall Bookshelf hardware brackets

Check for squareness

One of the first things to check for is squareness. A carpenter’s square (or framing square) is a tool that can be used to do this. If you don’t have one, you can use any straight edge, like a ruler or tape measure. Measure from corner-to-corner across each shelf and from front-to-back along the same line as your bookshelf will be installed (usually along the bottom).

Make sure these measurements are equal and all corners are 90 degrees. If they aren’t, it means that your bookshelf isn’t square and you’ll have issues installing it on an angle later on down the line.

These steps will help you install a built-in bookshelf.

Before you start, make sure you’ve got all the tools necessary to get the job done. If a hammer and a screwdriver don’t cut it for your project, then consider buying these items as well:

• Tape measure (for measuring length, width, height and depth)

• Stud finder (to locate studs in the wall)

• Electric saw or jigsaw (if cutting wood is involved)


If you are considering installing a built-in bookshelf, this guide is a great place to start. It will help you get the most out of your new bookshelf by making sure it fits in well with the rest of the room and does not stick out like an eyesore. We have covered everything from cutting holes into walls to making shelves, so this should give you all of the knowledge needed for any project.

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