How To Build Wall Shelves For Books

If you’re anything like me, you love displaying your books in an organized way. I enjoy being able to see my collection and even pick out a book that I might want to read next based on the cover or the title. The problem is, few bookshelves are deep enough to store most of my books. Fortunately, building wall shelves for books isn’t hard at all! Here’s what you need to know:

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1. Measure the wall

Before you start building any wall shelf, you’ll need to measure the height, width, and length of your wall. Take into account any molding or trim that will be on top of the bookshelf and add another inch or two so that it can overlap easily when installed.

Next, you’ll want to check in between studs (the vertical support beams in a structure) because this is where screws will go into when attaching your new bookshelf. You can find these by using a stud finder — which costs about $10 — but there are two other methods as well: one involves tapping with a hammer at intervals along the wall until you hit something solid; another involves using an old-fashioned level as an indicator of where woodwork may be hidden inside drywall or plasterboard walls. Once again: It’s always best if someone who knows what they’re doing installs these things for you.

2. Mark the studs

The first step is to find your studs. You can use a stud finder or just make some marks with the pencil and check them with a level. If you are marking studs for the first time, use an awl to make small holes where you think they will be before marking them. After that, use the hammer to push in one of your nails until it hits a piece of wood behind the wall. If there’s no wood on this side, then there isn’t any on the other side either! If there was wood on this side but not on that one, then go back and make sure that your nail went all the way through both pieces of drywall so that they’re connected together at least once (or else it won’t help).

3. Buy the pieces you need for the shelves

Now that you have your measurements and design in hand, you need to buy the pieces you need for the shelves. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2×8 boards (for a 10-inch shelf, use two 4-foot long boards)
  • 1×4 boards (for a 10-inch shelf, use six 2-foot long boards)
  • wood glue
  • sheetrock screws or other fasteners of choice (1 inch or longer)

4. Cut and fasten the vertical pieces

Now it’s time to put together your bookcase. First, cut the 2x4s to length and attach them using screws so that they’re parallel with each other and flush with the wall studs. Next, attach each vertical piece to its neighbor by drilling a pilot hole into one at an angle, then fastening it down with a screw through both pieces of wood (this will ensure they don’t separate over time). Finally, build something resembling a frame out of four pieces of 2×4 lumber: one horizontal piece right in front of the wall studs; one on top of that; then two more on either side for extra support.

Now that you have your shelf frame built out of 2×4 boards (or whatever else you’re using), drill holes through all four sides where you want your shelves to sit—be sure not to go too close to any edges or corners—and secure them in place by screwing them through all three layers: plywood top layer + shelf + large section below it.

5. Cut and fasten the horizontal pieces

  • Cut and fasten the horizontal pieces:
  • Cut the horizontal pieces to the correct length. Measure from the bottom of your vertical piece to where you want your first shelf to begin, then cut a corresponding piece of 1×2 lumber. Repeat with however many shelves you’d like on your built-in bookshelf, making sure each horizontal board is exactly as long as its corresponding vertical piece (that way, both boards will always be flush).
  • Fasten them to the vertical pieces using wood glue and nails or screws at least every 8 inches on center for maximum strength. Let dry overnight before continuing onto Step 6 below.

6. Attach the shelves to the wall

  • Drill pilot holes in the wall where you want to attach the shelf brackets, taking care not to drill too deep.
  • Attach a level to the bracket and then place it against your wall with those pilot holes. Mark any spots where the bracket isn’t level with pencil before pulling off the bracket and drilling new holes at those marks. Repeat until everything is level, then drive screws into each of these new holes to secure everything in place.
  • Repeat this process for each of your shelves (you’ll probably want two per bookcase), making sure that each set of shelves is parallel with its neighbor as well as straight along its length—this will make things easier when you’re arranging books later on. If necessary, adjust your drilling locations until all brackets are perfectly aligned on both sides of their respective bookshelf faces (and don’t forget about those little brackets that hold up individual shelves within said faces).
  • (optional) If you’ve chosen not go ahead with attaching actual wooden planks onto your wall instead of just using some pre-made shelves like I have done here today – which I must say took me less than 10 minutes total start-to-finish including cutting them down first around 2′ x 4′ size pieces at home depot store locally which they did cut free since I was buying lumber anyway during our recent remodel project 🙂 – then no need yet. However if planning ahead now would help save time later when installing actual wood planks later down road somewhere else maybe across room perhaps…

Now you can attach your shelves to the wall and display your books!

Now you can attach your shelves to the wall and display your books.

If you’re feeling ambitious, consider building a new, better set of shelves. You learned how to build these ones, so it shouldn’t be too hard for you to improve upon them. The skills you learned here could help you build other things around your home—even something as simple as a bookcase or a shelf for storing dishes. The process is also great for children who are learning how to use tools safely and effectively in preparation for future woodworking projects they might want to tackle alone or with friends.


Now you know how to build wall shelves for books! Now that you’ve mastered the basics of these beautiful and practical home furnishings, it’s time to let your imagination take over. You can use a variety of materials to create shelves with different looks and feels—from rustic barn wood for farmhouse charm, to sleek stainless steel for contemporary flair. For even more ideas about adding character to your space, check out our guide on how to decorate wall shelves.

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