DIY Custom Bookshelf Hutch Storage

design and build your own custom furnishings
| Print this plan

Basic custom shelving that you design and build yourself?  Yep!  You can. This tutorial includes video, detailed diagrams, free design configurator that generates a custom cut list, and recommended tools and materials from

RELATED BENCH PLANS: Free plans for the bench shown in the photo here.


Good storage that fits just right is the cornerstone of a tidy, organized, and easy to maintain home.

But every home is different, and getting just the right storage pieces is impossible to find.  The good news is you can build your own.  This tutorial shows you how to build basic shelving using 3/4" plywood.

Video Tutorial - How I Built this Storage Shelving Unit


Dimensions as Shown

Here's the exact dimensions I used for this project.  

design your own shelving system

Tools and Materials Needed

You will need a few tools and materials to do this project:

  • Measuring tape, pencil, speed square, hearing protection, eye protection (the basics)
  • Drill
  • Kreg Pocket Hole Jig (I use the K5) with 1-1/4" pocket hole screws
  • Brad Nailer (I use the Ryobi AirStrike cordless brad nailer) with 5/8" long brad nails
  • 3/4" cabinet grade plywood
  • 3/4" wide edge banding strips in matching wood veneer
  • 1/4" hardwood plywood for the back
  • 1x3 or 1x4 pine boards for bay supports (board feet needed = measure the overall width of the project times two)
  • Finishing supplies to include medium and fine sandpaper, wood filler, primer and paint or wood stain and clear coat

See Also - Open Base Bench Plans

The open base was built by me a couple weeks prior.  It turned out really great and I love the sizing in the space and for my baskets and bins.  The plans are free and available here.


Open Shelf Hutch - Design Your Own Plans

The open shelves on top I just finished.  They could be made taller or even shorter - really endless options here for customization.  You can also use them over other cabinets - kitchen cabinets, console cabinets, or as towers on either side of a tv.  I kept a classic toy storage height - just right for kids being able to put their own toys away, and still room on top for decor.

I first penciled out what I was looking for on scratch paper.

Then I entered the outside dimensions into my free design app.

design your own shelving system

Cutting Plywood Pieces

Download your free custom designed plan from Ana's Furniture Design App.  The plan includes cut list for the carcass pieces.

From there, cut your plywood pieces - use 3/4" cabinet grade hardwood plywood.  Rip with a table saw or track saw, and then cross cut to the specifications in your custom plan.

Finish the front edges with edge banding by ironing on the edge banding, then trimming and sanding the rough edges with a medium grit sanding block.


Carcass Assembly

Once you have your plywood pieces in hand, it's time for assembly.  

Mark out on the plans the location of all pocket holes.  Then drill the pocket holes in the pieces. For the 11-1/4" width, I used two pocket holes, but three could also be used.

carcass assembly diy bookshelf build

Then assemble the carcass.  I started by attaching the verticals to the underside of the top.  Then the shelves to the verticals.

Bay Supports

The plywood carcass on it's own is not enough to keep the project rigid.  Bay supports help with this.  At least one at the top back is recommened, pocket holes on top and side edges. 

A bay support at the front will help as well, and make the project look more finished.  I only pocket holed the ends.  Then just use the 1-1/4" pocket hole screws like regular screws, and screwed through the middle of the bay support into the underside of the top.

bay supports


I highly recommend a back for this piece, as it is at eye level and will help contain the contents of the shelves.  

Use 1/4" plywood - for painting, this could be just about anything.  For staining, match the wood species of the carcass.

Cut about 1/4" overall smaller, so the outside edge is not visible.

Attach to back with glue and 5/8" brad nails to all back edges.

carcass back



To finish, I filled any exposed holes with wood filler and let dry.

Then I did a light sanding with medium grit sandpaper, followed by fine sandpaper using a hand sanding block.

Then I removed all sanding residue with a vacuum with a soft bristled brush attachment.

I applied one coat of primer with a brush and small roller.

Then I applied two coats of cabinet grade paint in a semigloss sheet with a brush and small roller.

I did lightly sand in between coats with fine sandpaper.




Pin For Later! 

DIY Custom Bookshelf Storage