Flat Wall Book Shelves

Submitted by Ana White on Sun, 04/04/2010 - 19:48
| Print this plan

In a children's room, it just makes sense to store books facing flat. Then children can put their own books away. Also, flat bookshelves take up less floor space, a bonus for often tiny secondary bedrooms. Special thanks to Matt, Heather and many other readers for sharing their photos.

I love the trend toward storing children’s books flat, because, let’s face it, it’s no fun to constantly rack books in a traditional bookshelf because your preschooler dug out all the books looking for Goodnight Moon. And this bookrack is particularly wonderful because it is attractive, has several shelves, and takes up only a tiny bit of room.
Handy with a jigsaw? Got a drill? You can build this bookrack.

Overall Dimensions are shown above. Composition is solid wood boards. Footer is base moulding, 3 1/4″ wide.


Shopping List

1 – 12′ 1×6 Board (cut sides out of this board) 

1 – 8′ 1×6 Board (cut shelves out of this board) 
3 – 1×2 Boards 
40″ of 3 1/4″ Base Moulding, between 1/2″ and 1″ thick 
2″ Screws 
Wood Glue 
Wood Filler

Common Materials
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

2 – 1×6 @ 57″ (Sides, Top Cut out in step 1) 

4 – 1×6 @ 22 1/2″ (Shelves) 
11 – 1×2 @ 22 1/2″ (Back Supports and Front Rails) 
3 1/4″ Base Moulding, mitered for footer

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Power Sander


Step 1

Side Cutouts. Using the measurements above to guide you, cut out the sides at the top as shown above. Once one side is cutout to your satisfaction, use it as a pattern for the other side. This will keep the side the same. Use either a bandsaw or a jigsaw.

Step 2

Box. Build the box by using 2″ screws and fastening the shelves to the sides, as shown above. Measurements above are to the bottoms of the shelves.

Step 3

Back Supports. Fasten the back supports to the sides and the shelves. Make sure the bookrack is square before this step. Use 2″ screws and glue.

Step 4

Front Rails. Cut out 4 of the front rails (1×2 @ 22 1/2″) in a simple arch shape above as shown in red. Then, as you did the back supports, fasten the front rails in place. Make sure you bookrack is square before fastening the rails, as this step will set the bookrack.

Step 5

Step 6

Finishing. Fill any holes with wood filler and sand and finish as desired. Screw through the back supports into a stud in the wall to keep the bookrack in place. You could alternatively use a picture hanging kit to fasten the bookrack to the wall.


Renee (not verified)

Mon, 04/05/2010 - 01:34

Oh I have wanted one of these for SO long! But I have never built anything since high school shop... could a beginner do this? Really all you need is a jigsaw and screwdriver??

Don't think I've ever commented on your blog, but I love it, and I love how freely you share of your talents. Thanks so much for all the lovely inspiration (even if I never work up the cajones to build anything!)

GreenerLinen (not verified)

Mon, 04/05/2010 - 02:47

This is a very sweet little bookcase.
My father and I designed and built something like this when I was about 11. (He did most of the designing) But we cut a star design into the top because I was WAY into the constellations at that point.
I think this could be really cute with a personalized design cut into the top too
Keep up the good work.
(P.S. I still have the bookcase we made together. So your children will probably cherish the things you make for them too.)

Leah (not verified)

Mon, 04/05/2010 - 04:45

As a momma, Ana, do you expect these shelves would support the weight of a toddler? I have 2 climbing boys :)

Grandpa (not verified)

Mon, 12/31/2012 - 14:48

My daughter has asked me to build these shelves for a future grandchild. I plan to attach them to the wall with four 3 1/2 inch screws. You just need to be sure the screws go into the center of studs, which you can find with an inexpensive stud finder from any hardware store, and that the back shelf supports are firmly attached to the sides of the shelf. I plan to use two studs and two back supports to distribute the stress and make them strong enough to hold two climbers if necessary. Good luck.

Nicole (not verified)

Mon, 04/05/2010 - 05:36

How would I modify it to include the baseboard cut out on the back so that it sits flush on the wall?

Love this so much Ana! Thank you!

Ana White (not verified)

Mon, 04/05/2010 - 05:39

Nicole, all, I just had this thought myself last night as I went to bed. I would measure the thickness of the baseboard, and then cut out the sides as you are cutting out the top of the sides. Then cut your trim for the footer sides shorter to accommodate this cutout. It's going to need to sit flush with the wall for the books to stay in place.

Laura (not verified)

Mon, 04/05/2010 - 05:46

I just wanted you to know that my husband bought me a jigsaw for my birthday last week! And this looks like a great way to start using it!!! :)

Julie (not verified)

Mon, 04/05/2010 - 05:59

I love storing books face-out because it showcases their beautiful covers and makes it way easier for my kids to find and return books. As another alternative for handy (but not so much wooden) shelves we copied this idea from a friend. You just cut up a vynal rain gutter and buy the end caps and then mount it onto the wall with some screws. It holds tons of books and is very easy to make and wipes clean very easily.

Picture on my blog

Mommy to a 6 y… (not verified)

Mon, 04/05/2010 - 08:46

wow! I came across your site last night while googling plans to build a murphy bed...I was hooked after that! I can't wait to try to make some things myself. I'll be starting with something a little easier like a bookcase first tho, lol!!

Free Plans Made Possible By Our Sponsors