Parson's Style Bookshelf

Beginner Projects
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Simple Parson style bookcase that can be used as a console table or scaled to a full bookshelf.

Well, I'm finally feeling like I'm on Alaska time! So excited to get back to work.

You know, I have to share this with you. Speaking at a conference was not nearly as scary as traveling alone. I know, right, I'm 30 years old. How scary can it be? I'm not so sure if it's the fear of other people so much is it is the fear on not having your people. In my case, my family.

When the Ram dropped me off at the airport, I told him, I don't want to go. I was terrified. I reasoned with him - What is wrong with our current life? Why do I need to go to conferences and travel? We are perfectly happy with our life just as it is.

And he said to me, if you don't get out of your comfort zone and do things that are difficult, you will never grow and understand ways that life could get even better. And also, share with a greater audience what you are doing.

So I got on the plane.

And it was a very difficult trip.

And the Ram was right.

I'm back home, full of fresh ideas and recharged. Here are just two of the ideas I had.

I was having a glass of wine with Deanne who does television appearances regularly. And then she asked me why I don't do video on my blog. So I whined about my garage not being perfect, and how I didn't have backdrop and she looked at me and said, "Why don't you hang a curtain up?" Just bought a huge paint drop cloth. Thanks Deanne!

And also, as you all know, I'm smartphone less, which is a huge barrier to twitter (and also keeping up to date on Facebook). I had hoped for a iPhone for my Birthday, but just couldn't justify buying one. But after being at the conference and seeing how amazing twitter can be, I'm so inspired, you might just find some new features on the blog soon!

And also, for you here to build furniture :) , it's going to be an amazing next couple of weeks! I've got so many projects to post, I just know you are going to love them! I'll give you some hints - we got a new member of the family, our dining room is looking both tableless and chairless, and my office needs to be more . . . . So stay tuned for all that!

Today's plan is for a Parson's style bookshelf. Expect more along these lines coming soon.

Sometimes simple isn't always simple to build.  But this time, I think we've done it.

Dimensions shown above.


Shopping List

1 – 12′ 1×12 Boards
5 – 8′ 2×2 Boards
3 -8′ 1×2 Boards (IF you do not have a pocket hole j

Cut List

3 – 1×12 @ 45″ (Shelves)
6 – 2×2 @ 45″ (Shelf Trim)
4 – 2×2 @ 32″ (Legs)
6 – 2×2 @ 11 1/2″ (Shelf End Trim)
6 – 1×2 @ 45″ (IF you do not have a Kreg Jig)

Cutting Instructions

This shelf assumes that your 1x12s are 11 1/2" wide. Make sure you check the width of you 1x12s and adjust the plan accordingly.

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Power Sander
Drill Bit Set


Step 1


If you have a Kreg Jig™, simply drill pocket holes in the sides of the shelves and attach the shelf trim. If you do not have a Kreg Jig™, then you will need to first attach the 1×2 furring strip to the underside of the shelf, and then nail and glue the shelf trim. Use 2 1/2″ finish nails and glue.

Step 2


Build the ends with 3″ screws and glue as shown above. Super simple. You can also use 2″ pocket hole screws if you have a Kreg Jig™.

Step 3


Now just use 3″ screws and glue to attach the ends to the shelves. And that’s it!

Step 4

And for those of you wanting the tower, here’s how you would go about building it. If you are trying to keep yours similiar to the West Elm dimensions, then make your shelf trim and shelves 39″ long. Also, the legs are now 77 3/4″ long.

For general instructions and finishing advice see Get Started Section.

Off to DIY!


TNSLB (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 07:02

Glad you're back and getting into the groove again! I love this plan, it's so simple and so nice looking!

I'm curious if anyone else who has done any of the plans that call for 1x12's can verify what actual size they get? I see them as 11 1/2" wide on all the plans that call for them, but everything I've seen 'in real life' measures at 11 1/4, so wacky!

Laurie (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 07:13

Welcome home! I don't know what your phone situation is exactly, but if you're stuck in a contract with a carrier and can't take advantage of the deals AT&T offers for the iphone you can get and unlocked one (or any other smartphone) on ebay. Also, there are rumors swirling that apple will release an iphone for verizon in January, but who knows if they're true!

Amanda (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 07:18

I agree with Deanne. There's nothing a simple backdrop and some additional lighting (I'm sure you've got portable work lights all over the place) can't conquer! Get to it! I'm a visual person, so between your great plan pics, and the videos, I'm confident I'll know what to do when it's time to start building.

Jenny (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 07:24

I have also found that the 1x12 are actually 11 1/4" wide. When I asked the store clerk about it, he said that 11 1/4" was the standard width for a 1x12. I have had to make modifications to plans that assume the boards are 11.5" wide.

Viola (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 07:44

Ana I am happy you are back and that you had a great experience and time. Looking forward to all of the new ideas you have mentioned. I love the idea of a video. One of my other face book friends just started doing videos for her interior design business. They really are great to view and save to your account for later viewing and reference. I think they can add that extra personal touch and help that some of us need or would like to have, especially since we can't all come to your house for one on one wood working fun.

m4marya (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 08:58

Hi Ana,

glad you came back inspired! I cannot wait for all the new things! I am sure that this was mentioned at the conference, but have you thought about getting an intern? There are tons of students out there that would love the experience, and the chance to put working on your site on their resume, often for free. It would free you up from some of the website maintenance to do the videos and all that other stuff. Check with the nearest community colleges and Universities or just post a position. thought I would mention the idea.


kari (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 09:10

The boards I get from orange are always a bit smaller too. I figured it was kinda like how the 1/2 gallon of ice cream got smaller. They just shave a little bit more off the boards.

Theresa Sales (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 13:41

Its great to hear you've expanded your horizons....can't wait to see what you've got to share!! I love your site and most of the time wish I was in Alaska so I could just stop by and see what you're building next! (I mean that in a friendly way, not as a 'creeper' like my kids call it!)
love your site, keep up the great work!

Kristin (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 15:20

Hey Anna,
Love your plans!
Just a note about twittering on your phone...I just have a plain old boring phone that has a texting plan and you can set up with your Twitter account to just send a text message to your Twitter and it updates your status. You wouldn't be able to check what other people are saying to you, but you could update us every once and awhile when exciting things are happening and you're not by a computer!

Jenna (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 16:00

Almost all of our 1x's have the 1/4" short problem until you get down to 1x4's, 1x3's, and 1x2' every store you go to. I thought it was just us, ha! It is definitely a pain to have to mod practically everything to take into account the reduced width but you get used to it after messing up a project or two ;)

Melissa (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 17:51

TNSLB, I have the same problem with measurements of lumber, especially since I purchase it from four different stores to save money--cut by multiple people, too (making the length vary, as well). It sure would be nice if everything were super-standard! So often I end up using a belt sander desperately trying to cover these things up! ;) You're not alone!

Ana, welcome back! Like others here, I look forward to hearing more about the trip.

Kristen (not verified)

Thu, 10/14/2010 - 04:32

Hi Ana--

Just wanted to put in that Verizon's Droid is great for facebook. It has a Twitter app as well, but I haven't actually used it, so cannot comment on that. I can get my email on it, as well as browse the web. Are iphones actually $500 like you mentioned previously?? I believe we got our Droids for around $100 and at one point it was buy one, get one. Now that they have even newer versions, I'll bet you can get the older ones for pretty cheap. The app store is great too (lots of freebie apps--although I have never been to the iphone app store to compare). I've even read a book I downloaded to the phone from Google. Love my Droid!!