Puzzle Bookcase

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Fits in corners, expands to a wider or narrower width, and stores all in modern style. This clever bookcase is both functional and stylish.

Special thanks to Abby for sharing her photo.

72" Tall x 12" Deep and up to 60" wide


Shopping List

For 1 Side Bookcase, you will need 

4 – 1×12 boards, 8′ long 
1 – 1×3 scrap 
For 1 Cubby, you will need 
1 – 1×12 board, 8′ long 
1 – 3/4″ MDF or Hardwood Plywood at least 30″ x 14″
Common Materials
2 inch screws
2 inch finish nails
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

Cut List for 1 Side Bookcase for the Puzzle Bookcase 

6 – 1×12 @ 18 1/2″ (Shelves) 
2 – 1×12 @ 72 1/2″ (Side and Back) 
1 – 1×12 @ 16 1/2″ (Bottom Cubby Side) 
2 – 1×12 @ 14″ (Upper Cubby Sides) 
1 – 1×3 @ 18 1/2″ (Footer) 
Cut List for 1 Cubby for the Puzzle Bookcase 
1 - 3/4″ MDF or Hardwood Plywood @ 30″ x 14″ (Backs of Cubbies) 
2 – 1×12 @ 30″ (Tops and Bottoms of Cubbies) 
2 – 1×12 @ 12 1/2″ (Sides of Cubbies)
Cutting Instructions

Because you may choose to just build one of the side bookcases, the plans are for just one of the bookcase and one of the cubbies. Double as you see fit.

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Power Sander
General Instructions

If you are painting the bookcase, you can use MDF cut into 11 1/2″ strips, 8 feet long. You can also use A1 Plywood if you would like the look of Maple, Birch or other hardwoods. If you use A1 plywood, you will need to cut the plywood into 11 1/2″ strips, 8 feet long. The strips will then replace the 1x12s. Also, if you use plywood, you will need to finish edges with edge banding. On second thought, many furniture companies are embracing exposed plywood edges – you may like this look on your modern project.

Make straight square cuts. Work with straight boards. Mark out your fastening points before building. Predrill and coutnersink any screw holes. Check for square after each step. Work on a clean level surface. If you are using MDF, use drywall screws, predrilled the entire length of the screw’s shaft, or finish nails. When using MDF avoid fastening within 1″ of the edges. Always use glue and 2″ fasteners unless otherwise directed.


Step 1

Shelves and Side of Bookshelf. Fasten the shelves to the sides of the bookcase as shown above. The measurements shown are from the bottom of the bookcase to the bottom of the shelves. There is a 2 1/2″ clearance under the bottom shelf.

Step 2

Back. Fasten the back to the back of the shelves and sides, keeping the back outside corner flush with the back edge of the sides. You will nail through the back into the back edge of the sides and shelves. Make sure your shelves are properly lined up using the meausrements from step 1.

Step 3

Cubby Sides. Attach the cubby sides as shown above. Keep outside edges flush. The bottom cubby side will reach the bottom of the bookcase.

Step 4

Footer. Fasten the footer in place, as shown above.

Step 5

Step 6

Sides of Cubby. Fasten the sides of the cubby in place, as shown above. Keep outside edges flush.

Step 7

Assmebly. If you are adding the cubbies, make sure you use 1 1/4″ screws to fasten the cubbies to the side bookcases. Also, you may wish to fasten the bookcase to the wall to prevent tipping.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Finish the project by filling nail holes with wood putty. Let dry and sand and finish as desired.


Dani (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 02:24

Oh my gosh, I just found your blog through a friend and I am so excited! Seriously, this may be the best blog I have ever seen. My husbands shop is going to have a new occupant. :)

Carla (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 03:13

Is there a way that you can make your plans printer friendly? I am unable to print the plans effectively.

Kelly O. (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 03:57

okay--seriously!! I am in love with you (in the not so creepy sense!)
You are my hero!
Hubby's gonna get busy building this (He loves woodworking I just need to give him the ideas--or you do !)
thank you for sharing this!

maggs (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 05:38

this is AWESOME! i have wanted this bookcase for ages, but didn't want to fork over the money. now i just need to learn how to build it. thank you!!!!!!!

mom2domgigi (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 05:42

I just found your blog and I am so excited. DH & I have been married for 12 years and just moved into our forever home. We decided that we need some new, nice furniture and your site is SO!!! inspiring. I am going to start small and raid my dad's basement for tools that he no longer uses. Thanks for all your hard work and all the free tutorials. You are amazing!!!!!!

Tiffany (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 05:58

I recently found your blog and love it. And I really love this bookcase, we are moving soon and I can't wait to figure out what pieces we are going to need. Hubby will have lots of projects to do thanks to your great plans.

Travis Schenk (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 08:45

I love this! My wife and I are looking for the perfect corner media stand for our living room. I believe, by modifying the dimensions, that I can put a 40" TV into/onto one of the middle cubbies.

I didn't see any other designs on your site for a corner TV stand. Did I miss anything? Do you have any other suggestions?

Thanks a bunch!!

Journey (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 11:47

I just recently came across your blog - it's wonderful!!!!! Do you have any great ideas/suggestions for a bookcase/desk unit for an office (one wall)?

Renee de Jong (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 13:59

Hi there,

I am loving your plans, and would like to get started with a project- and this would be perfect, as I would like a bookcase!

What is your opinion in getting the timber (lumber) cut to size at the harware store, and then just banging it all together at home? I don't want to invest in a power saw until I am a little more sure that I have what it takes to build a few projects. You make it look easy, but I am still somewhat sceptical that I can do it!


rae333 (not verified)

Mon, 01/25/2010 - 06:24

I love these plans, it would be so much more awesome if you supplied a printable pdf link at the end of your posts so that we dont need to highlight everything to print :)
Keep it up i love it!

Christina (not verified)

Sat, 01/30/2010 - 06:40

Your blog is such an inspiration and very addictive. I love checking it to see what beautiful furnature you are making plans for next.
Thanks for sharing your plans with us!

Kathy B (not verified)

Mon, 02/22/2010 - 09:12

My brother and I built this bookcase last weekend. Neither of us had any wood working experience. Although I think we're both pretty handy.
The plans were very easy to follow, and the bookcase turned out really well. We stained it with ebony wood stain and didn't varnish it. :)

The plans state 4 1x12x8' boards for one book shelf and 1 1x12x8' board for one cubby. However, if you plan it out, you can make all four pieces with only 9 1x12x8' boards.

Thanks for the plans!!

R-foo (not verified)

Wed, 05/12/2010 - 06:57

my husband made this for me for Mothers Day. i love it! thank you so much! i will post a pic to the bragging board after we stain it. thanks again! you're amazing.

honestnicewoman (not verified)

Tue, 07/06/2010 - 11:55

I love this design. I love SO MANY of your designs! My mother did woodwork, and I wish I had paid more attention. She still helps me with some house remodeling. Now its time for me to start organizing my space and show her I can do it too! Thanks for you help and inspiration!! I'm posting to FB and will be adding you to my Blogspot!

kimdavis86 (not verified)

Thu, 08/19/2010 - 17:57

We just made this, and I love love love it!!! It was our first project, so we had some rocky points and learned a lot of good lessons. All in all, it looks great! Thank you!!

kaycee (not verified)

Mon, 10/18/2010 - 14:27

Do you happen to know the dimensions of this if it were to be put in a corner? I mean how much space on each wall you would need? I have a corner I want to put it in but it runs into our glass sliding doors. I would hate to make it and find out it hangs over. Thanks. :)

Guest (not verified)

Mon, 10/24/2011 - 07:43

I just found this site and love it! I just want to mention to the masses that when bringing large heavy wooden furniture into a home with small children, please PLEASE be sure to anchor the furniture to the wall to prevent accidental tipping. I saw the pic of this bookshelf with the baby sitting in front of it, and I cringed just a little (but I'm a worrying mama).