Rustic Bookcase from Fence Slats

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Ever admired a rustic hand built bookcase only to be floored by the price? Well here's a simple way to make one using cedar 1x2's and fence pickets for around $35!

This is a quick and easy project using cedar, but can easily be done with any fencing material. The dimensions are set so you only need two pickets for each side and three on the back, with some extras for the trim and shelves. Or you can splurge and use 1x6 boards if you want a smoother finish to stain. It's a very versatile bookcase!

60" tall x 16.5" wide and 11" deep


Shopping List

• 5 – 1×2 @ 8′
• 11 – cedar pickets
• glue
• nails
• sandpaper

Common Materials
2 inch finish nails
Cut List

4 – 1×2 @ 60″
10 – 1×2 @ 9.5″
4 – 1×2 @ 13.5″
wait to cut fence pickets for each step

Cutting Instructions

Wait to cut all your fence pickets until you measure each space for them.

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Table Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Using glue and 1 1/2 inch nails, build the sides by making a rectangle with two 60″ pieces and two 9.5″ pieces. Be sure to check for square.

Step 2

Use glue and nails to attach the two sides together with four 13.5″ pieces.

Step 3

Measure and mark sides at 15″, 30″ and 45″. Use glue and nails to attach 1×2 pieces at 9.5″. Make sure the pieces have the flat sides up. These will be what you nail your shelf pieces in to.

Step 4

Measure the width of the top of your bookcase and cut two fence slat pieces. Attach with nails and glue.

Step 5

Step 6

Measure the height of the back of your bookcase, and cut 3 slats. We had a bit of overlap from the sides, but the backing fit snugly in between.

Step 7

Measure your shelving space, and cut 8 pieces at that measurement (ours was 16.5″). Hold up a piece of scrap 1×2 and trace the outline. Notch out two outlines along the same side.

Step 8

Use glue and nails to attach to your shelf supports. You may have to shave off a little width to fit them both inside.

Step 9

Use a table saw to shave off any extra width from your un-notched side.

Step 10

Measure for your front trim. Our front measured 2 1/8″ and we were able to get two pieces from one board. We used the scrap 1" piece for the inner shelf trim.

Step 11

Attach the front side trim. Use glue, and secure with nails.

Step 12

Attach your middle shelf trim. We used the 1″ thick scrap from the first ripped board for the three inner shelves. Use the thicker width for the top and bottom trim.

Step 13

Attach your last two pieces with glue and nails.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Finish Used
We did minimal sanding around the cut edges to preserve a very rustic look. The cedar is a nice color and finish, but if you like you can age it to a grayish look by soaking steel wool in vinegar overnight and brushing it onto the wood.
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