How to Make Built-In DIY Shelves For the Bedroom

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Time

Multiple Days

Complexity

Intermediate

Cost

$101–250

Introduction

Nightstands are just not big enough for everything: lamp, alarm clock, phone, photos of your kids ... so books, magazines, your tablet or your cup of tea ends up on the floor.

This shelf unit gives you about 10 times more space for decorative and essential stuff. And its dazzling design will transform your room. Best of all, it's easy to build with basic tools.

Tools Required

  • Circular saw
  • Drill/driver - cordless
  • Edge-band trimmer
  • Jigsaw
  • Level
  • Miter saw
  • Standard carpentry tools
  • Table Saw (optional)

Materials Required

  • 1-1/2" finish nails
  • 1-1/4-in. trim-head screws
  • 1" finish nails
  • 1/4' shelf pins (28)
  • 1x10 board - 4 lin. ft.
  • 1x3 board - 14 lin. ft.
  • 2-3/4' cabinet screws (10)
  • 2-in. trim-head screws
  • 2" cove molding - 14 lin. ft.
  • 4' x 8' x 3/4' plywood (2)
  • Edge-banding veneer - 70 lin. ft.
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Getting started

The first step is to round up the tools and materials you’ll need to build this project. We used birch plywood because it provided the closest grain match to our bedroom furniture. If you’re planning to stain the shelves to match your furniture, try to find plywood that has a similar grain pattern. For less common plywood like cherry or walnut, check with a local hardwood supplier, cabinet shop or full-service lumberyard.

If you plan to paint, you can build the shelves out of any plywood with tight grain (birch is a good choice). We used a 2-in. cove molding along the top. You probably won’t find this molding at a home center, but you can special-order it or choose a similar profile.

We’ve kept the construction simple to allow you to build this project even if you don’t have a shop full of tools. All of the plywood is joined with trimhead screws and there are a few spots where the screw head holes are visible. If you own a biscuit joiner or doweling jig, you could eliminate visible fasteners by joining the plywood with biscuits or dowels.

The first two steps show how to cut the plywood parts using saw guides and a circular saw. Use the Cutting List/Cutting Diagrams and the diagram at the bottom as a guide. This plan is sized for a queen-size bed. If your bed is wider than 64 in., you’ll have to build the center shelf unit wider. We’ve added 1/16 in. to the length of part H to compensate for plywood that’s only 23/32 in. thick. If your plywood is a full 3/4 in. thick, cut these parts to 24-3/4 in. long instead.

A Note on Tools

Make sure to use a top-quality, 40-tooth carbide blade in your circular saw to reduce chipping and tear-out. A table saw, along with a crosscutting sled, would be a good alternative to a circular saw for cutting the plywood.

Using iron-on edge-banding veneer is an easy way to finish the plywood edges. You’ll find birch and oak edge-banding veneer at home centers, but if you need cherry or some other species, check online or go to a local woodworking supplier.

Buy a cheap iron or find one at a garage sale, but don’t use your clothes iron. Set the iron to a high setting like ‘cotton.’ Practice on a scrap of plywood to get the hang of how fast to move the iron. You want to melt the glue without burning the veneer.

We show an edge-band trimmer that trims both sides at once, but you can also use a single-edge trimmer. You’ll find edge-band trimmers at woodworking stores and online.

Project step-by-step (13)

Step 1

A Note on Tools

Make sure to use a top-quality, 40-tooth carbide blade in your circular saw to reduce chipping and tear-out. A table saw, along with a crosscutting sled, would be a good alternative to a circular saw for cutting the plywood.

Using iron-on edge-banding veneer is an easy way to finish the plywood edges. You’ll find birch and oak edge-banding veneer at home centers, but if you need cherry or some other species, check online or go to a local woodworking supplier.

Buy a cheap iron or find one at a garage sale, but don’t use your clothes iron. Set the iron to a high setting like ‘cotton.’ Practice on a scrap of plywood to get the hang of how fast to move the iron. You want to melt the glue without burning the veneer.

We show an edge-band trimmer that trims both sides at once, but you can also use a single-edge trimmer. You’ll find edge-band trimmers at woodworking stores and online.

Cut plywood sheets into strips

Mark the width of the cut on both ends of the sheet. Align the ends of the straightedge guide with the marks and clamp the ends. Make sure to place the guide on the ‘keeper’ side of the marks. Run the saw along the guide to complete the cut.

Step 2

Cut the strips to length

A crosscut guide allows you to make perfectly square cuts exactly where you want them. Mark the cut location and line up the guide. Clamp the guide and make the cut. Make sure to keep the saw bed tight to the guide fence as you make the cut.