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How to Install a Built-In Bookcase

By Cameron Easey ; Updated April 18, 2017
Bookcases can appear to be built-in to a wall

Bookcases can be added to any room in your house to create a small library of books. Custom bookcases can be built to make them appear built-in or as if they were always a part of the room. This can be done by first determining which wall in the room in which the bookcases should be built. You can then cut and assemble the wood to construct the built-in bookcase.

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Measure the height of the room with a tape measure. Subtract 2 inches from the measurement. An 8-foot ceiling will measure 90 inches. Note the measurement on a piece of paper with the pencil.

Determine the size of bookcase you want to build, such as 48-inches wide and 12-inches deep.

Measure and mark 3/4-inch plywood sheets for the pieces of the bookshelf with the tape measure and pencil. Mark two pieces 12 inches by 90 inches for the sides, one piece 12 inches by 48 inches for the top, and six pieces 11 1/4 inches by 46 inches for the shelves.

Cut the pieces from the plywood using the table saw.

Measure and cut two pieces of plywood that measure 12 inches by 48 inches for the top and bottom of the base. Measure and cut four pieces 2 inches by 10 1/2 inches for the sides and supports. Measure and cut two pieces 3 1/2 inches by 12 inches for the front and back.

Assemble the base of the cabinets. Place the front, side and back pieces together to form the shape of a box. Drill two holes on each edge where two sections meet. Insert a screw into each hole and tighten it with the power drill.

Insert the two support pieces inside the box frame so they 24 inches from each side. Drill holes into the side of the frame and secure the pieces with the screws. Set the top and bottom pieces on the frame and secure them with the screws.

Build the box or frame for the bookcase. Set the two side pieces parallel to each other on their side so they are 46 1/2 inches apart. Set the top piece in place and drill holes into the edges where the pieces meet. Secure the pieces together with the screws.

Measure the length of each side piece of the frame and mark the middle with the pencil. Place a piece of plywood, cut for the shelf, on the marks and drill three holes on each side with the power drill.

Apply a bead of wood glue to each edge of the plywood and set it back in place. Secure the shelf to the frame with the screws.

Measure and cut the height of the 4-by-8 piece of beadboard to 90 inches. Place the beadboard on top of the frame and secure it with finish nails using the nail gun.

Set the base on the floor against the wall, then set the bookcase on the base to see how it will fit.

Things You Will Need

  • ¾-inch plywood sheets
  • Paper and pencil
  • Table saw
  • Circular saw
  • Power drill
  • Screws
  • Wood glue
  • 4-by-8 piece of beadboard
  • Finish nails


Drill holes on the inside edges and use dowels to set adjustable shelves.

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About the Author

Cameron Easey has over 15 years customer service experience, with eight of those years in the insurance industry. He has earned various designations from organizations like the Insurance Institute of America and LOMA. Easey earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from Western Michigan University.

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