A DIY bookcase can immediately make a room better. It exudes a sense of visual familiarity and comfort, in addition to providing more storage space.

However, bookcases can cost hundreds of dollars or more. Meanwhile, discount bookcases at stores like IKEA are often generic-looking, easily broken, difficult to put together, or a combination of all three. The attractive alternative? Make your own DIY bookcase using upcycled materials.

There are a wide variety of bookcases you can build with upcycled materials. In many of the cases, the process is simple enough for anyone to undertake. What you have to decide is the type of bookcase you want, in regard to both the style and size.

From panel door bookcases to one made out of a grandfather clock, there are a variety of tutorials to aid in your bookcase-building endeavor.

One of the things that can help most is knowing which materials can be used resourcefully, as a main cog in the building process. Some materials include:

Use a Door for a Panel Shelf DIY Bookcase

A spare door can be found fairly easily at a junkyard, or you can just use one of your own if it’s not being used. A solid and heavy door can serve as a great building block in constructing a panel shelf bookcase. First, cut it in half using a table saw. Make sure the dowels are intact. If they’re not, replace them.

01-DIY Bookcase

For a cleaner look if there’s old paint on the door, use a paint chipper – leave the door outside for a few weeks to make this process easier – and then sand it down. This will prepare it for a new paint job that represents your desired bookcase look.

With the two-door pieces primed after a new coat of paint or two, lay the two pieces down and start the configuration process. First, use plywood for the top, bottom and shelves – plywood can be found easily and cheaply at home improvement stores.

Use a device to attach the shelves, and make sure to use a leveler to ensure the shelves are not lopsided. Now it’s time to move onto building the back of the bookcase. For this, use two pieces of cull bin material sized accordingly, with one piece running from the top to the last shelf.

You can use whatever materials fit and look good for the back piece, as long as the shelves are level and the bookcases are sturdily holding it all. Scrap molding for the bottom and crown molding for the top provide extra oomph. When your panel shelf bookcase is all finished, it’s a sight to behold.

Embed a Clock

If you have a clock that you absolutely love and whose style fits a room’s charm, fun and upcycle-friendly idea is to build a bookcase around it. Most circular clocks will work. The key is using or building a bookshelf with a circular opening.

You may have one that can already be used. If not, then use any bookcase-building technique and pop a circular hole through wherever you would like the clock to go. Placing the clock on an upper shelf, behind the circle, produces a unique DIY bookcase that will have anyone impressed.

02-DIY Bookcase Clock

Consider All Material Possibilities

If you don’t have a sturdy door at your disposal or a circular-minded bookcase template, there are plenty of ideas with more minimalist options as well. The number of upcycled bookcasetutorials are ample, so be sure to look through them.

Some other materials on that list include using old books, leftover bricks or stacked drawers. If you really want to go next-level with your new creation, you can have a self-serve beer or wine system installed into your bookshelf.

After all, there’s nothing quite like a glass of red and a book on a cold winter night! There are truly endless possibilities for a DIY enthusiast looking to craft a new bookcase using upcycled materials.

Some of the more popular DIY creations these days are incorporating pallet shelves. Whatever style you end up choosing, your resulting project will likely be more durable and better-looking than anything at the store.

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  1. Kimberley A Harris


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