Free DIY Furniture Plans to Build a Ballard Designs Inspired 72 Inch Sawhorse Bookshelf

07.15.11 By //
Project Image

We covered the shorter 43 1/2” sawhorse shelf, the corner unit and now this taller friend here! They all work fabulously together and I can’t wait to see how you all decide to finish your own! This is actually a really easy build if you have the right tools for the job. In fact it won’t take you long at all to whip this together! Not to mention you will save hundreds since the original will cost near $200 (or more) with shipping and tax, whereas this fine friend might be closer to $25 or $30!

  • Tape Measure
  • Square
  • Sander
  • Drill
  • Miter Saw – Can also use Miter Box, Jig Saw or Circular Saw, but you will need to make angled cuts for this project and will need to have a saw on hand.
  • Jig Saw – you might also use a sander to round the leg tops, but it might be faster to carve them.
  • Kreg Jig – there are connections that can't be made as easily without this tool.
  • 2 – 1×3 at 6'
  • 2 – 1×3 at 8'
  • 2 – 1×2 at 8’
  • 2 – 1×10 at 6’ this can be substituted for plywood or MDF if you prefer
  • 1 1/4″ Pocket Hole Screws (PHS).
  • 2″ Screws
  • Wood Glue
  • Wood Filler
  • Sandpaper
  • Finishing Supplies
Cut List 
  • 2- 1×3 at 72″ Back Legs
  • 2 – 1×3 at 74 1/2” Front Legs (your actual cut length will be closer to 73 1/2” once you miter, this will give you a bit of room for error, though not much so be careful)
  • 2 – 1×3 at 2″ Center Blocks
  • 10 – 1×2 at 18 1/2” Rails
  • 2 – 1×10 at 7 11/16″ 1st Shelf
  • 2 – 1×10 at 9 13/16″ 2nd Shelf
  • 2 – 1×10 at 11 15/16″ 3rd Shelf
  • 2 – 1×10 at 14 1/16″ 4th Shelf
  • 2 – 1×10 at 16 1/4″ 5th Shelf

Before beginning to build, always check in on my site to make sure you have the most up to date set of plans, I occasionally update and change the plans to make the building process easier or to allow for less expensive purchasing of materials! Read through the entire set of instructions and all comments before beginning this project. If you print out or save plans, be sure to check in on my site to be sure you have the most up to date set of plans, as I occasionally update things for ease of building or buying. If you are new to building, read through the GETTING STARTED section and other articles found under the BUILD tab in the menu on my site, it has valuable information about how to get started, tools and techniques. If you are unfamiliar with the finishing process, visit my Finishing school for some tips and tricks for painting like a pro and for special finishing practices. Use glue to secure your joints and Consider Painting or Staining individual sections prior to assembling. This makes the paint application virtually flawless. Coat with a spray on Poly or Wipe on Poly to protect your finish and your piece and it will last for ages. Adhere to all safety standards and guidelines, and be sure you follow safety protocol throughout your build. If you are unsure about whether you are building safely, run a quick online search for the tool or technique you are using, or contact me via email or post to the forum before you move ahead. My contact info can be found in the menu of my site.

Step 1
Step 1

Step 1 

Build the Leg Bases: The Back Leg will stand upright at 90 degrees from the ground. The Center block will need to be cut at a right angle on one side and an 80 degree angle on the other side, with a top measurement of 3/8” and a bottom measurement of 13/16”, so if you prefer to use something other than a miter saw to make this piece, you can always create a 90 degree angle on one side and measure out 3/8” from the top and 13/16” from the bottom of the L Shape and cut your piece in that manner. The Front Legs will be a final cut length of 73 1/2” with the ends mitered at 80 degrees (10 Degrees Off Center) on the Top and 100 Degrees (-10 Degrees Off Center) on the Bottom. Join the 2 legs and center block together using your pocket hole system set for 3/4” stock and your 1 1/4” pocket hole screws and glue.

Your Second Leg Base will be constructed precisely the same way.

Step 2

Step 2 

Once your pieces are attached, create an arc with a radius of 2 1/2” and carve along this arc on the outside of each leg base. You might also use a sander to create this shape it will just take you a bit longer. Below the image shows how the arcs for each leg base need to line up. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but you want it to look continuous.

Step 3

Step 3 

Fasten the Rails in place. Attach the rails to the Legs using your pocket hole system set for 3/4” stock and your 1 1/4” pocket hole screws and glue. Note that the dimensions between rails are from the top of one rail to the bottom of the next. I have shown them set in 1/4” from the front or back edges of the legs.

Step 4

Step 4 

Cut and Fasten the Shelves in place. I have chosen the width of this piece to allow you the option of using 1×10’s or plywood/MDF. For me, boards are always an easier choice so I have modified accordingly. Fasten in place using 2” Screws and glue.



Finishing Instructions 

Fill any Screw, Nail or Pocket Holes, Sand and Finish as Desired. For Finishing Tips and Tricks visit my Finishing School

**Disclaimer: Some rights reserved. Private use only. Feel Free to link to any of my plans so long as you ONLY use 1 image and provide an ADEQUATE link back to the original source and appropriate plan! Plans from this page are not to be used for commercial purposes or republished without the express written consent of Rayan Turner, The Design Confidential I hope to provide accurate plans, however, I cannot guarantee each plan for accuracy. Not every plan that I post has been built and tested, so you are building at your own risk. It is recommended that you have a clear understanding of how the project works before beginning any project. Please contact me if you find an error or inaccuracy so that I might fix it.

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