Free Woodworking Plans to Build a Traditional Base Unit Bookshelf

09.27.11 By //
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Another project I have been working on is a low set of shelves for my Office Craft Space! Ultimately all of the shelving will match in style, but for now, this shelf has a decidedly traditional sense about it! Personally, nothing gets me going more than traditional shelving can! yahoo… This build is really simple and can be modified to taste or tools available! Easy peasy…

Aside from the obvious storage of books… this friend serves as tv storage and reference library for TDC headquarters! That's right, design and drafting books galore, right next to some of the classics and a rare book collection or two… Everything in a small home has got to serve multiple purposes and this is no exception. I could have gone taller with this shelf. But after building this shelf here, for my craft and design supplies which is about 7' high, having another set of shelves that are equally tall in the same space is likely to make this teeny tiny room feel claustrophobic and not so comforting to work in. As soon as I fully decide on any additional shelves for my Craft Space shelving, I will be trimming out the unit in similar fashion to this low shelf here!

Estimated Cost 



Tape Measure Drill Sander Miter Saw – if you plan on adding molding or trim at the top. Kreg Jig – optional but will make your connections stronger and more professional Nail Gun – optional and can use hammer and nail set.


1 sheet of 3/4″ Ply 2 – 1×2 at 8' 1 – 1×2 at 6' 7' – 8' of small trim or molding in a style of your choice. The amount you need will depend on the size of the molding. For smaller trim, you will need closer to 7' and this will increase with an increase in the size of the trim itself.


1 1/4″ Wood Screws or Pocket Hole Screws 1 1/4″ Finish Nails Wood Filler Wood Glue Sanding Supplies Finishing Supplies

Cut List 

2 – 3/4″ Ply at 29 1/2″ Sides 1 – 3/4″ Ply at 48″ Top 2 – 3/4″ Ply at 46 1/2″ Shelves 3 – 1×2 at 45″ Shelf Trim 2 – 1×2 at 30 1/4″ Side Trim 2 – trim/molding at 17 1/4″ + up depending on the trim you choose. 1 – trim/molding at 49″ + up depending on the trim you choose.


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 

Attach the Top to the Sides: Use your Kreg Jig set for 3/4″ stock and your 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws and glue or your 1 1/4″ Wood Screws and glue. Be sure to countersink if you aren't using a Kreg Jig.

Step 2

Step 2 

Attach the Shelves: Secure using your Kreg Jig Set for 3/4″ stock and your 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws and glue or your 1 1/4″ wood screws and glue. Be sure to countersink if you aren't using a Kreg Jig.

Step 3

Step 3 

Attach the Trim: Fasten using 1 1/4″ finish nails and glue or secure trim pieces together using your kreg jig set for 3/4″ stock and your 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws and glue and then secure to the unit using 1 1/4″ finish nails and glue.

Step 4

Step 4 

Attach the Top Trim or Molding: Miter at the front corners and tack on using 1 1/4″ finish nails and glue. **This step will be a mark and measure step, meaning that the trim you choose will determine the side and front measurements since the larget the trim itself, the longer it will stick out in front and on the sides. This factor is important to note and cut to the proper dimensions by marking off and then cutting/mitering to size.

Finishing Instructions 

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

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**Disclaimer: Some rights reserved. Private use only. Feel Free to link to any of my plans so long as you provide an adequate link back to the appropriate post! 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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