I am going to build a set of shelves for my wall to hold my bead jars. The shelves are narrow 4" nominal and very close together 3" is the farthest apart they will be. I'm using quality pine 1"x4"x3'. I'm extremely new at this, but am assuming I should use screws instead of nails. Any help would be fabulous.
Depending how you make your joints, if you choose to use screws, they need to go into the joining piece at least 3/4"-1" deep, and deeper when going into the end of a piece, 1 1/2" is a good depth, For this you can use a 2" screw, countersunk a little. The drawing below, may have a little more info than what you are looking for, but it will give you options if you choose.
I would suggest putting a 1/4" thick plywood back, thinner will work too if available. I have cut this with a razor knife if you do not have a table saw. The back can be nailed on with 1' brads after the shelves are assembled
If you are not concerned about the looks and it will be a utility type shelf these are the screws I would use. Still nail the back on with 1" brads
Any of these countersinks will do what you need, make sure you keep your drill perpendicular to the wood and in the center of the shelf for the thickness, about 3/4" from the edge from the front and back.
As a newbie, I'd do it like this: Get 4 pine boards and screw them together into a nice shelf sized rectangle. Nail a piece of 1/8" fibreboard or plywood to the back to stabilize the shape. Get more boards for the individual shelves. (these'll have to be cut about 1/2" shorter than the inside of the case's rectangle to accomodate hardware described below) Get some bookcase shelf supports and strips: Like this: You'll need a total of 4 strips, and 4 supports for every shelf you want. Look around for these, prices vary greatly, but they shouldn't be all that expensive. Screw the support strips into the inside of your wooden fram, and put in the shelf supports where you want them. You're done. This design has the advantage that when you suddenly find yourself with some 5 inch bead jars, you'll be able to adjust the shelving without starting an entire new woodworking project.
I use 2" drywall screws for all my rough carpentry projects. They offer plenty of support, without having to do any routing. 5/8" woodscrews will serve to attach the strips to the sides of the shelves. Oh yes, always drill pilot holes when screwing deeply into pine. The wood loves to split.
Wood screws are probably your best bet. They don't need to be huge, but at least 1-1/4" or so. I'd also highly recommend predrilling holes with a wood drill bit prior to setting the screws or you could crack the wood. Nails would probably work too.