I don't have a table saw or a router or anything like that. I do have a circular saw, and a drill. I could probably justify buying a tool like a Kreg Jig or something like that for this project.

  • could you maybe post a picture of what you are trying to build? Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 23:01
  • 1
    Pocket-holes FTW. Definitely pick one up! Lets you build face frames in minutes that are horridly strong.. Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 16:43

3 Answers 3


Congratulations on building your own book case. Here are a few tips.

Get a good large framing square. This tool will help you scribe square guide lines and also can be used as a guide for your circular saw to cut nice straight and square pieces of wood.

Use tiny head, counter sunk finish screws and wood glue to secure the pieces.

Make the bottom and top horizontal pieces full width. Fit the vertical upright pieces between them. Fit the shelves between the upright pieces.

Carefully measure and scribe the bottom edge location of your horizontal shelves on the vertical uprights.

Clamp a straight guide to these lines to help align the shelves to your lines before securing them to the sides.

Drill and countersink pilot holes for your screws so you won't split your wood.

Use glue on all joints.

Install a back or at least small 90 degree triangle pieces of wood or thin plywood on the back four or any parameter corners to assure your case doesn't rack or lean sideways when loaded.

Measure twice or three times, then cut once!!!

Fill your screw holes with lightweight spackle, sand smooth, prime, paint and enjoy.

Good luck

  • 1
    Sawing tip for newbies: measure the distance from the circular saw blade to the side edge of the saw's plate. Set a guide that distance back from your desired cut on the good side of the board (the part you'll keep), and clamp a straight edge down (another board or framing square). Then just run the saw along the straight edge.
    – BMitch
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 13:27
  • 1
    @B Mitch: You can make a jig for this out of 3/4" plywood. I use mine for just about every cut I make. Here's instructions on how to make one similar to mine: lumberjocks.com/projects/29056
    – Doresoom
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 14:15
  • @Doresoom, that jig is so obvious and useful that now I feel stoopid. Learn something every day! Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 19:45
  • @Alex: Don't feel bad, it wasn't my original idea either. :)
    – Doresoom
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 20:23
  • @Doresoom: one of the guys at the job site brings out a similar jig. He attached a small metal rail (I think with glue) to a thin piece of manufactured board (probably 1/4" thick). No need to measure when making it, just run the saw down the rail once to cut the jig and you'll have a perfect edge.
    – BMitch
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 21:22

This website has a ton of DIY furniture plans aimed at people who only have basic tools. Some of them require a compressor and a finish nailer, but you can probably work around that. (Although I've found that my compressor has been an extremely useful tool around the house. You may want to look into buying one if you're going to be doing more projects. A lot of times you can find them bundled with a brad nailer too.) My wife has a list of about a dozen projects from that site lined up for me to do.

Here's a good example of some bookshelf plans with a materials list and step-by-step instructions. I'm not sure if it's the exact style you're looking for though.

enter image description here


another sawing tip - if you can, score yourself a table saw or goto home depot or lowes - they'll cut large pieces for you down to size; set the fence once and make as many cuts as you can at once so their all the same. with cubes, as i'm sure you'll be stacking them / putting them next to each other, you'll want them to all be as close to the same as possible; constantly re-measuring and readjusting the fence will make inconsistent cuts. even if their off by a 1/8th or a 1/16th, you'll notice it when their stacked / side by side.

honestly, by the time your done buying the wood / making the cuts / painting or staining, you may as well go get it from Ikea - i know exactly what your talking about and they have a nice collection of stuff like that. I'm all for doing stuff myself, but i'd be to anal about them coming out right and lining up properly.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.