Industrial Bookcase DIY

Last year I spotted an ultra cool bookcase in an ultra expensive store and knew I had to have it, despite the painful price tag! Well John had other ideas…he insisted he could build it for next to nothing, or at least something very similar.

I have to admit, I had some major doubts, but turns out he’s pretty darn handy!  He whipped up the most beautiful industrial bookcase in no time at all…bookcase (1 of 9)We’ve been needing a place to store some of the knick-knacks and instruments in our music room and  these shelves were the perfect solution.  bookcase (9 of 9).jpgAfter a quick trip to the hardware store, we were all set…and this time, I actually took some shopping pics!bookcaseshelves (1 of 1)

paint (1 of 1).jpg^^^(Who knew there were so many options for black spray paint!)^^^

Obviously, before shopping, you will need to figure out your measurements and how much wood you need (depending on how large you want to make your bookcase). We designed our bookcase  to fit the exact wall where it was going, but you can easily tweak our design to fit any space you need.  We debated between 4 and 5 shelves, but with our low ceilings, opted for just 4.  You could even put two smaller bookcases side by side if you have the room!

Industrial Bookcase SUPPLY LIST

  • Wood for frame “ladders”: We used the 2 x 2 x 8ft pine boards pictured above.
  • Wood for shelves: We used a nice Redwood (1 1/2″ thick x 9″ wide) and had Home Depot cut the four boards to the exact length we needed.
  • Wood for the back and sides of each shelf: Here we used 3 1/2″ wide x 3/4″ thick pine.  *NOTE: When staining the shelves we definitely noticed a difference between the base of the shelf and the sides/back due to the fact that we used two different types of wood.  After a few coats of stain and decorating the bookcase, it is hardly noticeable…but you may want to use the same type of wood for all the shelf pieces.
  • Black spray paint: Who knew there were so many options for black spray paint!?? We wanted the frame to look as much like metal as possibly and ended up going with a semi-flat black.  It turned out perfect!
  • Stain for shelves: We used a combination of two colors to get the look we wanted. Minwax Walnut and Classic Gray.
  • Other supplies: Nails, nail gun, wood glue, wood filler, torch (optional), and sand paper (or electric sander).

First up, the shelves.

This was such a simple design and exactly what I had in mind.  John cut the 3 1/2″ pine boards into 4 pieces, the exact length of our pre-cut Redwood shelves.  He then nailed them to the back of the shelf, with the bottom flush and the top protruding to create a backing ledge.

Next, you will need to measure the sides of the shelf (including the new back piece).  Cut a piece from the same 3 1/2″ wide pine for each side (we needed 8).  Nail the sides in place in the same fashion as the back piece, meaning the bottom is flush with the shelf base and the top protrudes up to create a box like shape.

And that was it!  We did not even fill the nail holes, but left it super raw and unfinished.  Next up, John took a torch to these bad boys…torch (1 of 1).jpgI’m not entirely sure how important this step is (as we ended up sanding off most of the charred marks), but John definitely had fun playing with fire and it did give the shelves a very rustic and worn look.torch2 (1 of 1)It also left them looking a bit zebra-like, so we took a sander to them and that seemed to do the trick!torch3 (1 of 1).jpgNext, I stained them with a rag and Minwax penetrating stain.  I wasn’t loving the  Walnut color so added one coat of Classic Gray.

*TIP: You definitely want to let your stain dry for a few hours before deciding whether to add more coats or a different shade as it drastically changes color when dry.

Now for the frames!

John basically built two ladders to support the shelves.  Each ladder has four “rungs” for the four shelves to rest on and is enclosed at the top by a fifth rung.

laddersstep1 (1 of 1).jpgUsing the 2 x 2 pine lengths, he cut the rungs each 10″ long. . tall. With our finished shelves measuring in at 9 3/4″ deep, that gave just enough space for them to slide in comfortably, but not too tight.   He also cut two pieces to support the rungs (for each ladder, 4 total)  about 6ft long. John first laid out, measured, and spaced the ladder pieces together on the ground and glued them all in place.  He next drilled a hole (while the glue was still wet) through the sides straight into each rung.  He then sunk in a long screw into each side of each rung.  After dry, we filled all the holes will wood filler, puttied any dents and dings, and gave them a really good sanding.  We wanted the frames to be as smooth as possible and gave them multiple coats (sometimes sanding between coats) of semi-flat spray paint.bookcaseladders (1 of 1).jpgTo assemble, we simple held the ladders apart from each other and slide the shelves in place.  It took us a bit of time to decide how far apart we wanted the ladders to be and finally decided to leave a bit of an overhang on each side.bookcase (1 of 9).jpgJohn then secured the shelves in place by screwing from the underneath side of each rung into the above shelf.screw (1 of 1).jpgAnd VOILA! Done!bookcase (8 of 9).jpgI had so much fun decorating this space and am SO happy with how these shelves turned out.  I’m sharing a little video on my Instagram feed showing how I decorated these bad boys or you can check out THIS POST for some basic bookcase design tips.  I definitely learned to have a bit more faith in my hubby’s woodworking skills and am actually feeling inspired to try some projects on my own!  As always, feel free to send any questions my way and best of luck in your DIY-ing endeavors!


Links for: Human Skull Model  Felt Letter Boards Black Tambourine

Below are the 8 x 10 rock star quotes we used on our shelves.  You are welcome to save the jpeg images and print from home (or order from a photo shop).  I simply printed them at home and stuck them in inexpensive white frames I had on hand.



10 thoughts on “Industrial Bookcase DIY

  1. About how much did the whole project take?? I’m seriously considering trying something similar as the piece I want is easily over $400

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