Take Your Home to the Next Level with a DIY Leaning Bookshelf

Take Your Home to the Next Level with a DIY Leaning Bookshelf

Leaning bookshelves are great for storing books and keepsakes, not to mention they double as beautiful decor too. And while well-made leaning bookshelves can be pricey, you can luckily get the same look at a fraction of the price with a DIY leaning bookshelf.

Not sure if you have the chops to complete the project? Have no fear! We’ll walk you through this simple woodworking project step by step. Check out everything you need to know about building your own leaning bookshelf for your home!

Before You Begin

This leaning bookshelf features five shelves of different depths to hold items like books, candles, pottery, and more. It has a 10-degree lean, which is enough of a slant to create a unique design while remaining structurally sound.

Before you start taking any wood to the saw, you’ll want to thoroughly read these instructions and make sure you have all the materials on hand. This DIY leaning bookshelf is quite sturdy and can be made into a very high-quality piece, but only if you follow all the steps and choose the right materials. To save money, you may want to consider borrowing some of the tools rather than buying them just for this one project. Don’t rush the process, and ask for help from a friend if you need it.

What You’ll Need

Here are the tools you’ll need to create this DIY leaning bookshelf:

-Tape measure
-Miter saw
-Speed square
-Pipe clamps
-Air compressor
-Air hose
-Brad nail gun
-Drill bits
-Veneer trimmer
-Veneer roller
-Wood glue
-Foam pads
-150-grit sandpaper

    Here is the wood you’ll need to create the bookshelf:

    -One half sheet of ¾-inch oak plywood
    -Three 8-foot oak 1x3s
    -Four 8-foot oak 1x4s
    -One package of ⅞-inch oak iron-on veneer
    -Two 2x4s (for steadying the rest of the wood on sawhorses)

    Building the Shelf

    Now it’s time to begin building! Here are the steps: 

    1. Cutting the Shelves

    1. Arrange two 2x4s across sawhorses. Place the half sheet of ¾-inch oak plywood on top and cut it cleanly to 30.5 inches wide, cutting the grain lengthwise. (Don’t forget safety glasses, earplugs, and a dust mask while cutting!)
    2. Cut all five shelves and cleats, accounting for the width of your saw blade:
    -Shelf A: 3-38 inch
    -Shelf B: 5-¾ inch
    -Shelf C: 8-3/16 inch
    -Shelf D: 10-⅝ inch
    -Shelf E: 30-½ inch
    -Cleat F: 1x4 14-½ inch
    -Cleat G: 1x4 x 11-¾ inch (Make 4 of these)
    -Cleat H: 1x4 x 10 inch
    -Upright: 1x4 x 84 inch (Make 2 of these)
    3. Cut the top of the four 1x4 uprights, which are the ends that will rest against the wall. Avoid splintering the wood by using a sharp blade on the circular saw.

    2. Sanding and Veneer

    1. Put away sawhorses and move to a workbench.
    2. Clamp the front of each plywood shelf to the bend. Sand each with 150-grit sanding paper.
    3. Line up the edge-banding veneer to the front end of the shelf.
    4. Heat the iron to the “cotton” setting and run it over the edge-banding veneer. Extend the veneer over the edges of the shelves.
    5. Let each shelf cool then continue trimming and sanding the edges.


      3. Creating the Angle

      1. Take the miter saw and use it to make 90-degree straight cuts on the five shelf backs and on the 10 shelf sides.
      2. Rotate the miter saw table to the 10-degree mark and cut all the angles for the back of the shelves. Cut the bottom of the uprights first so they rest flat against the floor and wall.
      3. Tip the top of the uprights to match the bottom. Then cut Cleat H to 10 degrees on both ends.
      4. Use an orbital sander with 150-grit sandpaper to smooth pieces.


      4. Assembly

      1. Lay out uprights and cleats on the workbench.
      2. Glue and nail the first cleat flush at the base of each upright, using 5 brads on each cleat.
      3. Work upward using 1x3 spacers, then set aside to dry.
      4. Glue and nail on the self backs. Then apply sides with glue and nails.
      5. Lay one upright on 2x4s, then clamp shelves to the board. Add glue and assemble the other upright flush with the front edge of the shelves.
      6. Add four brads to each shelf on the upright side. Turn the unit over and repeat to attach the other upright. 


      5. Finishing

      1. Lift the ladder and place it upright against the wall. Check it with a framing square to make sure everything is level. Square up any sides as necessary.
      2. Attach bar clamps to hold everything together while it dries.
      3. Once the shelf is dry, you can stain or paint as desired.


      More Ideas

      Looking for even more DIY project ideas? Check out Artisan Hardware today! Our vintage door bookshelf is another easy project you can complete that will add character and charm to your home.