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DIY Kids Bookshelf for the Wall

When designing our little one’s nursery room, I knew I wanted to create a DIY kids bookshelf for the wall as part of a reading nook. I ended up making a set of three DIY floating bookshelves! They are one of my favorite projects in the space!

DIY kids bookshelf on wall

I made all three of the bookshelves for $60, which I think is a great price for solid wood bookshelves! They can be painted or stained too which is great. The tutorial is below!

Note, this post contains some affiliate links. For more info see my disclosures here.

How to Make a DIY Kids Bookshelf:

***The materials listed below are enough to make 3 bookshelves at 33 1/4″ long each. If you’d like to just make one bookshelf or different size shelves, adjust material as needed!***



1. Make initial lumber cuts

As I mentioned above, I bought enough lumber to make 3 bookshelves, but I am going to explain how to just make one bookshelf at 33 1/4″ long so just repeat the same steps to make two more shelves if desired!

Use a miter saw (or circular saw) and make the following cut from the 1×10 for the back of the shelf:

  • 1 piece @ 31 3/4″

Make the following cut from the 1×3 board for the base of the shelf:

  • 1 piece @ 31 3/4″

Make the following cut from the 2 1/4″ lattice board for the front of the shelf:

  • 1 piece @ 31 3/4″

lumber cut to size for DIY kids bookshelf

2. Make cuts for sides of DIY kids bookshelf

Make the following cuts from the 1×4 for the sides of the bookshelf:

  • 2 pieces @ 9 1/4″

On each of the two side pieces mark 3/4″ up from the end of the board. Then, set your miter saw to 35 degrees. Cut the board at an angle from your mark as shown in the below photos.

cutting lumber to size for DIY floating bookshelves using a miter saw

lumber cut to size and at angle for sides of DIY bookshelf

3. Assemble DIY bookshelf

Using a brad nailer, 1 1/4″ brad nails, and wood glue, attach the 1×3 board to the 1×10 backing board as shown below.

attach base board of DIY bookshelf wall wall backing board with brad nailer and wood glue and clamp

Then, attach the lattice board for the front of the DIY kids bookshelf to the 1×3 furring board with wood glue and a few 1″ brad nails.

attach front board of DIY kids bookshelf with brad nailer and wood glue

4. Finish making bookshelf sides

Now it’s time to add the holes for the dowel rod that will go along the front of the bookshelf.

Measure and mark 3 1/4″ up from the bottom of each side board and 1/4″ in from the side of each side board. Then, use the end of the dowel rod to draw a circle at this point to mark exactly where you need to drill the dowel rod hole.

Mark on bookshelf side boards where dowel rod hole needs to be drilled

Use a 3/8″ drill bit and drill a hole at these marked spots that’s about 1/2″ deep. Don’t drill all the way through!

DIY bookshelf wall side pieces with hole drilled for dowel rod and ready for assembly

5. Cut dowel rod to size

Make the following cut from the dowel rod:

  • 1 piece @ 32 1/4″

At this point, I went ahead and tested the fit of everything by inserting my cut dowel rod into the side piece holes and then lining up my side board pieces with my bookshelf. You may need to gently twist the dowel rod into the drilled holes if it’s a really tight fit. You can always drill the hole a little wider, but ultimately you want a firm fit of the dowel rod in the hole so it doesn’t move around.

I didn’t attach everything together yet because I wanted to paint and spray paint first since it would be much easier to do before attaching the sides and dowel rod to the DIY kids bookshelf.

DIY kids bookshelf unfinished before painting or staining

6. Paint (or stain) and spray paint DIY floating bookshelves

Go ahead and paint or stain your DIY floating bookshelves and spray paint the dowel rod if desired. It’s much easier to do this step with the dowel rod unattached as well as the side board pieces. If you are painting the wood, make sure to prime it first, especially those knot holes!!

I spray painted my dowel rods with oil rubbed bronze spray paint to give the illusion of a metal rod. For my three bookshelves, I bought paint samples (so I didn’t have to buy whole quarts) and used the following paint colors, all by Sherwin Williams:

  • Dorian Gray
  • Storm Cloud
  • Anchors Aweigh

7. Finish assembling the DIY kids bookshelf

Insert the dowel rod, with some wood glue on the ends, into the side board pieces.

If your holes got a little smaller due to paint seeping in them, gently widen them some with the drill. I found it easiest to just add one side board piece to the dowel rod and attach to the bookshelf, then to do the second piece after that.

adding dowel rod to bookshelf side pieces

Use a brad nailer and 1 1/4″ brad nails and wood glue to attach the side pieces in place with the dowel rod and finish building the bookshelf!

using a brad nailer to finish building DIY floating bookshelves

Fill all nail holes with wood filler or light spackle and do any necessary paint/stain touch ups.

And that’s it for building the bookshelves! For attaching to the wall, we drilled 1/2″ deep holes into the back of the shelves that lined up with screws with anchors on the wall. The holes on the shelving backs were just a little bit bigger than the screws.

DIY kids bookshelves on wall

To see the shelves in our reading nook, be sure to check out the full nursery reveal!

DIY floating bookshelves in kids room

What do you think of this DIY kids bookshelf design? I love it, I think it’s classic yet a bit modern with the “metal” rod in the front! I’d love to see your version of this build, be sure to share with me on social media @angelamariemade!

Follow along on my latest projects and sneak peaks on Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook!

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DIY kids bookshelves pin


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