DIY With Kids: Building a Bookshelf


This past week my husband and daughter built a bookshelf for her room together. Carpentry projects are great for kids for a lot of reasons. It gives them a good chance to practice practical math skills such as measurement. It’s helping them to build their hand eye coordination, how to plan a project and follow directions. It also gives them a sense of accomplishment to see something that they’ve built with their own hands come together to be something beautiful and useful.

A bookshelf is a pretty good project to involve the kids in because it’s fairly simple. Here’s how we built ours:

  1. Preliminary Measurements: We figured out how tall we needed our shelves to be by finding and measuring our tallest book. If it could fit, so could the others. We measured the width of the shelves by lining up all of our books and measuring the length and dividing that number by 3 (the number of shelves we would be having minus the bottom shelf that was part of the frame, but we decided to save that for the ability to increase our library collection.) A diagram was then drawn of the shelf including the length, width and height.

2. Trip to Hardware Store: Ted and The Kiddo spent a lot of time in Lowe’s finding the perfect lumber and other supplies for the project. Apparently they “auditioned” boards by checking out individual pieces and loudly proclaiming “NEXT!” when they found any indication that a board was less than perfect. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of this trip since it happened on a day my husband was home but I was at work. Also needed was sandpaper for finishing, woodscrews for the frame, tabs to hold the shelves in places, and finishing pieces to make it all look pretty.


3. Built the frame: The frame was measured based on the length, height, and number of shelves. It was put together with wood screws.


4. Added the shelves: The spots for the shelves had to be marked off and then holes were drilled where the tabs that supported the shelves would go.


Now we had a basic bookshelf: imageBut we weren’t finished here! We wanted it to be pretty too! So we started working on the trim.

These corner pieces were picked out by the kiddo and were easy to install with wood glue. They then used any and everything they could find to weigh the shelves down while the glue was drying.

I imageAfter adding these finishing pieces to the fronts and edges, the shelf was done! I think it’s lovely as is but The Kiddo is looking forward to painting it in the future. Here she is practicing on some spare pieces:


And here is the shelf upstairs in her room with a few of our books on them.


Thanks for reading! Hope this inspires you to create!


2 thoughts on “DIY With Kids: Building a Bookshelf

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