Sign In to join the community | Help
Build & Remodel

How to Build a Bookcase Using a Kreg Jig

Building a bookcase for a do-it-yourselfer can be daunting if you lack the know-how and materials.

However in this post, I can offer you fellow builders one of the easiest ways to construct your very own simple free-standing bookcase using a great tool system. What type of products you may ask?

It's the Kreg Pocket Hole Jig system! Shown below and linked in orange in the previous sentence, it makes assembling not just a bookcase easier, but anytime you are building anything with wood.

Jig Pocket Hole System

In this post, I'll go over not just step by step instructions on how to build your very own bookcase using the Kreg Jig system, I'll also offer some insight and tips I learned during this process.

Before we get started, I'd like to give a brief illustration shown below on this build. Be mindful that with any construction, you can always vary the size and shape to fit your needs. 

This particular build I did can be a little bulky to move once it's finished, but it is a great size for everyday storage needs. 


  • Kreg Jig Pocket Hole System (linked above)
  • Kreg Face Clamp (shown below)
3 in. Premium Face Clamp

  • 20 linear feet of 1" x 10" Whitewood (pine) common board. (2 extra feet for waste or damaged areas)
       1 in. x 12 in. x 4 ft. Pine Common Board

  • a box of Kreg screws at 1-1/2" length (click here for a chart of the correct screw size to use if using a different thickness than used here in this post)

III 8 oz. Ultimate Wood Glue

  • Level

  • 2 large clamps and 2 corner clamps
  • cordless drill
  • palm orbital sander
  • Danish Oil (or stain of your choice)
  • staining pad
  • felt pad bottoms

STEP 1: Gathering and Cutting Pieces

Your first stop would be going to your nearest Home Depot store and purchasing or renting the tools as well as the supplies.

If you have a table or circular saw or some means to cut it, it's best to let the store do any rough cuts, and then you can do any specific minute cuts at your own pace in your own space.

For this specific build of a bookcase, you'll need to cut out the following 7 pieces out of 1" x 10"  whitewood boards:

  • Five 22.5" in length boards for the shelves (2 for the top and bottom, 3 for the inner shelves)

  • Two 4' in length boards for the vertical (side) frame

At this stage, you'll need to lightly sand the edges after all cuts are made to ensure a tight and good-looking fit. The longer 4' boards will be placed on the outside of the 22.5" boards to give it a more solid outside frame.

With your glue and Kreg Jig system handy, you are now ready to move onto the next step.

STEP 2: Building the Frame

Place two 22.5" shelves as a top and bottom and two 48" and assemble using the Kreg Pocket Hole system.  Putting the frame together sideways on the floor helps with the build versus having standing up. The finished result of the frame should look like the image below.

To assemble this easier, using a level at each step of the way as well as corner clamps helps tremendously if working alone. Another big helper is using your corner clamps as well as larger clamps to hold everything in place before & after fastening and gluing the frame.

While Kreg screws do a great job of hiding fastened areas from the surface, you'll need to still use wood glue any time two pieces of wood meet. In fact, it was recommended for me to fill in the screw hole with glue first and then fasten.

Kreg screws work by pre-drilling a hole using the Kreg drill bit provided with the kit. This pilot hole allows the final screw to go in not only deep into the surface, but also at a tighter fit. 

This is why I chose this system by Kreg, as it allows for professional yet hidden screws that consistently work well.

Using your face clamp, carefully measure about 3 inches from the front (or back ) of the edge of where the wood will meet the other board. Do this using a tape measure. 2 screws on each side is sufficient for most load bearing shelves when also glued.

The biggest setback to this project I had was at this stage. Not so much for the Kreg screws, but for the glue I used. Once I upgraded to the Titebond III and made sure all shelves that were screwed were also glued firmly, only then could the frame be strong.

As mentioned earlier, using the drill bit to make a hole where the future screw will go is crucial to this build. The Kreg system does a perfect angle so any 2 pieces of wood can be fastened. 

For this bookcase, choose to use the Kreg screws on the bottom of the shelves and in hidden areas of the frame so as to give the outside surface a clean look. The image below shows this Kreg screw before it is being driven all the way into the frame.

For added stability, I opted to use 2 screws on each outward facing frame sides to give it more strength. While this is optional, it will be seen unlike the hidden shelf screws. 

Do a final check of the built frame by using a level, as shown below.

Failure to have a squared up frame can lead to uneven and failing shelves once they are installed. 

Once you have measured, cut, sanded/cleaned, and assembled your frame, you can now move onto the next step.

STEP 3: Installing the 3 Shelves

The image above shows the first inside shelf being installed while using corner clamps. At this stage, you should now have a knack of fastening and then gluing your wood pieces.  

I chose 3 shelves spaced at 1 foot apart starting from the top of the shelf, and allowing a larger 2 foot section on the bottom. Mark where the top of the shelves will go via a pencil and measuring tape on the inside of the frame. 

Once the shelves are installed in place, use the large clamps (shown below) to hold everything together, but make sure all shelves are level first.

Whenever glue and clamps are involved, you'll always encounter drips and oozing coming from the joints. Be sure to use a damp cloth at this stage and remove any excess glue you find near the glued areas.

STEP 4: Sanding 

Not only are corner clamps and levels important in this project, but so is a sometimes overlooked step: sanding. Once those clamps are removed after letting the glue dry overnight, you are now ready for this important step.

You should now have a project that's beginning to look a lot like a bookcase!

Using a hand-held orbital sander, sand down any excess glue or rough areas you may have missed the first time.

Use a light 180 or 220 grit sandpaper on the sander to smoothly but effectively remove anything that looks unsightly or is rough in appearance. 

Once everything is sanded down, use an extra clean staining pad to remove any remaining dust. 

Having a clean wood surface is crucial to your next step, which is staining.

STEP 5: Staining

For this build, I chose a favorite in the workshop, which is Danish Oil. Sold at your local Home Depot, it comes in 3 distinct colors. 

To get the right color for you, I suggest applying it on a test area first using a new staining pads. We have an old wooden box that was unfinished made from the same material as this bookshelf, so the experiment went quite nicely.

Since I was looking for a distressed and older look, I decided NOT to use a pre-stain conditioner for this build. However I highly recommend using it if you want a uniformed and consistent finish. 

Danish Oil dries fast and can be applied multiple times. Once it is dried you can opt for using a clear top coat for added protection. For this build, I decided not to go with that added step, since this shelf will not be in a high moisture or high usage area.

I prefer to stain once the shelves are built, but you can stain before they are assembled to get into corner areas better. In this instance, I simply used my staining pad & Danish Oil to get into those corner areas without issue. 

STEP 6: Drying and Final Protection 

Depending on what stain or oil you use will determine how fast (or slow) it will dry. In the case of Danish Oil, I used 3 coats and allowed it each coat to dry at least 2 hours before letting it finally dry overnight.

As stated before, you can choose to use a clear coat such as polyurethane or shellac to protect the finish. It's optional and recommended, but since this bookcase will be in a room that won't be used much, I decided against it.

For a final touch of protection, consider using felt pads shown in the materials list above to prevent scratching of your wood floors in case it is being used frequently. 

So there you have it, a way to build a bookcase using the Kreg Jig system. I can't tell you how simple and easy it was using these great tools to get a build done. For future projects, I'll be sure to keep them in mind for a long lasting build. 

Many thanks to Chris_HD_ATL on guidance and letting me not mess up his tools on this build :-] 

For any additional or specific questions you may have regarding using Kreg Jig systems or this project, please ask us here and we'll address them promptly.

Happy building,

Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question
Posted 2019-05-29T21:34:00+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL Joseph_HD_ATL
How would I know what type of 3 speed chain to buy to replace the one that broke?
Posted 2019-06-02T05:09:00+0000  by SisterVee

Hey SisterVee,

I'm not sure why you asked this question on a post about building a bookcase, but you didn't specify what type of 'chain' you are referring to.

I'm assuming you are asking about replacing a pull chain for a ceiling fan that has 3 speeds on it. We sell these at your local Home Depot store and an image of one is shown below as a reference.

3-Speed Antique Brass Pull Chain Fan Switch

While they aren't universal in type, this single capacitor type shown above is the most common. 

Let us know if this is what you were asking, and please be more specific in your questions going forward so we can assist you faster and easier.


Posted 2019-06-03T14:47:54+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question