Simple Bookshelves For Our Bibliophile

While I have minimalist leanings, somehow my kids ended up being collectors. One of my teen’s primary interests is Japanese Manga. His collection is growing, but his room is not. Recently, I found out that he has even created a spreadsheet to keep track of his books. It includes every copy he owns as well as series that he wants to collect in the future. Everything is color-coded, and the information can be printed in list form or graph form. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I think I am…impressed?

During the closet renovation project, he served as my extra pair of hands when I built the insert for my shoes and clothes hamper. The truth is, the kid owed me money, and I let him pay off his debt by working for me. After we finished, he asked if we could build bookshelves for his room, and I agreed. Making shelves was a perfect opportunity to create functional storage in is bedroom while gaining more experience with our new Kreg tools.


The first step was to draw a picture of what he was envisioning. Working together, we came up with this sketch:

His bedroom is small, but not quite as small as his brother’s room.  (Gosh, I hate linking to very old articles on this blog. Some are so poorly written, and the photos are terrible. I suppose I can be content in the knowledge that the blog has improved dramatically in the past four years.) The size of both of their rooms, in combination with the window and door locations, does not offer many configurations for modern bedroom furniture.

Based on the drawing, we started taking measurements of the space available for the shelves, taking into account all of the obstructions such as his bed (which partially covers the window), the baseboards, and all of the door and window trim.

Then, from those measurements, we created our supply list. After shopping in the basement first, we determined that we only needed to buy the following:

  • wood (3 – 1X12X12)
  • 5 mm shelf pins

Not bad.


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We started by cutting the wood for the basic box shape of each unit. We set the rest of the wood aside for shelves.

Using the Kreg Jig K4 Pocket Hole System, we drilled pocket holes on the top and bottom of both side pieces of the two units. Then we screwed everything together using the pocket holes.

Once we determined the outer boxes were correct, it was time to drill the pin holes with the Kreg Pin Hole Jig.

Each shelf unit needed four vertical rows of shelf pin holes–two rows in the front and two rows in the back. This required careful measuring front to back and side to side. The shelves are only level if the pin holes line up correctly.

After we drilled all of the pin holes, we pushed the shelf pins into place and cut the wood the proper lengths for each shelf. Then, we dropped each one into place.

Next summer, when we can work outdoors, we will stain or seal the units. We should have done this now, but the teen was anxious to organize and display his collection. Parenting is all about picking your battles.

The Completed Bookshelves

He’s happy to have a place for his current collection. I’m happy that there are no longer piles of Manga on the floor. This project was a win-win.

There is even shelf space to spare.

Project Notes

  • After I gain more woodworking experience, I will write a more detailed tutorial post about using the Kreg Tools. For now, I am still getting used to the process, and it would be irresponsible of me to portray myself as an expert. I will say that these tools are straightforward to use and learn. I just need to get a few more successful projects under my belt before I share what I know.
  • We used low-cost, basic wood for these shelves because although we wanted the units to be serviceable, the teen and I took this on as a learning opportunity. We did not want to risk ruining expensive wood due to our inexperience. That ended up being a good call. I cut the shelves in the tall unit too short the first time, and I had to go to the store and buy another piece of wood.
  • There is not a level floor or 90-degree corner in this entire house. It is a nightmare for building projects with right angles that are meant to be used right up against a wall.

Does anyone else out there collect Manga or love a Manga collector? Do you consider yourself a bibliophile? While I do have a soft spot for vintage children’s chapter books, I’m more of a library user myself.



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