How to Build Bookshelves for a Recessed Nook

Carter Oosterhouse turns an empty niche above a closet into practical storage.


The once-useless space above the closet is turned into a library complete with a rolling ladder.

The once-useless space above the closet is turned into a library complete with a rolling ladder.

Materials and Tools:

two 3/4" birch 3'7" x 1'-3-3/4" for the top and bottom
one 3/4" birch 3'-5-1/2" x 1'-3-3/4" for the shelf
one 3/4" birch 3'7" x 1'-8-1/4" for the back
3/4" trim
two 1'-6-3/4" x 1'-3-3/4" for the side pieces
1-3/4" brad nails
safety goggles
measuring tape
table saw
wood glue
miter saw


1. Start by cutting down your shelf pieces.

2. Apply glue to the bottom edges of the side pieces. Stand the pieces up on top of the bottom piece and secure with 1-3/4" brad nails.

3. Measure nine inches from the bottom and place your middle shelf piece. Again, glue the edges and attach with brad nails from the outer side pieces.

4. Attach the final top piece with glue and brad nails.



5. Turn the shelf over so the backside is facing up. Put the backing on and place brad nails around the frame. Using a T-square, draw a line down the back where the middle shelf sits and place three brad nails across the line.

6. Cut your trim pieces to the length of each side. For the top, bottom and side trim, miter the ends to 45 degrees. This will allow a clean look for your facing. For the center trim, cut both ends straight. Attach all the trim with brad nails.

7. Once the trim is on, sand the piece to make it smooth then paint or stain as desired (we used a black water-based stain).

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