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DIY Portable Bookshelf

Updated: Mar. 20, 2019

Make this DIY portable bookshelf in less than an hour!

portable bookshelfFamily Handyman
Learn how to build this DIY portable bookshelf that is perfect for a dorm room or den. It's easy to both set up and take down and travels light.

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Take this Bookshelf Anywhere!

Here’s a cool knockdown shelf idea for a dorm room or den. You just slide the shelves between the dowels, and they pinch the shelves to stiffen the bookshelf. It works great if you’re careful about two things:

One, make the space between the dowel holes exactly 1/16 in. wider than the thickness of the shelf board. And two, be sure the shelf thickness is the same from end to end and side to side.

portable bookshelf

After test-fitting a dowel in a trial hole (you want a tight fit), drill holes in a jig board so the space between the holes is your shelf thickness plus 1/16 in. Clamp the jig board on the ends of the legs and drill the holes. Cut the dowels 1-3/4 in. longer than the shelf width, then dry-assemble (no glue). Mark the angled ends of the legs parallel to the shelves and cut off the tips to make the legs sit flat. Disassemble and glue the dowels in the leg holes. When the glue dries, slide the shelves in and load them up.

Cutting list

  • Perfectly flat 1×12 lumber or plywood
  • 2 shelves: 11-1/4” wide x 3’ long
  • 4 risers: 2-1/4″ wide x 24″ long
  • 8 dowels: 3/4″ dia. x 13″ long

Check out more awesome DIY bookshelf ideas and plans here.

portable bookshelfFamily Handyman