How to build easy barn wood book shelves!

Apr 11 2016
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I have not professed my struggle about my office to you guys out here on the blog yet. Well, its been a doozy! First, I had it all done, complete, looking good . . . and I hated it. When I moved in here last August my mom sent one of her big book cases along with me which I managed to somehow fit every last book I had in it . . . but NO room for more and that just wasn’t going to work! And that poor book case was so jammed packed that it just looked awful. (NO, I could not give up more books I had already forced myself to purge two full bins which I gave to the library!)

(8/1/2019 WOWSER its been three years since this post came out and I can’t believe how far I’ve come with this space! It never worked as my office not because it didn’t turn out lovely but because I really wanted my office closer to the heart of my home. So, this space became my brand new guest bedroom and library here)

And then there was the big closet in my office (which I had so many hopes and dreams for) which had become a total failure for me when it came to storage. On top of all of that I had my back to the door when I was working at my computer.

In the end, I needed to go back to drawing board and figure out the first most important thing my office had to do for me. And that was (as you might guess) some really great book shelves! Next week I’ll post my whole office reveal but, for right now, let us talk about barn wood book shelves! I had lots of dreams and ideas for builts-ins across this entire wall . . .

But I was always pulled by the fact that honestly I just didn’t want to make this room feel even smaller then it already was. I took the smaller of the two bedrooms for my office and, until I brought my furniture in, I had really thought that it was PLENTY big enough.

I had dreams about a full cabinet run all the way along the bottom of the window to each wall, built ins running all the way to the ceiling etc. It just wasn’t in the cards. The more I thought about it the more I wanted something as minimal as possible with as-invisible-as-possible hardware. So, I headed to the store for some L brackets.

Using a pencil, a measuring tape and a level I got to work drawing my lines along the wall where each shelf would hang and finding my studs. I knew I would always have a stud in the corners to hit but I also knew I had to find at least ONE more for these shelves to be able to hold any kind of real weight. With the lines drawn, I put up my brackets using three inch deck screws into the studs.

(I really didn’t want to be in bed some night to hear the crash of my barn wood book shelves falling to the floor.)

Easy inexpensive cheap DIY tutorial barn wood book shelvesEasy inexpensive cheap DIY tutorial barn wood book shelvesEasy inexpensive cheap DIY tutorial barn wood book shelvesEasy inexpensive cheap DIY tutorial barn wood book shelvesEasy inexpensive cheap DIY tutorial barn wood book shelves

From there I headed out to the barn to see what Grandpa saved for me that would work in this project. Suddenly my book shelves were now, most certainly: Barn wood book shelves! I grabbed the wood I needed and got them cut to length (using my miter saw in the basement) and then put them on towels in my kitchen because they were absolutely FILTHY.

Some vinegar and some elbow grease and I was so excited! Isn’t this old pine beautiful? Thank you Grandpa! I’m only sad that you end up not being able to see hardly any of it because they’re covered in books!

I pulled the boards out from the wall about two inches just so the last screw hole in the bracket would still sink into full wood but also so the shelves would still be as deep as possible. It dawned on me that books certainly did not need shelves that ran flush to the wall, a gap across the back wasn’t going to effect anything. These are true 2x6s meaning: they are actually 2 inches by 6 inches as opposed to the 2x6s of today which are 1 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches.

But, really, any wood you choose will work for this project, I just wanted thick enough boards so I would be able to screw up into the bottom of them without having to use bolts and nuts however, doing it that way on your own barn wood book shelves would be fine as well.

Easy inexpensive cheap DIY tutorial barn wood book shelvesEasy inexpensive cheap DIY tutorial barn wood book shelvesEasy inexpensive cheap DIY tutorial barn wood book shelvesEasy inexpensive cheap DIY tutorial barn wood book shelves Easy inexpensive cheap DIY tutorial barn wood book shelves

I am so excited to finally have some real storage now and I love how minimal the shelves really are! I ended up doing four shelves to the right of the window and only two to the left so I had a place for my rocking chair beneath them.

With the angle I was using on my camera you can see the hardware across the bottom but most people are taller then four feet and can’t see it unless they bend down and LOOK for it. All in the project cost me about $20 in hardware and $5 in screws and it only took me about an hour to complete! Sometimes I am just amazed at how little time it takes sometimes to vastly improve a space! (and my life!)

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  1. Alice
    April 11, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    Works for me. Hope tp be able to make some of these…just have to figure out WHERE!

    • April 12, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      Hey there! What I really like about them is that they can be just about as “shallow” as you like so they don’t seem to impede on the room very much, I think they might be great even in a bedroom. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Nancy F Lambert
    April 18, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    The shelves are amazing, Thank you for sharing and giving me ideas.

    • April 18, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      Thank you! I’m SO happy to finally have a place for all of my books! Honestly, home is where my books are 🙂

  3. July 24, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Wow, Tarah! These turned out fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing @Vintage Charm!

  4. September 21, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    What a great idea. I have got books stuffed everywhere and would love to create something like this to display my ever growing book collection.

    • September 21, 2016 at 3:20 pm

      Thank you Anna, they were really easy to put up! The only thing I wish I had done differently was put up the shelves closer together, so I could have squeezed one more shelf on each wall!

  5. September 26, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    I love old barn wood – you did a great job! Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY party!

  6. September 28, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    I need to show this to my 7 year old granddaughter. Last week she was showing me how to set the ringtone on my new phone and said, “next week I will show you how to repurpose and old bookcase into a ladder for my loft bed!” She makes me feel old. LOL

    • September 29, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      Marilyn, that’s great! I have a cousin that I have to message from time to time for help with my smart phone lol I get so annoyed trying to work on a phone, I much prefer being at a computer!

  7. October 6, 2016 at 3:39 am

    Great work. Ilove the shelves. Now I need to make some!! 🙂 Best wishes, Linda #Crafts a la mode
    Pinned also.

    • October 6, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Linda, I was so stoked that these turned out as well as they did and you can’t even see the hardware! Thanks for coming by!

  8. October 8, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Turned out great! Thanks for sharing at Funtastic Friday.

  9. October 10, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    What a beautiful project- so you didn’t use any stain? My husband is going to be making some picture ledges for me and I’m having the absolute worst time finding a stain I like.

    • October 10, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Hi Jessy, nope these just came right out of the barn like that 🙂 I cleaned them with vinegar and then screwed them to the wall. I love the patina of older wood but if it doesn’t have a lot of character I usually reach for minwax’s dark walnut, it is the dark brown of my floors so it’s always my go-to!

  10. October 10, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    This shelving unit looks gorgeous and so natural!
    Such a beautiful project 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    Visiting from Monday Link up


  11. October 11, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    Oh Tarahlynn, I love your projects. You keep on giving…LOL. Love your thinking process and how you implement it all. Thanks for sharing at DI&DI.

    • October 12, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      Thank you so much Linda 🙂

  12. October 14, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    I love how these turned out! We just finished large built-in bookshelves with a window seat for all of my books (love having a place for them now!), but I will be keeping these shelves in mind for future projects. I always have more books and things to display 🙂 (Visiting from Thrifty Thursday)

    • October 17, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      Eileen, I was thinking of doing built ins with a window seat too! I bet yours are lovely! Thank you for coming by!

  13. October 18, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Love this project–the shelves look so beautiful! Thanks for sharing. #happynowlinkup

  14. October 21, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    That wood really is gorgeous! What a wonderful gift that you have all these materials left from your grandparents. Thanks again for joining us at the #happynowlinkup!

  15. October 25, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    This looks so great!! Love them!

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks:

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

    • October 26, 2016 at 2:57 pm

      Thank you so much, I was so glad to finally have a spot for all of my books!

  16. October 27, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    You guys like books like we do! Love the shelves! Thanks for sharing at the #InspirationSpotlight party. Shared

    • October 28, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      Yup I had more bins of books then anything else when we moved in lol!

  17. November 2, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Tarah, I love barn wood. Those shelves look awesome and one can never have too many books lol

    I’m going to be using the vinegar stain technique on my aged deck boards on my porch. I’ve read a lot about it and I love the look of the stain. Mary @ Boondocks Blog got me started on that one lol xo

    • November 2, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      Hey Carla, oh what a lovely idea to try that on your deck boards! I’ve always been really happy with it and it cleans the wood really well too!

  18. November 3, 2016 at 12:36 am

    I love your floating shelves. They turned out great. Thank you for sharing at the Snickerdoodle Create Bake Make link party!

  19. November 4, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    That is so simple and cute!

  20. November 5, 2016 at 12:52 am

    I really like barn wood, and love what how you made the shelves. Thanks for sharing at Together on Tuesdays 🙂

  21. November 16, 2016 at 2:07 am

    Wow, they look really good. Great job!!! Repurposing the old barn wood, what a savings, too!

  22. December 5, 2016 at 8:00 am

    I so love the wood grains, what a lovely bookshelf. Just perfect for your office.

    Bloggers Pit Stop

  23. December 5, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Your shelves are gorgeous! I love the barn wood. Such a beautiful addition to your room. Thanks for sharing at the Wednesday Showcase. Pinned!

  24. May 7, 2017 at 3:43 am

    The wood in these shelves is really beautiful. By making the bracketing minimal the wood stands out and when its that nice it should be a show piece.

    I am curious to see how your office comes together. Enjoy your weekend.

  25. May 9, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    I love the grain of the wood in those shelves Tarah 🙂

    • May 10, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      Thank you so much Amber, me too!

  26. July 16, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    I love your barnwood shelves and the underwater dogs book! My water crazy dog is snoring at my feet at the moment! 😉

  27. August 1, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    I love the shelves. Thanks for sharing with us at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I’ve shared on social media.

  28. August 2, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Love how the shelves look! I’m into mid century/retro these days and these shelves fit that look. Visiting from Coffee and Conversation party.

  29. August 2, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    The floating bookshelves look terrific, and they don’t take up too much space in the room. I love how you continually honor those who came before you (your grandfather in this post) as you re-purpose the objects that they left behind. I’m sure you would not find such beautiful pine boards today if you went to a home supply store for new lumber. Using the authentic, solid wood from a bygone era is such a wonderful way to practice gratitude.
    Carol (“Mimi”) from Home with Mimi

    • August 3, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Thank you so much Carol! I totally agree, finding rough cut boards today is almost impossible unless you know of a saw mill somewhere, certainly not a lumber yard or a place like Home Depot! I am so fortunate to have all these boards my grandpa saved over so many years 🙂 Thanks for coming by, reading and commenting, have a great week.

  30. August 2, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    I did something similar in my laundry room with wood my grandfather gave me from an old barn. I smile everytime I see them! Thanks, for sharing!

    • August 3, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      That’s wonderful Anne! Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  31. August 3, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Cute shelves! I’m thankful for this tutorial because I want to do something like this in the nursery I’m designing for my daughter right now.

    • August 3, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      Hi Quin, this was so simple too and anything that you put on the shelves totally covers the brackets!

  32. August 8, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    These look GREAT! Really changes that corner. Would LOVE if you’d share at Reader Tip Tuesday:

    I hope to see you & these shelves at the party :). Have a great day…

    • August 8, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Thanks Jodie, I’ll be there!

  33. August 15, 2017 at 11:52 am

    These turned out AMAZING! Congrats – you were featured at this week’s Reader Tip Tuesday:

    Grab a button & join the new creative fun at this week’s party.
    Have a GREAT day xo

  34. Ann @ Live The Old Way
    September 13, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Love the way the way the vinegar brought out the wood! We have some cedar that has turned grey from the sun, I might give that a try and see if it will bring it back to life! Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop!

    • September 13, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      Hi Ann, a little sanding and a vinegar bath would definitely do it! Thanks for coming by!

  35. September 19, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    This wonderful post is a HOME feature on the September You’re the STAR blog hop:
    PS – You’ve been doubly featured – this post was also featured:

    • September 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      Oh wow, thank you so much Angie!

  36. January 16, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your post with us on Whisk It Wednesday this week. Hope you have a great week and come back soon! Carrie

    • January 17, 2018 at 4:09 pm

      Thanks Carrie for coming by!

  37. January 18, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    Love this. What a great tutorial! I just pinned, tweeted and shared the post.
    Thanks for coming and linking at the Fabulous Party. I’ll link your other posts too.i’ll follow you on Facebook. So watch for my friend request. Have a Happy Day. Sherry at Our Holiday Journey

    • January 18, 2018 at 8:57 pm

      Thank you so much Sherry, have a great weekend!!

  38. Mia
    December 3, 2020 at 6:10 am

    Love them! Thanks for sharing!

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