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Mid-century modern shelving unit

Making a Splash
Making a Splash

This custom mid-century-style shelving unit can be adapted to suit any space or display layout.





The project


I wanted these shelves to be narrower than a lot of store-bought shelving, yet wide enough to accommodate books. The layout of the shelving unit can be adapted to any space. I found it useful to measure up the shelving area (1450mm 1500mm for me, plus the area beneath), and then map out a grid of four units wide and five units high. Anything more than that and it'll get way too complicated to make. Once you have this grid, you can play around with various layouts for how to break up the shelving vertically and horizontally.




The first step of construction was to glue and clamp 110 x 19mm 1.8m DAR Tasmanian Oak planks to create 220mm-width planks. This took a while, especially the planing and sanding of various parts to ensure the joins were as seamless as possible. If I were to do this again, I'd just get planks that were the right width to start with.




The second step was to connect the sides and three full-width cross pieces to establish a strong frame. I checked that it would be a snug fit in the space I wanted the unit to occupy and made sure that the corners were square and everything was level.




I used a Kreg Pocket Hole Jig to attach the top, middle and bottom lengths to the sides so that there were no screw holes on the outside. The jig is easy to use and the results look great every time.


Once this initial frame was done, I added the internal vertical and horizontal pieces. I worked my way from the bottom up, cutting, glueing and screwing each piece. I attached the verticals first (the two you see below are 580mm each) and then the horizontals. Precision is so important at this point. I used a handsaw and did my best to keep the saw cuts at 90 degrees.




You can see some of the nice pocket holes in the image above. Wherever I needed more rigidity, I made four holes, otherwise it was two per join. At this point, all the construction was done. Everything looked good, and fit nice and snug. I filled and sanded the holes and any minor misalignments in the joins to get the unit ready for staining.




Depending on your taste and the style of your room, you could just lacquer this piece and be done. Tasmanian Oak has a beautiful rosy tint to it that goes with a lot of choices of decor. All the other furniture in our living room is a darker Teak colour so I used Cabot's Cedar Water Based Stain and Varnish to make it match.


The final step was to anchor the unit to the wall with an L-bracket. Anchoring the unit is crucial for safety and stability. After that, we were finally able to bring a whole lot of books out that we had stuffed away in boxes for ages and put them on display. An all-round satisfying result.


More furniture projects


For more creative ideas for your home, check out our Top 10 most popular indoor furniture projects and Top 10 most popular storage projects.


Kind of a Big Deal

Truly an impressive effort! 👍


  • Did you "biscuit" the planks together?
  • Your cat really helped? :smile:
  • Did your book sizes dictate the shelving sizes?

Would you release a rough price for the effort displayed?

I'm a book-lover. Thousands of them.



Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hi @Noyade


Let me tag @Benskimo to make them aware of your kind words and questions. I totally agree that it's a fantastic-looking shelving unit. You would definitely have to pay a great deal to get something like this from a store. My favorite part of this shelving unit is that all the screw fittings are very well hidden.




Making a Splash

Well done,  a great result. 

Making a Splash

Hi @Noyade - thanks very much, I really appreciate that. :smile: 


I thought about biscuiting the planks together, but after asking a mate of mine who's much better at carpentry and cabinetry than I am, I just went with wood glue. All of the pieces kinda interlock with plenty of screw support, so there wasn't really a need. The book sizes didn't really dictate shelf size (I've all different sizes, and some are too big to fit in this particular unit); I was going more for the aesthetic and style factor.


Price-wise... ergh I have no idea, honestly. Temple and Webster have some sorta similar lighter offerings, starting at around $300, but I found nothing like what I wanted. The cost of materials wasn't much; Tassie Oak isn't that expensive, I guess. :smile:

Kind of a Big Deal

Thank you for the feedback. :smile:

Finding My Feet

Great work a inspiration for me to give something like this a go thank you for sharing 🙂

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

I'm sure @Benskimo and our other knowledgeable members would be keen to assist you as you put this amazing project together @Jocando. Please shoutout if you need any help or would like to share your results with the community.




Making a Splash

Hi @Jocando - thanks very much. It was great fun putting this together. If you decide to make this yourself, it's a great step to sketch it out first using a grid (like in the picture above). Then, figure out the main measurements of the outside pieces (i.e. top, sides and bottom long first shelf), and put those pieces together first. That way, you can then measure up and cut each next piece as you go.


You can do it! :smile:

Having an Impact

Making this bookshelf is definitely on my bucket list!!!!

Becoming a Leader

That's a beautiful bookcase @Benskimo !  Another design winner!  It has also been added to the bucket-list.  Again, thanks for the great photos and your plan - they are such useful additions to your post, especially as I am more of a visual thinker and pretty slack when it comes to reading instructions! 🥺😱

(... and now I am fully in love with your cat! 🥰)

Cheers! 🤗

Becoming a Leader

Fantastic end result! Also, thanks for the step by step photo's, I love seeing these. Well done!

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