How to Build a Bookshelf Chair

A bookshelf chair combines the storage of a bookshelf with the comfort of a chair to make an interesting and effective display piece for any bibliophile's home. Not only are these interesting pieces of furniture useful to store books that are currently being read but they reduce the amount of space needed to store books in a room, making them the perfect choice for a book lover who is short on space. Knowing how to build a bookshelf chair also lets you tailor the look and feel of the chair to suit your decor, helping the chair to blend in even further.

comfortable chair surrounded by books
credit: Martin Poole/Lifesize/Getty Images
A bookshelf chair is the perfect choice when space is a premium.

Building the Seat

Step 1

Measure the height from ground to seat of a chair that is comfortable to sit in for long periods. Measure the depth of the same chair. Record these measurements on a piece of paper. Subtract 6 3/4 inches from the depth measurement and record this as the "side panel width" of your bookcase chair. Measure and record the width of the seat of the chair.

Step 2

Cut four pieces of 2x4 to a length equal to the height you noted earlier, minus 2 inches, using a circular saw. Call these the "A" pieces. Cut another four pieces of 2x4 to a length equal to the side panel width you noted. Call these the "B" pieces. Cut a final four pieces of 2x4 to a length equal to the width you recorded for the chair. Call these the "C" pieces.

Step 3

Glue one A piece to the end of a C piece to form an L shape using wood glue. Form another L shape in the same manner. Glue the first L shape to the second L shape to form a rectangle where both A pieces are glued to C pieces. Repeat this process to form two squares. Reinforce the joints with two long screws per joint, using a hammer drill to countersink the screws.

Step 4

Glue and screw one end of the B pieces to the corners of one of the rectangles so the pieces stand perpendicular to the rectangle. Glue and screw the second rectangle to the other end of the B pieces to form a cuboid frame. Stand the frame up so the A pieces are vertical.

Step 5

Cut a sheet of 3/4-inch-thick MDF to a length equal to your depth of chair measurement and width equal to your width of chair measurement, using the jigsaw. Glue furniture foam to one side of the MDF sheet. Pull upholstery fabric tight over the foam and staple it in place on the underside of the MDF sheet, using the staple gun. Glue the MDF sheet to the frame.

Building the Side Shelves

Step 1

Measure and cut two pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hard wood to a length equal to the side panel width you recorded earlier. Measure and cut two more pieces to a length equal to the side panel width minus 1 1/2 inches. Measure and cut two pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hard wood 33 1/2 inches long. Measure and cut six pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hard wood 10 3/4 inches long. All piece widths are 7 inches.

Step 2

Glue one piece of 10 3/4-inch-long hard wood to one side of a 33 1/2-inch-long piece, at the bottom, so the thickness of the wood is doubled. Do the same at the other end. Glue a third piece in between the other two 10 3/4-inch pieces, leaving a 3/4-inch gap between the pieces. Repeat this process with the other 33 1/2-inch-long piece.

Step 3

Glue one of the side panel width long pieces to the bottom of the two 33 1/2-inch-long pieces. Reinforce the joints with two long screws per joint, all countersunk. Glue the other side panel width piece to the other end of the 33 1/2-inch-long pieces and reinforce the joints with countersunk long screws. You should now have a wooden frame.

Step 4

Slide the remaining two 3/4-inch-thick pieces into the 3/4-inch-tall slits in the sides of the frame, to form shelves. Cut a sheet of MDF 35 inches tall and of width equal to the side panel width. Nail this to one side of the frame to form the back of your side bookshelf. Repeat the entire process to form a second side bookshelf.

Building the Back Shelves

Step 1

Measure and cut two pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hard wood to a length equal to the chair width you recorded earlier plus 14 inches. Measure and cut two more pieces to this length minus 1 1/2 inches. Measure and cut two pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hard wood 56 1/2 inches long. Measure and cut 10 pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hard wood to 10 3/4 inches long. All piece widths are 7 inches.

Step 2

Glue one piece of 10 3/4-inch-long hard wood to one side of a 56 1/2-inch-long piece, at the bottom, so the wood is double thickness. Leave a gap of 3/4 inch. Glue a second piece of 10 3/4-inch-wood to the 56 1/2-inch-long piece. Repeat this process until there are five pieces glued on with 3/4-inch gaps between. Repeat this process for the other 56 1/2-inch piece.

Step 3

Glue one of the chair width plus 14 inches pieces to the bottom of the two 56 1/2-inch-long pieces. Reinforce the joints with two long screws per joint, all countersunk. Glue the other chair width plus 14 inches piece to the other end of the 56 1/2-inch-long pieces and reinforce the joints with countersunk long screws. You should now have a wooden frame.

Step 4

Slide the remaining four 3/4-inch-thick pieces into the 3/4-inch-tall slits in the sides of the frame, to form shelves. Cut a sheet of MDF 58 inches tall and of width equal to the chair width plus 14 inches. Nail this to one side of the frame to form the back panel of your back bookshelf.

Building the Front Shelves

Step 1

Measure and cut four pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hard wood into a square 7 inches long on each side. Measure and cut four more pieces to a length of 5 1/2 inches and width of 7 inches. Measure and cut four pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hard wood 33 1/2 inches long. Measure and cut six pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hard wood 10 3/4 inches long.

Step 2

Glue one piece of 10 3/4-inch-long hard wood to one side of a 33 1/2-inch-long piece, at the bottom, so the thickness of the wood is doubled. Do the same at the other end. Glue a third piece in between the other two 10 3/4-inch pieces, leaving a 3/4-inch gap between the pieces. Repeat this process with the other three 33 1/2-inch-long pieces.

Step 3

Glue a the 7-inch-square pieces to the bottom of two of the 33 1/2-inch-long pieces. Reinforce the joints with two long screws per joint, all countersunk. Glue another 7-inch-square piece to the other end of the 33 1/2-inch-long pieces and reinforce the joints with countersunk long screws. You should now have a wooden frame. Repeat this process to form a second frame.

Step 4

Slide the remaining four 3/4-inch-thick pieces into the 3/4-inch-tall slits in the sides of the frames to form shelves. Cut two sheets of MDF 35 inches tall and 7 inches wide. Nail one sheet to one side of one frame to form the back of a bookshelf. Nail the other sheet to one side of the other frame.

Step 5

Measure and cut two pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hard wood to a length equal to the chair width you recorded earlier. Measure and cut two more pieces to the chair width minus 1 1/2 inches. Measure and cut two pieces of 3/4-inch-thick hard wood to a length equal to the height of the chair minus 1 1/2 inches.

Step 6

Glue one of the chair width pieces to the bottom of the two chair height minus 1 1/2 inch pieces. Reinforce the joints with two long screws per joint, all countersunk. Glue the other chair width piece to the other end of the chair height pieces and reinforce the joints with countersunk long screws. You should now have a wooden frame.

Step 7

Cut a sheet of MDF of length equal to the chair height and width equal to the chair width. Nail this to one side of the frame to form the back of your the final bookshelf. Glue the sides of this bookshelf and stick one of the bookshelves you just made to either side of it, to form a "U" shape. Reinforce the joint with countersunk screws at the top and bottom of this bookshelf.

Assembling the Chair

Step 1

Glue and screw the front shelves to the front of the seat frame so the upholstered seat portion sits on top of the smaller bookshelf. Glue and screw one side bookshelf to either side of the seat frame so they are flush with the back of the front bookshelves. Glue and screw the rear bookshelf to the back of the seat frame so it is flush with the side bookshelves.

Step 2

Measure the distance from the upholstered seat cushion to the top of the rear bookshelf. Record this value on your piece of paper. Measure the width of the bookshelf chair from the front of one side bookcase to the front of the other. Record this value on your piece of paper. Measure and cut a piece of MDF with length and width equal to these values.

Step 3

Measure the distance from the upholstered seat cushion to the top of the side bookshelves. Measure the depth of the side bookshelves. Draw rectangles with these lengths and widths on the bottom left and right corners of your MDF sheet. Cut these rectangles out of your MDF sheet with a jigsaw to form a "T" shape.

Step 4

Glue furniture foam to the "T" shape MDF sheet. Cover the foam with fabric and fasten it to the back of the MDF sheet using the staple gun. Apply wood glue to the back of the MDF sheet. Stick the MDF sheet to the back of the back bookshelf to form the foam backing of your bookshelf chair.