How to Build an Offsetting DIY Bookshelf

DIY Offsetting Bookshelf

Typically I would use Kreg Jig Pocket Holes to attach the boards together. I would hide the pocket holes on the backside or under the boards. But for this DIY Offsetting Bookshelf project, it was not possible to hide the pocket hole, so I choose to use Dowelmax jig. Using Dowelmax the holes are not visible because they are inside the wood joint covered by the board. The wood joint is held together by dowels and wood glue. Once the glue dries it becomes a very strong wood joint.

I didn’t want to make a typical bookcase so I designed it by first creating a bunch of shelf boxes. Then I staggered the shelf boxes and connected them with short boards. Since I only had a few large pipe clamps, I assemble the boxes one at a time and clamped them to let the wood glue dry.  Then I come back and assemble the rest of the shelves. 

How to Build an Offsetting DIY Bookshelf with Dowelmax. This staggered bookcase is assembled with only wood glue and dowels.

You also might be interested in my other projects that I’ve built: DIY Floating Shelf and DIY Back of Door Pantry Shelf.

Offsetting Bookshelf PDF


This PDF download includes Cut Diagrams, a List of Supplies, and 3D illustrations with detailed steps to build the project. Measurements are in imperial and not metric. Does NOT include SketchUp/CAD files.

The plans are embedded on the webpage for free, but if you would like to support the website, you can pay a small fee to purchase the printable PDFs.

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Offsetting Bookshelf

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Tools for this project

Material List

Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size.  See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.


Offsetting DIY Bookshelf Dimensions

Step 1 – Cut Boards and Drill Holes for Dowels

For this entire project, we’re going to use just one lumber size. Take 1×12 boards and cut all pieces to the length shown on the cut list using a miter saw. Then arrange the boards on your workbench and mark where to drill the holes. Attach the Dowelmax jig to the board and drill the holes skipping every other steel guide. You will end up with 7 holes per side.

dowels for DIY Offsetting Bookshelf
DIY Offsetting Bookshelf dimensions
Drilling holes with a Dowelmax for DIY Offsetting Shelf
dowels inserted for DIY Offsetting bookshelf
attaching boards together with dowels for DIY Offsetting bookshelf

Step 2 – Assembling Shelf Boxes First

After drilling holes, assemble all rectangular boxes separately using dowels and wood glue. Make sure all boxes are squared. Clamp them together and let the glue dry.

DIY Offsetting Bookshelf bockes

Step 3 – Connecting All Boxes Together

Once the glue is dried on the shelf boxes, start from the bottom box and work your way up. Attach the side and middle board. You may want to glue one box at a time and let the glue dry after each staggered box section. Make sure all boxes are squared.

DIY Offsetting Bookshelf base

Step 4 – Staining and Painting

After all the boxes are attached and glue is dried, stain the boxes to your desired stain color. The boards that connect the boxes will be painted white. Tape around the boards to prevent accidentally painting the stained boxes. Once the paint dries, remove the tape. You’re done with the DIY Offsetting Bookshelf.

DIY Offsetting Bookshelf
DIY Offsetting Bookshelf

2 thoughts on “How to Build an Offsetting DIY Bookshelf”

  1. Hi…I do like the bookshelf, once upon a time I had a pair in a similar fashion. Great Eye, Thank you for sharing it.
    I look forward to making mine!

  2. I came back here after I used your design to build a kitchen stool for my kids.
    It was very detailed and easy to follow all the steps.


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