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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.