DIY Nursery Bookshelf


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January 5, 2024
Zoe Hunt

When my sister-in-law told us she was having a baby, we immediately started dreaming up all things nursery decor. One of my favorite nursery decor items are wall shelves for books, so that was our first DIY for the newest member of our family. 

DIY Nursery Shelves for children's books

Alright, let’s dive in and build some DIY bookshelves for a nursery! 

How to Build a Bookshelf

Recommended Tools:

Shopping List: 

The following shopping list makes both of the shelves that we have pictured. One is 25” wide and the other is 37” wide 


This project requires just a few cuts. Stack your 1⁄2” x 2, ½” x 6, and ½” x 3 boards on top of one another to ensure they are all the same length. If so, no need to make any cuts on those. If they are slightly off, trim the ones that are a bit longer until they match the smaller ones. 

Grab your ½” x 4 boards. Start by marking a curve. I placed a paint can on the edge to trace the curve, but this doesn’t have to be specific. You can use a different round object (or freehand) to create your curve. 

cutting rounded bookshelf side with jigsaw

Cut the curve with the jigsaw and then mark 5.5” from the top of the curve. Cut your piece here to create your side piece. Once the first one is cut, you can use it as a template to trace where to cut the remaining pieces. You’ll need 4 of these pieces to complete the two shelves. 

The last cut to make is for the dowels. The longer dowel will be 36.5” and the dowel for the smaller shelf will be 24.5”. Err on the side of making these dowels slightly smaller than then lengths rather than longer. Miter shears are super handy for this.

Since the dowels are so small they tend to want to snap under the force of the miter saw. If using the miter saw, be sure to take the extra steps to prep the saw for cutting small pieces!

Want to DIY buy don\'t know where to start? Click here to grab your free guide!


Mark ⅜” from the front of the side pieces and 2.5” from the bottom. We like to use our multi-mark tool for this.

marking wood with multi-mark tool

This is where you’ll place the center of your Forstner bit to drill for the dowel. Drill approximately ¼” into each of the side pieces. 

drilling hole with forstner bit


Sand all of your pieces with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper. We also decided to prime our wood and paint the dowel before assembling. 

Free download wood sizing cheatsheet


Secure the ½ x 2 board to the ½ x 3 board using glue and 1” nails. 

nailing 1/2 x 2 board to make lip for book ledge

Then secure the ½ x 6 board to the back side of the ½ x 3 using glue and 1” nails. 

nailing back of wall bookshelf to bottom

Attach the first side using glue and 1” nails.

nailing side to book ledge

Insert the dowel and then position the second side. Secure with glue and 1” nails. 

adding bar to prevent books from falling forward


If painting, fill all the nail holes with wood filler or spackle and then caulk where the boards meet on the inside of the shelf. 

side by side comparison of caulk vs no caulk

If you’re staining, fill the nail holes with wood filler, but skip the caulking. 

Paint or stain with your desired finish. 


To install your shelf, you can use heavy-duty command strips or secure the shelves to the wall by adding a few screws through the back of the shelves and into the studs. Yes, you’ll be able to see the screw heads if there are no books on the shelves, but your shelves will be flush with the wall. 

There you have it! Now you know how to make your very own wall shelves that are perfect for nursery books! 

white book ledges on walls of nursery
close up of DIY nursery shelf with children's books on it
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