Project tutorial

DIY Ladder Shelf

Project cost
6 hours
Estimated time

Ladder shelves make great storage, making them as equally stylish as they are functional. These shelves are perfect for narrow spaces or just creating a more spacious room due to its vertical organization. The open platforms give the room a light and airy feel, and due to the angled design, you don't have to worry about baseboard molding or radiators getting in the way. To save hundreds on a retail piece, DIY your own leaning tiered bookshelf with the steps below.

Shown: Marinez Ladder Bookcase,

(This article originally appeared in This Old House magazine. Author // Cody Calamaio.)

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Step 1

Cut The Pieces

Download the cut list and follow it to make the assembly pieces. First, make all the straight cuts for the shelves. Then set the miter-saw blade to 10 degrees and cut the uprights and cleats at parallel angles.

Step 2

Build The Shelves

Run a bead of wood glue along the back edge of a shelf, butt the shelf into its backpiece, and tack it in place with 2-inch brad nails. Glue and tack the sidepieces onto the shelf in the same manner, making sure they’re flush at the back and bottom. Wipe away any excess glue.

Step 3

Attach The Cleats

Starting at the bottom of the uprights, glue the cleats in place, using scrap 1 x 3s to block out space for the shelves. Secure the cleats with 1¼-inch brad nails. To make the tops of the uprights sit flat against the wall, trim ¼ inch off their back edges, perpendicular to the 10-degree end cuts.

Step 4

Join The Shelves

Stand up the tiered shelves on their backs, arranged shortest to tallest, on a level work surface. Dry-fit the shelves into the notches on the uprights. Make sure that the trimmed wall-side edges of the uprights rest flat against the work surface. Now glue the shelves to the uprights and drive two 1¼-inch screws through each shelf’s sidepieces and into the uprights. Fill the fastener holes, then sand and paint. To finish, add non-skid foam pads to the feet and the wall-side edge of each upright.

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