Build A Doorway Bookcase

  • Doorway Bookcase

 In this home, one living room wall had a sliding door flanked by narrow columns of unused space. 

Bookcases were built to surround the doorframe and fill the two awkward spaces, then painted to match the sliding doors. 

The measurements are easily adapted to suit the dimensions of any space around a door, as the design consists of two bookcases positioned either side and a third set of shelves mounted overhead.

Build the shelves

The bookcase is built from MDF and trimmed with ribbed edging, from Porta Mouldings. 

Cut the parts with a circular saw and straightedge guide or have them cut by the supplier, as full 2400 x 1200mm sheets of MDF are heavy and won’t fit in the average car. 

The sides of the bookcase boxes are two layers of 18mm thick MDF, with the inner sides stopping 340mm short of the top to support the overhead unit. The fixed and adjustable shelves are 25mm thick.

To install, build two plinths for the bookcase boxes and position the overhead unit between them. 

For extra stability, secure the bookcase to the wall studs at the sides and above the doorway.

Mark the stud positions on the walls then transfer the locations to the bookcase boxes before installing them on the plinths.

TIP To give it a built-in look, the plinths are clad with skirting.   


To assemble the bookcase boxes and attach them to wall studs, use 50mm x 8g particleboard screws. 

Attach the decorative skirting from inside the plinths using 25mm x 8g screws. 

Use the same screws to add the cover panels and backs to all parts of the bookcase and to secure the overhead unit to the side boxes. 

TIP Drill and countersink 2mm pilot holes for all screws.

Build the bookcase 

Step 1. Mark shelf positions

Position two box sides face to face, checking all edges are flush. Mark the shelf hole heights across both front edges, then square these lines across the inside faces. Set the blade of a combination square at 50mm then use it to mark the shelf pin centres.

Step 2. Drill shelf holes

Use a 5mm brad point bit to drill 10mm deep shelf pin holes at the intersections of the marked lines, using masking tape on the bit or a depth collar to ensure accuracy. TIP Drill 2mm pilot holes for the fixed shelves right through the sides.

Step 3. Build bookcase boxes

Soften the front edges of the shelves using a router with a 6mm roundover bit. Position the top, base and fixed shelf between the sides, drilling pilot holes to secure with screws. Build the overhead unit then attach the backs with screws.

Step 4. Level base plinths

Position the sides of each plinth between the front and back, securing with screws. Position on the floor and adjust the height with shims until the tops are level. Run a marker pen along the floor to mark a trim line on each plinth then plane down to the line.

Step 5. Secure skirting

Cut the skirting to length and use a mitresaw to cut the corner joints. Using the plinths as templates, mark trim lines and plane the skirting to match. Secure the skirting with screws and construction adhesive. Add the covers and support sides to the boxes

Step 6. Install bookcase

Position the bookcases on the plinths then clamp the overhead unit, securing with screws. Secure to the wall studs with screws then use PVA adhesive to attach the decorative trim, using masking tape to hold it in position until the adhesive dries.

Click on the diagram

Click on the diagram to see the measurements used in the side layout of this doorway bookcase. Measurements are in mm.

Click on the diagram

Click on the diagram to see each component of this doorway bookcase.

Click on the cutting list

Click on the cutting list to see what materials are needed for this project, and in what sizes.

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