Home Office Upgrades: This Is How To Build A Tree Bookcase

You may know how to style a bookcase or use one to divide a shared kids room. But do you know how to build a tree bookcase? It’s very simple. Even if you’re a beginner in woodworking DIY projects, you can build one.

A tree bookcase on a black background

If you consider a home office or living room makeover, a tree bookcase is a perfect solution. It can work as a room divider separating an open space into two with different functions or extra storage space. But how can you build one? There are many DIY ideas and bookshelf plans. We have a step-by-step tutorial to help you build your DIY tree bookshelf. Let’s find out how.

How to build a tree bookcase

There are many wall shelves and bookshelf ideas to decorate any room at your house. But, a tree bookshelf can act as wall art and set calm and natural ambience into the room. That’s why many interior designers choose one to decorate houses. 

Let’s see how to make a tree bookshelf:

Needed materials and tools:

  • 3 sheets of 1.9cm thick 1.2mx2.5m plywood
  • 1 box of 5cm screws
  • 1 bottle of wood glue
  • 1 can of paint primer
  • 1 can of brown paint
  • 1 pint of polyurethane
  • Table saw
  • Miter saw
  • Drill
  • Sander (belt or detail)
  • 8 clamps
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Disposable brushes
  • Pre-drill bit
  • Countersink bit

Steps to follow:

1. Cut and glue plywood

One of the sheets of plywood will be the background and backbone of the tree, so leave it as it is for now. You need to cut the other two sheets lengthwise (forming long strips) into 18cm wide and 2.5m long pieces. Therefore, you should have 12 strips of 18cmx2.5m pieces and 2 about 13cmx2.5m. Some home improvement stores cut down on strips of plywood. This will save you from the trouble and all the mess of cutting them yourself at home. We want about 18cm thick because most books are about 13 to 18 cm wide when stood on end.

measuring and cutting plywood

The tree branches are divided into three thicknesses:

  • 1.9cm – a strip of 18cmx2.5m wide.
  • 3.8cm – two strips of 18cmx2.5m wide.
  • 5.7cm– three strips of 18cmx2.5m wide.

You have to create three different branch thicknesses. Hence, you need to glue some sheets together. You will need:

  • 2 strips of 3.81cmx18cmx2.5m 
  • 3 strips of 5.7cm18cmx2.5m

To create the 2 strips of 3.81cm thickness, do as follows:

  1. Get two strips and apply wood glue on one side of one of the sheets.
  2. Press them together so that their front edges are flush and clamp them for at least 2 hours.
  3. Repeat the same process to create the second strip.

To form the main stem of the tree, you have to glue three sheets of plywood together. The process is the same as mentioned above. Just you have to apply glue to either side of one of the strips and clamp the other two strips on either side of it.

gluing sheets of plywood together

2. Measure and cut the tree branches

You need 37 angled branches, and the angles are measured looking down at the tree. Note which side of the branch the angle is measured from. The measurements are less or equal to 45 degrees. Below we have a table with the number of branches, their length in cm, and their angles, the closest and the farthest the trunk.

Branch NumberBranches length in cmThe closest to connecting branch angleThe farthest to connecting branch angle
13000
2253030
34000
4191530
53055
6163030
7482045
8253030
94300
1037450
1120450
1219.5450
132500
1416.51545
1521.51545
1620010
1714200
182300
19151030
20253010
21233010
22181030
23251515
2427150
2516.5045
26284545
27234545
28203045
2935.53015

cutting angled branches

3. Prepare the background

The next step is to prepare the background. Get the one whole sheet of plywood (1.2mx2.5m) and follow the below steps:

  1. First, sand lightly on the sheet.
  2. Once you finish, wipe it down to remove any dust.
  3. Apply a thick layer of paint primer to seal the wood and work as a base for the paint.
  4. Let the primer dry for about 30 to 90 minutes.
  5. Then, apply one or two coats of brown paint, depending on the shade you want it to have. 

preparing the background

4. Attach the branches to the background 

It’s time now to start forming your tree. You have to attach the branches to the background you have just painted. Start by laying the trunk first. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place a ruler on either side of the first trunk piece. Hold the rulers in place and remove the trunk piece.
  2. Drill at least 3 holes along the rulers using a pre-drill bit. 
  3. Wipe any dust and place the trunk piece exactly between the rulers.
  4. Next, drill into the branch from the backside of the background with the pre-drill bit.
  5. Using the countersink bit, make shallow wells where you have just pre-drilled.
  6. After that, screw into the branch from the backside again and through the holes you just pre-drilled. 
  7. Repeat the same process for each branch. You may also need to glue pieces to each other and then screw them.

forming the tree bookcase

5. Sand and stain the tree bookshelf

Now that you have assembled the whole tree and all the surfaces. You better use different grits. 

  1. Use 36 grit sandpaper to sand the front of the tree and 80 grit to smooth it. For a smooth finish, use 120 grit sandpaper.
  2. After sanding, wipe the entire surface, including the background, with a damp cloth and let your project air dry for about an hour.
  3. Now, it’s time to grab your disposable brushes and the polyurethane and coat the tree and the background.
  4. Allow it then to sit and cure for at least a day (24 hours).
  5. When it is dried, lightly sand the branches once more to smooth any raised rough burs on the branches. Use 120 or 150 grit sandpaper and sand only the branches, NOT the background.
  6. Wipe the tree again with the damp cloth, and that’s all! Your tree is ready.

finishing the tree bookcase

How do you stop a bookshelf from leaning?

One of the most common problems is a leaning bookshelf, which you shouldn’t overlook, as it might be very dangerous, especially if you have curious kids who like climbing on the furniture. A leaning bookshelf could either be because of overload or because of unsuitable materials. 

The good news is that you can fix this, no matter the reason:

  • Remove some books especially from the top shelves.
  • Measure the sides of the bookshelf. One side might be a bit longer than the other.
  • Place some shims underneath the bookcase and glue or nail them to avoid tip-overs.

How do you make bookshelves look expensive?

Over time, wooden furniture might lose its beauty and become a bit dull and look cheap. The same may happen to your tree bookcase. Well, luckily, you can bring it into life and make it look expensive.

Here are a couple of ways to make your tree bookshelf more elegant:

  1. Spray or paint the piece of the article again.
  2. Add some elegant materials on the shelves, like a gold vase, depending on the rest of the home decor.
  3. Hang some artwork on the wall around the tree to get a glamorous look.

a modern bedroom with a tree bookcase next to bed

A DIY tree bookshelf isn’t very difficult. Two pieces of plywood are enough to make one and upgrade your home ambience.  Cutting, glueing, assembling and painting are the four steps that take to make yours. Even if you don’t have a clue about woodworking projects, you have nothing to worry about as soon as you have our tutorial on hand. Follow our step-by-step instructions, and we promise an amazing home makeover.

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