Introduction: How to Make a 13ft Tall Bookcase

In this build i create a 13ft tall bookshelf with a rolling ladder. I use mostly maple cabinet grade plywood and rough sawn soft maple for the face frame.

If you would like to attempt this project on your own, here are a few tools I recommend!

Thanks for checking out this build!

Step 1: Breakdown Material

Picture of Breakdown Material

Begin by breaking down your plywood into the dimensions of your vertical boards. I cut mine into 11.25" strips from the large sheet, then down to final 11".

Step 2: Glue Up Parts

Picture of Glue Up Parts

Rough cut down all your shelving to size. Stack them neatly so you can stare at how much work you put into the neatness of the pile, then destroy it by gluing everything up. I use 1.25" 23g pin nails and tons of glue.

Step 3: Layout and Cut Joinery. Assemble Carcass

Picture of Layout and Cut Joinery. Assemble Carcass

Mark out all the locations for the shelves on your vertical partitions. Be sure to reference the correct faces so everything lines up. Use a jig, and drill perpendicular holes half way through the partitions. Cut the coordinating holes in all of the shelves.

Step 4: Mill Stock for Face Frames

Picture of Mill Stock for Face Frames

Rough cut your face frame material (rough sawn soft maple) and cut it into 1.5" strips. Start by jointing one face and a perpendicular side. Then cut your strips from the flat part as reference. This will leave the "rustic" top

Step 5: Final Assembly and Finish

Picture of Final Assembly and Finish

Glue the face frame onto the carcasses. Sand appropriately and finish with paint and a coat of water based poly. Then Install.


Jane Ward (author)2017-08-07

Fantastic, cannot wait for pay day. Thank you for this

DrKZ (author)2017-07-27

Just wondering what the width of each shelving unit is, i.e. how many shelf-feet of books does this baby accommodate? You see, we DO have 13+-foot walls and need bookshelves. Also would like to know more about the ladder. Specifics, please, so we can make this, thanks!

John_Malecki (author)DrKZ2017-08-01

Each shelf is 12" Deep and they vary in width. From 14" on the left to 22" on some I believe.

Here is a ladder link

DrKZ (author)John_Malecki2017-08-01

Thanks, this is a big help! Shelving, here we come!

Jedi_zombie85 (author)2017-07-27

This is insane buddy, looks brilliant, hats off to you

Ya its big! Thank you

CatS25 (author)2017-07-27

Awesome job!
Now on my to do list. Where did you find the ladder and what length did you go with?

John_Malecki (author)CatS252017-08-01

Here is the link for the ladder

Its 9'

EdensGrandma (author)2017-07-27

I have a very tall wall. Hmmmmmm. Thanks so much for this lovely bookcase demo.

You're welcome!

wetrat1 (author)2017-07-27

Great Instructable . Really would like more information on the ladder

John_Malecki (author)wetrat12017-08-01

Here is the link for the ladder

BrandonS159 (author)2017-07-27

very nice, where did you get the rolling ladder or how did you build it?

zonkerharris (author)BrandonS1592017-07-27

That's also my question! I'm guessing that he welded it, and maybe he can make an instructable for that?

I'm trying to think about similar shelving for maker supplies (12-18" deep, and sturdy), but how could I adapt a rolling ladder to I have a (pulley-type?) mechanism to raise and lower my supplies in front of a shelf, so I can climb the ladder, and then use one hand to move the materials tub from the wall shelf to the mechanism shelf?

I did not make the ladder. Its for a corporate space and I wasnt messing with that liability. Here is a link

As far as the pulley system You could use a rod and have it roll back and forth above the ladder.

John_Malecki (author)BrandonS1592017-08-01

Here is the link for the ladder

jgwinner (author)2017-07-27


It would be great seeing how it's attached to the wall and the floor. I'd also like to see how the splice works, as I'm assuming your longest vertical was shorter than 13 feet.

I have a 14 foot wall to put bookcases on, so this is an interesting project. I don't want the ladder to pull the books down :)

Love the comment about stacking the piles - some people see clutter, others see potential.

== John ==

John_Malecki (author)jgwinner2017-08-01

I have the fasteners hidden so they arent visible. I used metal L brackets and Concrete screws. The tops are sitting on dominos for alignment in the bottom. The top also has fasteners hidden behind it

Arandall86 (author)2017-07-26

Another great instructable! I really like the glue container you have, could I inquire as to where you acquired it? Thanks again for all the woodworking help.

John_Malecki (author)Arandall862017-08-01 Here is a link!

dogtoes (author)Arandall862017-07-28

I see he's using the Glu-Bot. I *love* mine too! I got mine after seeing Steve over at Woodworking for Mere Mortals use one. You won't regret it.

Jimichan (author)2017-07-31

Tell us about the ladder!

RastaWife (author)2017-07-27

That looks like one bad azz loft apartment . . . love the bookcase!

About This Instructable




Bio: The Builder - 29 year old former NFL athlete turned full time Builder. Specializing in Industrial style Reclaimed furniture and Industrial design aesthetic.
More by John_Malecki:DIY Industrial Barn Door Finish Wood With Fire | 3 Step How- to Leather Cell Phone Case
Add instructable to: