Daybed with Built-in Shelving

Daybed with Built-in Shelving

Turn an old, unused bookshelf into a new daybed with carpenter David Leon’s instructions.

5 col

This project will turn a regular bookshelf into a bookshelf with a seating area. To do this, we will cut the bookshelf down to 24 inches and add a plywood top with twin mattress over it.

Twin-bed sized cushion
Sandpaper 150-grit
(2) pieces of pre-cut plywood large enough to hold up twin mattress (at least 38” by 75”)
(1) pre-existing bookcase at least 72 inches tall
(6) 24-inch long 2” by 4” pieces of wood
(1) 1/16-inch compressed cardboard for backing (measured to cover the back of the finished bookcase)
Screw gun/screwdriver
Paint rollers with sponge ends (not regular roller brushes)
Paint - Interior/Exterior hi-gloss paint with primer
Wood glue
3-inch wood screws
(6) 3” by 3” flat metal brackets
Tape measure


Disassemble Bookcase:

  1. Remove shelves from bookcase. Save the shelves for re-install
  2. Remove dowels that hold shelves. Save all hardware for re-assembly
  3. Use screwdriver to disassemble the framing of the bookshelf

Cut and paint vertical uprights:

  1. Have vertical uprights of bookcase cut to 24 inches. You should now have (4) 24-inch vertical uprights in order to create a bookshelf with 3 columns. (4 vertical uprights create 3 bookcase columns.)
  2. Sand the shelves, the new 24-inch vertical uprights, and the original top bookcase piece with 150-grit sandpaper. Be sure to sand with the grain of the wood
  3. Paint uprights and shelves with high-gloss paint with primer
  4. Allow time to dry

Reassemble bookshelf daybed:


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  1. Assemble new 3-column bookcase, by attaching vertical uprights to the new plywood piece using the hardware from the original bookcase. To attach properly, be sure the pinholes on the vertical uprights are facing inside. This will allow you to put the dowels in later for the shelving. The new top of the bookshelf daybed will be the plywood you bought, as you are swapping the former top piece and it becomes the bottom. This is because the plywood will be a stronger base for the bed’s surface
  2. Insert dowels into the pre-existing pin holes on inside of vertical uprights and place shelves on top of dowels
  3. Attach compressed cardboard backing to the back of the bookcase with 1-inch nails and hammer, nailing into the outside edges (bottom, left and right sides) of the bookcase. This prevents your books from falling through the back of the bookcase.

Create support posts:

  1. Create posts to support the plywood and cushion by attaching (2) 24-inch long 2” by 4”s together with wood glue, 3-inch wood screws and drill. Drill these screws into the holes of the flat metal brackets. Do this 3 times so you have at least 3 support posts with metal brackets
  2. Attach flat metal bracket to top and bottom of each support post using screw and drill

Setup in room:

  1. Place the new bookshelf in room at desired location with shelves facing out. Make sure the bookcase is sitting so that the front side of the bookcase is 38 inches away from the wall. This will allow the cushion to sit on top and keep the bookcase at the front
  2. Measure the distance from the back edge of the bookcase to the wall. Cut that in half so you know the midway point from the bookcase to the wall. Keep that measurement
  3. Lay the plywood down on top of the bookcase and ensure the cardboard backing you installed sits just behind it. Place the 2” by 4” support posts you created underneath of the plywood. Position the support posts using the measurement you just took — you want the support posts to sit centered between the bookcase and the wall. Place 1 support post centered in the middle of the plywood length-wise. Space the other two out equally along the plywood so you have one post in the middle and the other 2 in regular intervals to the left and right
  4. Using a pencil, trace where the holes are in the metal bracket of the support posts onto the plywood. This will show you where to attach screws when you attach the plywood to the support posts
  5. Position the support posts in the corresponding location on the ground behind the bookcase. You want one support post centered completely — both vertically and horizontally — behind the bookcase. The other 2 support posts should be at regular intervals to the left and right, as you previously positioned on the plywood and marked. Place plywood on top of the bookcase with the support post holes you traced sitting up
  6. Nail through the plywood into the top of the support posts at the points you marked
  7. Place twin bed cushion on top

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