How to Make a Children's Book Bin

This built-from-scratch book bin puts grabbing something to read in reach of even toddlers. Learn how to make your own book storage with a pretty wallpapered interior.

Organize a playroom, reading corner, or children's bedroom with this straightforward solution for storing books. Made from affordable MDF (medium density fiberboard), this DIY book bin designed by Helen Milan features three large compartments to accommodate picture books of various sizes. Customize it with your choice of paint, then line the interior with your favorite adhesive shelf liner or temporary wallpaper.

colorful framed artwork and books in playroom

How to Make a Book Bin

Supplies Needed

  • ¾"x4'x8' Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
  • Table saw or portable circular saw and straightedge
  • Four clamps with at least 16" of jaw capacity
  • Wood glue (optional)
  • Cordless drill/driver
  • Countersink drill bit
  • #8x1½" flathead screws (46)
  • Wood putty
  • Spackling knife
  • Sandpaper or sanding block
  • Tack cloth
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush or paint roller
  • Wallpaper (optional), we used Dalmation Spot from Livettes Wallpaper
  • Four legs
  • Four leg mounting plates

Step 1: Cut Wood

Cut all the wood pieces using a table saw or a portable circular saw and straightedge. A table saw works best, ensuring square pieces of uniform width and length. You'll need:

  • One ¾"x16"x36" MDF for the bottom
  • Two ¾"x9"x36" MDF for the front and back
  • Four ¾"x9"x14½" MDF for the ends and dividers

Use extra care when using portable tools to ensure precise cuts. MDF is a man-made material, widely available at home centers, that will not warp or crack over time. It also sands easily and takes paint well. But you could, instead, use pine for lighter-weight assembly.

check angles of book bin with carpenters square

Step 2: Clamp the Boards into Position

Lay the bottom board (¾"x16"x36") on a flat work surface. Stand the front, back, ends, and dividers on top of the base in their final positions. Place clamps across the width of the assembly at each end and at the dividers to hold the pieces in place. With the clamps in position, but not fully tightened, tap the ends and dividers until they are spaced 11" apart, square to the front and back, and all adjoining edges are flush. If desired, you can add wood glue to the joints before tightening the clamps so the pieces can't move.

Step 3: Screw Together

Where each piece meets another, draw a line showing where the screws should go, so that they center on the edge of the adjoining piece. With a countersink drill bit, drill three equally spaced holes, each with a counterbore just deep enough to hold whatever material will hide the screw head. Drive the screws through the front and back and into the ends and dividers. Do not attach the bottom board. Be careful not to overdrive the screws; doing so could make MDF bulge.

attach bottom of book bin with screws

Step 4: Attach Base

Remove the clamps. Flip the assembly over and position the bottom. Screw on the bottom.

Step 5: Fill the Holes and Paint

Fill the screw holes with wood putty. Let them dry, then sand any rough surfaces and sharp edges. Wipe away sawdust with a tack cloth. Apply two coats paint to the bin and legs, then let dry completely.

kids books organized in diy white bin

Step 6: Line with Wallpaper (Optional)

If you like, line the dividers with temporary wallpaper or adhesive shelf liner. You can order the pieces precut from the source listed above or cut them to size yourself. Make sure you purchase enough to cover all inside surfaces.

add mounting plates to back for legs

Step 7: Attach Legs

Screw on a leg mounting plate near each corner of the bottom, about 1" from edges. Thread a leg into each mounting plate.

Updated by
Helen Milan

Helen (Milan) Thompson is a designer and founder of the eponymous brand, Helen Milan. Her company focuses on beautiful, ethical, and low-impact products for simple living. Helen has been an advocate for sustainability and fair trade through her home and travel goods. Her mission is to create earth-friendly, zero-waste items and aims to replace single-use plastics in every family's household.

As a columnist, Helen has collaborated with online publications, like Les Petits Gazette. She's also been a writer and film reviewer for the Special Broadcasting Service in Australia. Helen graduated from the San Diego State University, majoring in communications and political science. Prior, she studied international studies at the University of Technology, Sydney, and attended The University of New South Wales for business certifications and technology.

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