Build a Boat Bookshelf – Great Addition to Any Living Room

Last Updated on March 12, 2024 by teamobn

Bring the beach into your home through this boat bookshelf!
Bring the beach into your home through this boat bookshelf!

Most people opt for the standard bookshelf. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. But some kids have their own preferences. They don’t want something “boring” – the typical bookshelf falls under that category for them.

For parents with children who love to read, consider offering them the chance to select their own bookshelf. Children often have unique tastes and may find standard bookshelves lacking. By choosing their own, they become more engaged in their reading adventures. This choice also adds a personal touch to their living spaces, reflecting their individuality and making their rooms more inviting.

I can see where they’re coming from – who wants a dull bookshelf when you could have something that’s both stylish and practical? I get that it’s about more than just looks, but in today’s market, you need to be able to appeal to potential buyers on all levels. And let’s be honest, a beautiful bookshelf is going to do that a lot more effectively than a plain one.

A boat bookshelf will surely be a standout piece in any room.
A boat bookshelf will surely be a standout piece in any room.

If the allure of the beach captures your heart but distance keeps you away, create a seaside ambiance at home with a DIY boat bookshelf. Ideal for a child’s room or any space with a maritime theme, this bookshelf is not only simple to construct but also brings a slice of coastal serenity into your dwelling.

Have any spare pallets? Transform them into a boat bookshelf for an extraordinary addition to any room. This project not only recycles old materials into a striking piece of furniture but also serves as a creative outlet, turning the mundane into the extraordinary.

Guide to DIY Boat Bookshelf


  • roll of construction paper
  • 1/2 of a sheet of 3/8 inch beaded oak plywood
  • 1/2 of a sheet of 1/4 inch oak plywood (finished on both sides)
  • 1/2 of a sheet of 1/2-inch birch plywood
  • 10 ft of 3/4 inch oak
  • wood glue
  • staples
  • nails
  • the stain of your choice


  • Reciprocating saw with a carbide blade
  • jig saw
  • sander
  • belt sander
  • miter saw
  • drill
  • clamps
  • staple gun
  • finish nailer

Steps to make your own boat bookshelf:

Before beginning this boat bookshelf project, you must gather some pallets. You can use a reciprocating saw with a carbide blade to cut the pallets quickly into pieces. Keep in mind that you will need to cut through any nails that are holding the pallets together. You are ready to begin your project once you have your pallets cut into the desired pieces.

Next, you must cut the pieces for the sides of your boat bookshelf. You can use a miter or a table saw, but the pieces should be at least seven or eight inches long. Ensure you use a sharp blade when cutting, as this will help prevent any jagged edges. Once you have cut the pieces, you can sand them down to create a smoother finish.

To begin, lay five pieces of uncut pallet wood down in a row, ensuring they are all 19 inches wide. Next, use some brackets to secure the wood to the backside. Be sure to use the appropriate nails so that you don’t end up nailing your workpiece down to the table. This will serve as the base of your boat bookshelf!

Once you have the base for your boat bookshelf, you can draw a boat shape from it and attach the side part you cut out earlier. You will now have the basic structure for your boat bookshelf. If you want, you can add extra shelves and some more decoration to your boat, you can paint it or add some stickers. You could also add some extra details like a mast or sails. Be creative and have fun with it!

Click on any image to start the lightbox display. Use your Esc key to close the lightbox.

Take a look at the gallery below and see some great examples of boat bookshelves.

Thanks to Jonathan Ellis for this great project. You can get step-by-step instructions here…

Design Options for Boat Bookshelves

Choosing the right design for your boat bookshelf can transform a room, making it a focal point of interest and conversation. Whether you’re aiming for a nautical theme or just want a unique piece of furniture, boat bookshelves offer a range of design options to fit any space and style.

Classic Nautical Design

For those who love traditional maritime aesthetics, a classic nautical design for your boat bookshelf is ideal. Think of using dark woods like mahogany or walnut, which can be stained to highlight their natural beauty. 

The classic design often features clean lines and a simple silhouette, mirroring the timeless elegance of vintage boats. This style of boat bookshelf adds a touch of sophistication to any room and pays homage to the age-old love for the sea.

Modern and Minimalist

Consider a modern design for your boat bookshelf if your home has a contemporary feel. This style leans towards minimalism, with sleek lines and a more abstract interpretation of a boat. 

Lighter woods or even high-gloss painted finishes in white or bright colors can make the bookshelf a modern art piece in its own right. The modern boat bookshelf is not just a storage solution; it’s a statement piece that can add a fresh, dynamic look to your space.

Whimsical and Playful

A whimsical design for your boat bookshelf can be a delightful addition to children’s rooms or creative spaces. These bookshelves can be painted in bright, playful colors, including fun details like flags or sails. 

This style can inspire imagination and adventure, making it a perfect fit for a child’s playroom or bedroom. Whimsical boat bookshelves serve as a unique storage option and help create an engaging and stimulating environment for kids.

Rustic Charm

A rustic design for your boat bookshelf can be a great choice for a more natural, earthy look. This style typically uses reclaimed wood or distressed finishes, giving the bookshelf a lived-in, cozy feel. The rustic boat bookshelf is perfect for adding warmth to a room and works especially well in cottage-style or country-inspired decor. Incorporating elements like rope details or antique hardware can enhance the rustic appeal.

Coastal Inspired

A coastal-inspired boat bookshelf captures the light, airy feel of seaside living. This design often uses whites, blues, and sandy tones to create a breezy, relaxed vibe. Add accents like seashells, starfish, or stripes to bring the beach into your home. Coastal boat bookshelves are ideal for rooms where you want to create a tranquil, vacation-like atmosphere.

Industrial Edge

For a more urban, edgy look, an industrial design for your boat bookshelf can make a strong visual impact. This style combines metal elements with wood, featuring exposed screws and a more utilitarian feel. An industrial boat bookshelf might use darker metals and reclaimed woods, fitting well in a loft-style apartment or a room with a modern industrial theme.

Vintage Flair

A vintage-style boat bookshelf can add a sense of history and nostalgia to your space. This design can involve repurposing old boat parts or using vintage painting techniques to achieve an aged look. A vintage boat bookshelf can be a centerpiece in a room, bringing a touch of elegance and timelessness.

Each design option for a boat bookshelf offers a unique way to showcase books and other treasures. Whether you prefer a classic, modern, or whimsical style, your boat bookshelf can be a charming and functional piece that reflects your taste and enhances your living space.

Safety Considerations

Ensuring the safety of your boat bookshelf is crucial, especially if it’s placed in a space frequented by children or pets. While the aesthetic appeal of a boat bookshelf is important, prioritizing safety can prevent accidents and ensure a secure environment.

Secure Mounting

Securely mounting a boat bookshelf is essential for preventing accidents, particularly with taller or freestanding models that might be more prone to tipping. To ensure the bookshelf remains stable:

  • Assess the Wall: Before installation, determine the type of wall (drywall, plaster, brick, etc.) and select suitable anchors and brackets. Different wall materials require specific types of hardware for secure mounting.
  • Use Heavy-Duty Mounting Hardware: Opt for high-quality wall anchors and brackets that can support the weight of the bookshelf and its contents. This is crucial for ensuring long-term stability and safety.
  • Regular Inspection: Periodically check the stability of the boat bookshelf. Over time, wall anchors can loosen, especially under the weight of heavy books. Regular inspections help catch and rectify any potential issues before they become hazards.

By prioritizing these secure mounting practices, your boat bookshelf can be both a functional and safe addition to any room.

Rounded Edges

Rounded edges on a boat bookshelf are a key safety feature, particularly in spaces used by children. To effectively minimize injury risks:

  • Choose pre-designed Rounded Models: When selecting a boat bookshelf, look for designs incorporating rounded edges. These are often marketed as child-friendly and designed to minimize sharp corners.
  • DIY Modifications: If you have a boat bookshelf with sharp edges, consider modifying them. This can be done by sanding down the edges to create a smoother, rounded finish. Products available, like corner guards or edge bumpers, can be attached to sharp corners to soften them.
  • Material Consideration: When building or modifying a boat bookshelf, consider using materials that are easier to shape into rounded edges, such as softer woods or certain composites.

Incorporating rounded edges into your boat bookshelf’s design enhances safety and contributes to a more child-friendly environment. Whether through initial design choices or subsequent modifications, prioritizing this aspect can significantly reduce injury risks.

Non-Toxic Materials and Finishes

When building or renovating your boat bookshelf, the choice of materials and finishes is critical, especially for ensuring a safe environment:

  • Selecting Safe Paints and Stains: Opt for paints, stains, and varnishes labeled as non-toxic or low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds). These products minimize the release of harmful chemicals into the air, making them safer, especially in enclosed spaces like children’s rooms.
  • Child-Safe Glues and Adhesives: When assembling your boat bookshelf, use non-toxic adhesives that are safe for children’s items. These glues should be strong enough to hold the bookshelf together securely while being free from harmful chemicals.
  • Checking Certifications: Look for certified products from recognized health and safety organizations. Certifications ensure that the materials meet stringent safety standards, making them appropriate for use in home environments.
  • Awareness of Material Sources: If using wood or other natural materials for your boat bookshelf, verify their sources. Ensure they aren’t treated with harmful chemicals or pesticides that could off-gas toxic substances.

By focusing on non-toxic materials and finishes, your boat bookshelf will be a stylish addition to your home and a safe one, especially in spaces used by children.

Stable Design

A stable and well-balanced design is fundamental for the safety of your boat bookshelf:

  • Weight Distribution: Design your boat bookshelf so that it distributes weight evenly. The base should be sturdy enough to support the shelves’ weight and contents without becoming top-heavy. This can prevent the bookshelf from tipping over.
  • Adding Shelves and Decorations: When adding extra shelves or decorative elements to your boat bookshelf, consider how they affect the overall balance. Ensure that these additions do not make the bookshelf top-heavy or unstable.
  • Testing Stability: Before using the boat bookshelf, perform a stability test. Apply pressure to different areas to ensure it doesn’t wobble or tip over. This step is crucial, especially if the bookshelf is for a child’s room.
  • Reinforcement if Necessary: If the initial design of the boat bookshelf isn’t as stable as desired, consider reinforcing it. This could involve adding a heavier base, securing it with additional brackets, or redistributing the shelving.

By ensuring the boat bookshelf has a stable design, it becomes not just a functional piece of furniture but also a safe one. Attention to stability is especially important in homes with children, where the risk of furniture tipping over needs to be minimized.

Focusing on these safety considerations will make your boat bookshelf a beautiful addition to your home and a safe one. Ensuring stability, using non-toxic materials, and implementing child-friendly features are essential to creating a secure and enjoyable space.

Customization Tips for Boat Bookshelves

Personalizing your boat bookshelf can be a fun and creative process. Here are some tips to make your boat bookshelf uniquely yours:

Paint and Color Schemes

Choose colors that reflect your style or the theme of the room. The right color can completely transform your boat bookshelf, whether it’s bright and bold hues for a playful look or soft, muted tones for a more serene vibe. Consider using stencils or patterns to add an artistic touch.

Adding Decorative Elements

Consider attaching additional features like a miniature ship’s wheel, anchor, or nautical ropes to enhance the maritime theme of your boat bookshelf. These elements can be found at craft stores or online. Attaching these decorative pieces can add an extra layer of authenticity and charm.

Personalized Touches

Add elements that reflect your hobbies or interests for a more personalized touch. This could be anything from themed bookends to custom nameplates. If the boat bookshelf is for a child, let them choose some decorations or themes, making the bookshelf reflect their personality.

FAQ on DIY Boat Bookshelf

What materials are best for building a boat bookshelf?

The best materials for a boat bookshelf are sturdy woods like oak, birch, or pine. You can use reclaimed wood or repurpose old pallets for a more sustainable option.

Can I make a boat bookshelf if I’m new to woodworking?

Yes, a boat bookshelf project can be suitable for beginners. Start with a simple design and follow detailed instructions. Ensure you have the right tools and take safety precautions.

How do I ensure my boat bookshelf is stable?

To ensure stability, ensure the base is wide and sturdy. Use appropriate brackets and wall anchors to mount the bookshelf securely, especially if it’s tall or freestanding.

What are some safe paint options for my boat bookshelf?

For safe paint options, look for non-toxic, low-VOC paints. These are safer for indoor use, especially in children’s rooms.

How can I customize my boat bookshelf?

Customize your boat bookshelf with paint, decorative elements like ropes or anchors, and personalized touches like themed bookends or custom nameplates.

Is it necessary to anchor my boat bookshelf to the wall?

Yes, especially for taller bookshelves or if it will be used in a child’s room. Anchoring prevents tipping and enhances safety.

Can I modify an existing bookshelf into a boat shape?

Absolutely! You can modify an existing bookshelf by reshaping it and adding maritime elements. Just ensure any structural changes don’t compromise the bookshelf’s stability.

How much time does it take to build a bookshelf?

The time to build a boat bookshelf varies depending on your skill level and the complexity of the design. On average, it can take a weekend to complete.

What tools do I need to build a bookshelf?

Common tools include a saw (jigsaw or reciprocating saw), drill, sander, clamps, staple gun, and finish nailer. The exact tools depend on your design and materials.

How can I make my bookshelf child-friendly?

To make it child-friendly, use non-toxic materials, ensure stable construction, round off sharp edges, and securely anchor it to the wall.


Creating your DIY boat bookshelf is not just a rewarding project, but it also brings a unique, nautical charm to any room. With options for customization and safety, these bookshelves offer both functionality and a creative outlet. Making a boat bookshelf can be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience, providing a special and personal touch to your living space.



Search All Projects:


Our Deal For Today!

Your details will never be shared with any third party. Unsubscribe at any time with a single click.

The posts on this site sometimes contain an affiliate link or links to Amazon or other marketplaces. An affiliate link means that this business may earn advertising or referral fees if you make a purchase through those links.