— whollyKao

the Anthro bookcase

Have you ever seen something in a catalog, gawked at the price tag, and thought ‘I could totally make that?‘ That was my reaction to this bookcase in the Anthro catalog. Cool vintage books, beautiful bookcase, but why the heck does it cost $1400?

So I set off to make my own. The case is custom made to fit certain books. I wanted to make one for our cookbooks, so that’s what I based my measurements around. It’s made by gluing a lot of slivers of plywood together.

At first, I thought I could just buy a big piece of birch plywood and get the guys at Home Depot to chop it down to the many individual pieces. I never got around to trying that. I asked my dad instead, when we were home for Christmas. Lucky for me, my dad’s a pretty great woodworker. And he’s got all the necessary tools to cut the wood. After seeing how much work it was to cut all the 1-inch, and 2-inch segments, I’m glad I didn’t ask at Home Depot. They would’ve laughed in my face and told me to buy a saw instead.

I had my dad cut several pieces of wood at these heights (below). The book ends are 8.5-inches tall. And yes, I carried all the pieces back to Dallas with me in my carry-on!

To determine how many pieces I needed at each height, I measured the spine of the cookbooks we had at home.

I sanded all the pieces with super fine sandpaper. In the process, I inhaled a bunch of sawdust and injured my shoulder. Next time, I think I’ll have to get an automatic sander. After sanding, I arranged the wood pieces to make sure the books and case would look nice together.
Then it came down to gluing and staining the case. I used strong wood glue and a dark wood stain (no varnish).
The wood was actually kind of tough to glue together, because all the interior segments are different heights.

So the steps were: glue, wait 24 hours, then stain. I did two coats of stain, sanding the wood down with steel wool after each coat. Here it is after the first coat:

I haven’t had a lot of experience with wood glue or stain, but I learned that I should be more careful with the glue. The areas where the glue dribbled over ended up being stain-resistant. And that’s even after I wiped off the excess glue and sanded the area. It didn’t ruin the case, but it’s not very pretty.

After the stain was all dry, my bookcase was ready to go.

By itself, the case isn’t that impressive. But once you load the cookbooks on, it looks pretty sweet. I especially like how the cookbook colors accent the dark wood.

So there you have it: the Anthro bookcase. And done for waay under $1400. If I had my own fancy saw, I’d make more of these and give them as gifts. Some day, perhaps?



This post was featured on

  1. […] whollykao.com […]

  2. […] Tutorial for Collection Bookshelf here. […]

  3. […] Via whollykao.com […]

  4. 40 Easy DIY Bookshelf Plans | Guide Patterns says: February 28, 20153:30 AM

    […]  The Anthro Bookshelf […]

  5. 38 Anthropologie Hacks | Gized says: February 27, 201510:55 PM

    […] whollykao.com […]

  6. […] whollykao.com […]

  7. […] Source: Whollykao […]

  8. 25 Awesome DIY Ideas For Bookshelves | Ukraine says: December 25, 20144:35 PM

    […] Via whollykao.com […]

  9. 16 Anthropologie Hacks With DIY | Colors And Joy says: September 25, 201411:13 AM

    […] 1. Build this bookcase.Source : whollykao.com | Instruction here. […]

  10. […] 7. Book Case […]

  11. […] 7. Book Case […]

  12. […] 7. Book Case […]

  13. […] เรียบเรียงโดย: http://www.banindy.com ขอบคุณ: whollykao.com […]

  14. […] whollykao.com […]

  15. maggie says: July 12, 201411:27 PM

    Very cool. I actually bought an excellent saw a few months ago and for the record, it was about $400. So, at $1400, you could actually buy three fancy saws and give two away as gifts and still have money left over for the wood, glue, and stain. On second thought, just make the bookshelves. :)

  16. […] DIY Instructions and Project Credit – Whollykao […]

  17. Donna says: June 18, 20149:59 AM

    The price is for the vintage books-6 to be exact and they are hardly vintage-the whole thing is worth less than $50 and easily made.

  18. Marie says: March 27, 20141:24 PM

    Would anybody be able to make this for me if I paid them a fair price? I LOVE the design, but am a huge DIY klutz and will never be able to do it myself.

    • Jason says: May 28, 20147:33 AM

      Are you still interested in someone building you one of these? If so, How many books are you looking to hold? Send me an email to lindelium18@gmail.com and I will see what we can work out. Also, where do you live?

  19. connerctvr.soup.io says: February 7, 20149:00 AM

    Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could
    locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m
    using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding
    one? Thanks a lot!

  20. Wooden Bookcase | Estroo says: January 9, 20145:10 AM

    […] Per accedere al tutorial clicca qui […]

  21. HOMEMADE BOOKSHELVES | Health and Household says: November 7, 201310:52 AM

    […] source […]

  22. Helpful Tip Friday | Furnish 123 Clarksville says: November 1, 20131:07 AM

    […] DIY Book Display […]

  23. […] DIY Anthro-inspired bookshelf, from Wholly Kao. The Anthro version of this bookshelf was $1400!! Hop on over to the hardware […]

  24. Name (required)sam says: September 16, 20133:08 AM

    Yes, yes, but in the Antro one, all the tops of the books line up, that’s the point of the different levels!

    • Kimberly says: August 15, 20141:08 AM

      You’re right. The Anthropology one does have them lined up.the solution would be to put the tallest books in the lowest slot and make width accordingly.in other words just swap width for height,if that makes sense?centering all measurements around the tallest book and subtracting from overall height would give you the measurements needed for the slats. Hard to explain.sorry if I’m totally inadequate at explaining.lol.but honestly i like the diy better than the Anthropology one.

  25. Creative Home Ideas says: August 23, 20133:46 AM

    […] quick Google search for “homemade Anthropologie bookshelves” later, I was reading through Wholly Kao’s post on that exact subject.  The tutorial is extremely thorough, so before you break the bank buying […]

  26. A Few DIY Crafts for the Home « says: August 12, 201310:18 PM

    […] saw this DIY on Pinterest and knew this was the project for me. Wholly Kao did an amazing tutorial for this book holder. I love cook books, you could call it an…. […]

  27. […] via whollyKao […]

  28. […] ที่มา: whollykao […]

  29. […] the Anthro bookcase […]

  30. […] Fotos: Wholly Kao […]

  31. On Being a Writer says: July 19, 201311:25 AM

    […] imagine my surprise when I saw this shared on my Facebook page: Whollykao.com – The Anthro Bookcase! Its also a great way to have mini bookshelves around the house, like on a kitchen counter if you […]

  32. […] what Esther at Wholly Kao did. By gluing together slivers of plywood, she created a remarkable DIY bookcase-cum-sculpture […]

  33. […] DIY Anthro knockoff bookcase – http://whollykao.com/2012/01/11/the-anthro-bookcase/ […]

  34. 38 Anthropologie DIY Hacks says: June 10, 201311:31 PM

    […] Instructions here. […]

  35. […] Instructions here. […]

  36. Tried&Twisted says: June 6, 20138:06 AM

    This is great! Looks exactly like the original! I saw this featured on BuzzFeed.

    • whollykao says: June 6, 20135:15 PM

      Aw thanks Sara! And thanks for stopping by my blog!

  37. […] Instructions here. […]

  38. 38 Anthropologie Hacks - EyeOnCelebs says: June 5, 20133:15 PM

    […] Instructions here. […]

  39. […] glue some birch plywood together and stain. Click here for the […]

  40. 10 DIY Inspiring Bookshelf Designs says: January 14, 20135:02 AM

    […] Anthro bookshelf is perfect for a small book collection; you can also add more pieces of wood to create a home for […]

  41. DIY : MOST CREATIVE BOOKSHELVES « says: July 11, 20121:49 AM
  42. […] 25. Stained Plywood Book Display Case […]

  43. workshopbg.com says: June 29, 201212:45 PM

    […] на проблема е библиотечката, която е показана в whollykao.com. Тя е направена от шперплат, който е нарязан на парчета […]

  44. Apartments | Pearltrees says: April 29, 20124:36 AM

    […] the Anthro bookcase « whollykao Before & After: TV Tray Table Gets Decked Out As part of my ongoing quest to add some color to my grey living room, I picked up one of these inexpensive tv tray tables at Target and decided to give it the before and after treatment. Yes, there is spray paint involved. And lamp finials. Is it possible to find a laundry hamper that's cheap, sturdy, and so stylish that it makes you feel like Jean Seberg in 1960s Paris? […]

  45. Sally says: April 16, 20121:09 AM

    I read 90% of the article thinking that he should have made the outside panels higher like the anthropology one. I didn’t realize until the end that the one I was assuming was the expensive store-bought one was the one he made!

  46. dressupforme says: April 12, 201210:54 AM

    thsi is soo cool and creative! I just watched yoru otehr DIY projects and all of tham are so creative! Thia actually ia genius and when I opened I thought this will be a difficut wood cutting instructions but you really suprised me…(and my friands say that’s difficult ;) )

    Give you a high five for this and teh other things! Lobelly, please never stop this – you are more than good at this!

    Greetings from Lithuania!


    • whollykao says: April 13, 20122:08 AM

      Aw, thanks! :)

  47. :) Doro (: says: April 11, 20124:18 AM

    That is awesome, and I’ll be totally trying this! Thanks for sharing! :)

  48. montanachic says: April 10, 20121:24 AM

    Seriously so amazing!

  49. Wood Book Holder says: April 10, 201212:00 AM

    […] a fun way to put some of your prized books or cookbooks on display from Esther at wholly Kao. Esther made a holder for her cookbooks out of pieces of wood that were cut to varying heights, […]

  50. […] here is a bookcase with a similar design.  Apparently the crafter in question came up with this design after seeing a […]

  51. Marloes Pieper says: February 2, 20121:04 PM

    Turned out great! I like how the book tops don’t match up!

    • sam says: October 8, 20142:08 PM

      But isn’t that the all point of that original bookcase? To make a all bunch of disparate books appears the same height, to make the all thing as a solid block? In that respect this is a miss…

  52. supamoto says: January 30, 201210:55 PM

    The original work is a lot like this one by Mike & Maaike, which cut out an indentation out of a piece of solid wood.


    • whollykao says: January 31, 20125:02 AM

      Thanks for sharing that link! The shelves by Mike & Maaike are great.

  53. Tina @ Squirrel Acorns says: January 28, 20122:04 PM

    Awesome job! I like yours better than the Anthro one! Need to show this to my woodworking husband.

  54. Rebakah says: January 28, 201212:46 PM


  55. Anthro Bookcase | Marla's Art Page Blog says: January 22, 201211:12 PM

    […] woodworking today.  I have been seeing pictures of this small bookcase and liked the look of it.  Wholly Koa show you how to put it all together. Rate this: Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  56. Kelli @ The Turquoise Piano says: January 22, 20125:14 PM

    This is brilliant! Great job!

    • whollykao says: January 23, 20122:13 AM

      Thanks Kelli!

  57. […] {6} WhollyKao: Anthro Bookcase […]

  58. […] Аt first you should decide what books you want to put on it. The bookcase should be made according to their size. You can make it from plywood scraps so the project is really cheap. You need to cut these craps to appropriate sizes, glue together and cover with the stain you like. For more details, visit whollykao. […]

  59. jaime says: January 21, 20129:41 AM

    The $1400 includes the 6 vintage books. i was wondering why the cost was so crazy so i clicked on the link to check it out.

    • whollykao says: January 21, 20122:59 PM

      Those must be some rare books (collector’s edition, perhaps)! Or at least cool enough to merit the price tag!

  60. Shauna C. says: January 19, 20129:16 AM

    Saw you on craftgawker, as well. This is great and I actually like yours better than the anthro one! I like how the sides of yours are higher, I think you executed this idea a little better than they did ;] Now to find a friend with a saw….

    • whollykao says: January 20, 20123:06 AM

      Thanks Shauna — I’m flattered!

  61. […] Hent arbejdstegning og se flere billeder på hjemmesiden Wholly Kao  […]

  62. Megan says: January 19, 20121:05 AM

    Came over from Craft Gawker and, boy, am I glad I did! This is a terrific idea. I think I’ll try to make one for my husband (who loves his cookbooks) and my sister (who loves anthropologie). Thanks so much for sharing!

    • whollykao says: January 20, 20123:07 AM

      Glad you like it, Megan. Have fun making your own. I’m sure your husband and sister will love their book cases!

  63. wood pencil holder | whollykao says: January 16, 20122:32 AM

    […] that Anthro book case I posted about last week? When I was making it, I had some leftover wood slivers. So I decided to […]

  64. steph says: January 11, 201212:31 PM

    Love this! Great job!

Leave a comment