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Bookshelf Tree

Grow this bookshelf project for your little ones. Build it using simple tools and an easy-to-follow pattern. Then decorate it in bright colors to help your child’s imagination grow.

bookshelf tree with toys and books

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Jigsaw with fine-tooth blade
  • Miter box and handsaw
  • Stud finder
  • Cordless drill and countersink
  • Router with 1/8-in round-over bit (optional)
  • Sawhorses
  • Circle compass


  • 3/4-in x 49-in x 97-in medium density fiberboard
  • 2 - 1 x 6 x 8 poplar boards
  • Painter’s tape
  • #8 x 2-in flathead wood screws
  • #8 x 1-1/4-in flathead wood screws
  • 120 and 180-grit sandpaper
  • Spray adhesive

Valspar Signature paint, quarts:

  • Stormy Purple (#1002-5A)
  • Very Berry (#1002-1A)
  • Rose Dust (1002-1B)
  • Berry Twist (#1002-1C)

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Project Resources


Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

Cut Out a Tree

Step 1

Place a 3/4-in-thick sheet of medium density fiberboard (MDF) on a pair of sawhorses and draw a diagonal line where shown (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). This will be the centerline of the front/back of the tree bookcase.

Step 2

Apply the first pattern to the mdf

Print the Project Diagram and cut the 17 pieces of paper along the dashed lines as indicated on the patterns. Spray the back of pattern 1 with spray adhesive and set the pattern on the MDF. Align the center marks on the pattern with the centerline drawn on the MDF; adjust the pattern until the corner of the pattern aligns with the edge of the panel. The patterns can now align with each other (Project Diagram, Drawing 2) in sequence to form the outline of the tree.

Good to Know

Spray the back of the pattern lightly for easy removal after cutting the board. To remove the pattern, peel from the edge slowly. Soaking any stubborn areas with mineral spirits will soften the glue and the pattern can be peeled off with a putty knife.

Step 3

After reaching the top, add left branch patterns

Continue placing the patterns on the MDF, aligning the edges of pattern 2 with pattern 1. When you get to pattern 7, you have reached the top of the tree. Now move to the left side of the tree and begin adding the branch patterns from the bottom up.

Step 4

After reaching the top, move to left branches

With the left side complete, add the right branches to complete the tree pattern.

Step 5

After reaching the top, move to left branches

Cut the waste sections from the tree following the pattern. After you cut out several sections on the side of the trunk nearest the MDF edges, cut the whole tree from the rest of the MDF sheet by sawing just outside the pattern. If you make all the detail cuts before separating the sheet, it will be hard to support the weight of the tree without snapping off the branches. Cut the rest of the small waste areas away to make a tree.

Step 6

trace a the first tree to grow a second

Sand the edges of the tree with a sanding block and 120 grit sand paper. Once all of the edges are smooth, set the completed tree on the remaining MDF sheet and trace to make the duplicate back.

Step 7

Cut the second MDF tree to create an identical front and back. Soften all edges with sandpaper. If you have a router, round over all of the edges with a 1/8-in round-over bit to speed the process.

Step 8

Cut the colorful discs from the remaining MDF (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Soften the edges and then sand all the surfaces with 180-grit sandpaper.

Build the Tree

Step 1

Cut the trunk (A) and branches (B through K) from 1 x 6 poplar boards (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Sand the boards and ease the corners on the ends of the boards with sandpaper.

Step 2

Glue the trunk to the tree and secure with tape

Add glue to one edge of the trunk and position on the tree back (A), secure the trunk while the glue dries to the tree with strips of painter’s tape. Position a couple of the discs under the tree back to make it easier to secure the trunk to the tree with the tape. The trunk is flush at the bottom of the tree, and centered as you move up the tree.

Step 3

Now begin installing the branches, using the same process, apply glue to the edge of the branch and secure it to the tree with painter’s tape. Just but the branch against the trunk and center them on the tree cutouts.

Step 4

Add the front to complete a tree

Apply the tree front to the branches using glue and painter’s tape.

Paint and Plant a Tree

Step 1

Apply paint to the tree and the discs following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 2

Set the tree in position in your room and with the help of a stud finder, locate where the tree will cross the studs in the wall. Mark the spots on the tree. To keep the screws out of sight, mark the screw locations on the top side of the branches.

Step 3

Position the discs and secure them to the tree, drive the screws through the back surfaces to the tree. The back discs should be located so you will have a place to drive the screws through the discs into the wall studs to secure the tree to the wall (Project Diagram, Drawing 2 and 4).