Build a Catalog Bookcase with Brass Legs

Anyone with children likely knows the struggle to keep the contents of a bookcase organized. This kid-friendly catalog bookcase provides a solution with its pull-out drawers and moveable dividers. I’d love to take design credit, but the genius idea belongs to my friend Sarah from The Created Home. She put together both beginner and advanced plans for this bookcase, and today we’re sharing tutorials for both versions. Here you’ll find the instructions to build the beginner version of the catalog bookcase. If you’d like to try the advanced version, be sure to check out Sarah’s advanced catalog bookcase tutorial

Whichever build you choose, I’m fairly certain you’ll love the drawers with adjustable dividers, the no-weld legs made from square brass pulls, and the rows of shiny campaign bail pulls. Let’s get building!  

What You Need to Build The Catalog Bookcase

*  This post has affiliate links for your convenience. You can read my full disclosure policy here  *

Materials

Tools

  • Pocket Hole Jig
  • Table Saw
  • Miter Saw
  • Sander + Sandpaper
  • Hack Saw or Coping Saw (or use threaded rods)
  • Drill + drill bit capable of making a hole in metal
  • Clamps

This post provides the tutorial and general building instructions. To download the printable plans, click here.

HOW TO BUILD THE CATALOG BOOKCASE​

CONSTRUCT THE FRAME + SHELVES

Begin by constructing the frame of the bookcase. Cut four pieces, identical in size, to form the bookcase top, bottom, and two shelves. Next, cut two bookcase sides. 

Maple Lumber Bookcase Pieces

Make pocket holes on both ends of the top piece, bottom piece, and each shelf, then join together with 1-1/4″ pocket hole screws.

Put Together Pieces for Bookcase
Pocket Hole Bookcase Construction

Use a carpenter’s square to ensure the bookcase pieces meet at 90 degree angles.

Right Angle Bookcase
Maple Bookcase with Shelves

BRASS DRAWER PULL LEGS

I love the look of brass legs on furniture, but without welding skills, I haven’t been able to incorporate them into any of my builds. Until now. Sarah came up with a no-weld method that utilizes brass drawer pulls. If you have a drill or drill press, clamps, a sander and some super glue, you can make these no-weld metal furniture legs. I still want to learn how to weld, but until then, I’ll be doing it this way! 

 

To begin, drill two 5/32″ holes into three 10″ square brass pulls. The placement of the holes doesn’t really matter. 

Drill into Drawer Pulls to Make Brass Legs
How to Make Brass Legs for Furniture without Welding

I clamped each brass pull in place and set my drill press to the slowest speed possible. Don’t forget your safety gear here, as drilling into metal produces tiny metal shavings. 

After each brass pull had two 5/32″ holes, I changed to a 5/16″ bit to create a countersink hole. Watch out here not to drill to far, or you’ll just create a 5/16″ hole (a mistake I made at one point).

Countersink Hole in Brass Legs

Attach Brass Pull "Leg" to Bookcase

On the bottom of the bookcase mark the placement of the three legs. Add drops of CA glue to each pull then set in place and apply pressure. Next, I pre-drilled a 3/32″ hole into the bookcase, through the holes in the brass pulls made in the previous step. Attach pulls to the bookcase with #6, 1-1/4″ wood screws. 

Attaching Brass Legs to Bookcase
Making Brass Legs for Bookcase
Secure Brass Leg to Bookcase
Three Sets of Brass Legs for Bookcase
Brass Tops Attached to Bookcase

ATTACH ADDITIONAL PULLS TO COMPLETE BRASS LEGS

To complete the legs we’ll attach brass pulls to the ones fixed to the bookcase. 

The brass pulls come with machine screws, but before we can use them, we need to remove the heads (you can also purchase threaded rods at your local hardware store if you’d prefer to skip this step). I held the screw in place using the vice on my DIY portable assembly tableand removed the screw’s head with my terrible coping saw. I wasn’t sure if I would have any luck, but in a matter of seconds I had the head more than halfway off, as you can see in the photo on the right.  

Remove Head from Machine Screw
Removing Head from Machine Screw

After a few more seconds the head was off. Repeat for all six screws.

Head Removed from Machine Screw

Sand Threads off Three Screws

Now, sand off the threads from three of the “screws.” Only sand the threads off of half of the screw. You’ll use these in the final brass-leg-making step.

I clamped the screw to my workbench, then sanded the exposed half for a few seconds with 80 grit sandpaper. Unclamp, rotate the screw, and continue sanding. Wear gloves, because the screw is hot. Continue until the threads are gone from all sides of half of the screw.

Sand off Threads of Screw
Sand off Threads of Screw Closeup

You should now have six headless screws; three with the threads sanded off from half, and three with the threads intact. 

Screws Needed to Make DIY Brass Furniture Legs

Take the three headless, threads-intact screws, and add one to each leg. Put a bit of CA glue onto the threads of each and twist them into the threads of the drawer pulls already fastened to the bookcase. 

Prepare Brass Legs

Now, add some CA glue to the remainder of the screw, and twist a drawer pull onto it. 

Attach Brass Pull to Brass Pull to Make Legs

Keep rotating until the drawer pull is fastened tightly against the other. 

Screw Together Brass Pull to Brass Pull to Make Legs
Screw Together Brass Pull to Brass Pull to Make Legs 2
Final Step Brass Pull to Brass Pull to Make Legs

Finally, to complete the drawer pull brass legs, we need to attach the other side. This is where you’ll need the half-threads-sanded-off-headless screws.

How to Make Brass Legs from Brass Pulls

After twisting the threaded side into the drawer pull, add some CA glue to the remainder of the screw.

How to Make Brass Legs from Brass Pulls Using CA Glue

Because the threads are gone, you can push the drawer pull into place:

How to Make Brass Legs from Brass Pulls Using Sanded Screw
How to Make Brass Legs from Brass Pulls Using Sanded Screw-2
How to Make Brass Legs from Brass Pulls Using Sanded Screw 3

I clamped the drawer pull in place while the glue dried to ensure it stayed properly aligned. 

Clamp Brass Drawer Pulls to Make Brass Furniture Legs

Repeat until all three legs are completed. 

I’m jumping ahead here, but I have to show you the final product, so that you can be sure all that work was worth it (truth is, it’s really not that much work, it just takes a lot of photos to explain the process!). Don’t these brass drawer pull legs look awesome? 

Maple Bookcase with Campaign Bail Pulls

Fasten Nailers to Back

Something to know about the catalog bookcase is, IT’S HEAVY!  You’ll want this to be securely fastened to the studs in the wall behind it, which is why you need to attach nailers to the back of the bookcase. I attached one directly underneath the top (pictured below), as well as another underneath the bottom shelf (not pictured). I attached it with pocket holes and screws, but you could also use wood glue, or both! 

Once you’r’e finished building the bookcase you’ll securely fasten it to the wall with screws through these nailers. 

Attach Nailer to Bookcase
Attach Nailer to Bookcase Top

Build Drawers

Cut lumber for drawers, then make pocket holes on the front and back pieces.

Maple Lumber for Bookcase Drawer
Verify Drawer is Square

Join drawer pieces together with 1-1/4″ pocket hole screws. Use clamps and squares to ensure all angles are 90 degrees.

Construct Bookcase Drawer with Clamps

Cut 1/4″ plywood and attach to bottom of drawer with nails or screws:

Add Bottom To Drawer

Add Drawers to Bookshelf

*FYI : I completed this step before attaching the drawer bottoms.*

To attach the drawer slides, I first clamped two long pieces of 1×3 lumber to the bookcase. These 1×3’s will be used to help properly place the drawer slides.

Tips for to Install Drawer Slides

Set the drawer slide back 3/4″ from the front of the bookcase (or however thick your drawer face is). Predrill holes then attach the drawer slide to the bookcase with screws.  Repeat for the drawer slide on the other side of the bookcase.

How to Install Drawer Slides
Scrap Wood Jig to Make Installing Drawers Easy

Pull out the drawer slides so that they are fully extended on both sides. Set the drawer box in place on the 1x3s (the front of the drawer should be flush with the front of the fully-extended drawer slides). 

Tips for Installing Drawer Slides
Make Installing Drawers Easy Using Scrap Wood

Attach the drawer slides to the drawer with screws: 

Make Installing Drawers Easy Using Easy Jig
How I Install Drawers and Drawer Slides

Prepare Drawer Faces

After drawer faces are cut to size, create a faux panel look by cutting five shallow grooves into each drawer face. 

Cut Grooves in Drawer Front

I used my homemade crosscut sled on the table saw to cut these grooves. To make the process somewhat quick, I added a stop block to make repeatable cuts. 

Use Crosscut Sled to Cut Grooves in Drawer Front
Use Crosscut Sled with Stop Block to Cut Grooves in Drawer Front

The blade height is set about 1/8″ above the crosscut sled, which you can see below: 

Blade Height to Cut Grooves into Drawer Fronts

With the stop block in place on my crosscut sled, I cut the grooves on the left end of each drawer face. I then flipped the drawer face and cut the grooves on the right end of each one.

Cut Grooves into Drawer Face Step One

I readjusted my stop block, then made six more cuts.

Cut Grooves into Drawer Face Step Two

My crosscut sled isn’t big enough to set a stop block for the last cut, so I made the final cut on each drawer face individually.

Cut Grooves into Drawer Face Step Three

Add DRAWER PULLS

Normally we’d save this step for last, but getting these drawer pulls perfectly lined up is essential, and easiest to do before the faces are attached to the drawers.

I made a simple marking template on a scrap of 1/4″ plywood. It made quick work of marking the drill spots for the hardware. 

Scrap Wood to Mark Placement of Holes for Drawer Hardware
Scrap Wood Marking Placement for Hardware

Use a 3/8″ drill bit to make slightly oversized holes for the hardware. Clamp a straight edge to the drawer face, then push the hardware against the straight edge to get them perfectly aligned.

Install Drawer Hardware
Brass Campaign Bail Pull

Add some CA glue to the back of each drawer pull for an entire drawer face, then reposition the hardware on the drawer face against the straight edge. 

Brass Campaign Bail Pull Attached with CA Glue
Use Straight Edge and Clamps to Keep Hardware Lined Up

Apply pressure for 15-20 seconds while it sets. Continue until all hardware is attached. 

Pressure to Hardware

Coupon Code For D. Lawless Hardware

D. Lawless Hardware is offering House Becoming Home & The Created Home readers 10% off their hardware purchase. Use coupon code: tch10

Attach Drawer Faces

I waited 24 hours so that the glue on the drawer pulls had a chance to fully cure, then I attached the drawer faces to the drawers.

Clamp Drawer front to Attach
Countersink Holes to Attach Drawer Fronts Bookcase

Using old playing cards as spacers, I set the drawer face in place, then secured it with clamps to the drawer. I then attached the drawer face with countersunk screws from inside the drawer.

Drawer Front Attached
Countersink Holes to Attach Drawer Fronts

Protect With Finish

I wanted to keep this maple bookcase as natural as possible, so I brushed on several coats of General Finishes water-based flat top coat.

Add Drawer Divider Holders + Dividers

Cut a strip of drawer divider holders in half, then stick inside a drawer at the front and back. Repeat for all drawers, then cut dividers from 1/4″ plywood.

Add Rockler Dividers
Add Rockler Dividers to Bookcase Drawers

Attach to Wall

Your catalog bookcase is done, but don’t forget to securely attach it to the wall! Fix the bookcase to the studs in the wall with screws through the nailers at the back. 

 

Finished Catalog Bookcase

Maple Bookcase with Campaign Bail Pulls
Make a Catalog Bookcase
Bookcase with Pull Out Drawers
Modern DIY Furniture Plans
Pull Out Book Drawer

I’d love to hear what you think of the catalog bookcase. If you’re interested in building one for yourself, be sure to check out the printable pdf plans available on Sarah’s website, and use coupon code tch10 at D. Lawless Hardware to save 10% on the campaign brass pulls. 

Rockler Dividers for Bookcase Drawers

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