Recycle with a purpose

I found this neat article in the Winnipeg Free Press

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Unused books make a great shelf

Finding unique items for the décor can be difficult. You may luck out and happen upon a cool salvage find at a yard sale or perhaps a cool retro dining table at an antique store but these treasures are few and far between. Sometimes, in order to create that one-of-a-kind look that you desire, you have to make these special items yourself.

You've seen them, medicine cabinets made from old, hard-sided trunks or a love seat made out of a claw-foot tub. Cool stuff like that can bring your décor to a whole new level.

I've wanted to make this unique bookshelf that I had seen in a magazine a while back and finally made the effort to purchase the hardware that I would need. This 'book' shelf is a floating shelf made from an actual hardcover book. I happen to have an old encyclopedia set that I needed to either toss or re-purpose. Sadly, with the internet, encyclopedias are now defunct; especially old ones so I didn't have the option of donating them. I hated to just toss them into the landfill so I decided to make a few of these unique bookshelves for myself and as possible gifts.

A shelf (or set of shelves) like this can look amazing in the bedroom, kitchen (cookbooks), a craft or sewing room, the cottage, a child's room/nursery or a den. Being able to display your books in a unique way helps keep the clutter down in drawers and tabletops while adding that special touch to the room.

The book used for the actual shelf will be ruined so scout out the thrift stores for an inexpensive but interesting looking hardcover book(s). The book should not be too thick and heavy and should be no more than around nine by nine inches. Choose a book theme that will be appropriate for the intended room. (A cookbook for the kitchen, for example.)


Here's what you'll need to start:

One hardcover book

One 4 to 6 inch outside mount corner bracket. (L-shaped) The finish doesn't matter as it will be hidden.

2 dry-wall type screws with flat tops that can be counter sunk into the bracket opening. (The screw length should be less than the thickness of the book.)

Wood glue

Small hand clamps

Hand drill with screwdriver bit

Utility knife



In order for the bracket to lie flat inside the book you much cut out the area in which the bracket will sit. Lay the bracket in the center of the inside back page of the book then trace around it. Cut out the area with a sharp knife until the bracket sits flush. (See photo #1) If you want to use a larger book, you'll need to install two brackets rather than one.

When the book is closed the bracket will hit the overhang of the front cover so cut out a small strip of the front cover until the bracket sits flush against the edge of the book. (See photo #2)

Turn the book on its front and lift the back cover. Clamp the open section around the area where the bracket will sit. This will help keep the pages from bowing when you're screwing in the bracket. Slowly insert the two screws trying to keep the pages as flat as possible. If need be, you can unscrew and reset it until you're satisfied with the finish. (See photo #3)

Now cover the inside back cover and facing page of the book with wood glue and clamp the book on three sides so it will dry as flat as possible.

Leave overnight to dry.

Install the shelf onto a stud in your intended room and place four or five books of equal or lesser size onto the shelf. You can also use the bookshelf to display accessories. Voila! You're done!

If you want to create a shelf without damaging the actual book then you'd have to use two L brackets on which the base book will simply sit. The brackets will be seen, however, so use decorative brackets for a finished look.

By: Connie Oliver/Room for change (Free Press) - Recycle with a purpose posted on January 18, 2014

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