Little Free Library

I don't know if you’re like me, but I still enjoy reading real books. Yes, the e-readers are pretty cool, but there are actually some good reasons why reading a "real" book is beneficial.

-No Batteries required
-That wonderful book smell
-Endless recycling
-No wifi needed
-No recharging

And it's has been proven that reading an actual book promotes deep reading. Nicholas Carr’s bestseller The Shallows (2011) centers on this point; deep reading just doesn’t work with social media, ebooks, or most anything online. Ebooks permit too many distractions, use smaller pages, and reduce physical interactivity, making it hard if not impossible for regular readers to engage in deep reading.

I'm a creative soul, always open to any kind of artistic expression, be it building something, creating art out of recycled material, or up-cycling vintage pieces of furniture that were ready for the local transfer station. My recent motto is minimalism, mindfulness, community, creative expression, continual learning and most of all kindness.

That brings me to my latest project which, like most of my projects, took on a life of its own. A few weeks ago a friend of mine offered up a few hard back fiction books on Facebook. I immediately zeroed in on a book that I just had to read. Something about the cover, the title, the escape that was awaiting me. Much to my surprise quite a few other people expressed interest in reading these beautiful books. Oooh, I wasn't alone in my love of "real" books.

 

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That got me to thinking I have a lot of books that I have hung onto for far too long; I read all of them long ago, and almost all of them are bestsellers from a few years back. Why not offer them up in a fun way and rejuvenate the tried and true alternative to the internet and social media? I thought, “How cool would it to be to create a Little Free Library?” I see them all over the place, especially while on vacation, and there's nothing worse than being on vacation and not having anything decent to read on the beach. I have also seen them around town and thought "what an awesome idea." So fun to see all of the different ideas , colors etc... And, the pièce de résistance, what a great gateway to bring the community together in a sweet and simple gesture.

So now, how I got started on creating and constructing my very own Little Free Library.

I'm always knee deep in scrap wood from various projects and on most days I have some sort of project in the works. Thank goodness I have a patient other half. It also is a bonus that he has amazing wood working skills.

My goal was to build this LFL spending as little money as possible. It really motivates one to problem solve when using recycled materials. The first step for this project was to build the basic box with the largest pieces of plywood going toward the base, sides and top of the box. We decided on a slanted roof to be sure that that it could withstand our varying seasons i.e. spring rain, hot summers and snowy winters that we are accustomed to here in New England. After selecting the largest pieces of plywood we had on hand, I drafted a basic lean-to design on a relative scale to accommodate various sizes of books. Todd (my husband), cut the pieces of plywood using our table saw for the sides and a chop saw for length. We then assembled our box using a nuematic air nailer.

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I decided that because it was going to be a LFL, it should be red. I sanded the exterior and edges of the box with an oscillating hand sander then painted the outside of the box with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Burgundy; I chose to paint the inside with a wash (water and paint mixture) of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint In Graphite. What better way to insure no water will be leaking in to my Little Library than to us some left over roofing shingles we had from a few years back. If it's good enough for our house it's good enough for the Library.

Once the box was finished we sat back and discussed options for the door. Should it be two small doors opening from the center or one larger door with a window to see the books that are in the box? I am always looking for the easiest and most efficient way to make a project come to life. We concluded that it would be much easier to make one door, but joining the mitered edges would be a bit challenging. Remember we used old warped scrap wood, so we had to be ready for the unexpected. We decided take the safe route and purchased a new 5/8 inch 2 ft x 2 ft piece of plywood to the ensure some consistency in the functionality of the door. We measured and cut the exterior of the door to the desired size, then cut a smaller rectangle frame out of the center to create a window of sorts. I painted the door in Annie Sloan Pure White. I then found an old wooden picture frame that I had in storage just collecting dust. It measured 11" x 14" which amazingly fit the opening we cut out of the door, but honestly this was purely a happy accident. I removed the back of the frame and the glass and painted the frame in Graphite. I glued the piece of glass into the frame with hot glue then nailed the picture frame to the door where the opening was cut out. We bought two small silver galvanized hinges to attach the door to the box. It lifts open from the bottom up.

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The next step was to figure out how to put the box on a post so it could be free standing. We bought a 6 ft, 4 x 4 piece of pressure treated wood for the post and a metal stake that we could bury into the ground that the 4 x 4 would fit into. We cut the post to approximately 4 ft in length. We then attached a piece of plywood to the bottom of the box for extra support and braced it to the 4 x 4 with two pieces of 2 x 4 pressure treated wood cut to the desired length and on a miter to form a v from the bottom of box to the post. I painted the post with Graphite to match the roof, frame for the door, and the inside of the book box.

The Little Library was really beginning to take shape, but it still needed a bit more pizazz. I used some scrap pieces of pallet wood to create a kind of "Key West" inspired sign post with the words Little Free Library, Welcome, Take a book, Leave a book, and Enjoy reading to main post. The pallet boards were cut to odd lengths with the chop saw to add a bit of character to the signage. I used Graphite and Old White with a dry brush technique to create a weathered look to the signs.

For paint, I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Burgundy, Pure White, Old White and Graphite. Hand lettering was done with black acrylic paint. 2 coats of a satin finish, Polyurethane spray sealed the entire structure to ensure it will withstand many years of enjoyment for all.
This is an overview of the inspiration and construction of my Little Free Library and is not full DIY instructions, although please let me know if you have any questions about this project. And as we go through our day, remember minimalism, mindfulness, community, creative expression, continual learning and most of all kindness. 

Barstool Quick Flip

We wanted some seating for our workshops, and thought a stool would be the best option so customers could easily stand up or sit down. We scoured online and saw some beautiful options, but many were out of our budget. That’s when good ol’ Harbor Freight came through. The swivel stools were sturdy and the perfect height for our workshop table. The problem: the flamed vinyl seats didn’t match the décor of the shop. 

No problem for our Artisans though. We went to Joanne’s and picked up duck cloth fabric on sale, and decided to mix up our textures with a home decorator fabric we had left over from a project at home. Fortunately for us the seats had a plywood base, so all we had to do was follow the circular seats and cut a circle out of the fabric. We used the Ryobi 18 Gauge Airstrike Staple Gun and began tugging and pulling the fabric as we worked our way around the circle, creating small smooth pleats as we went. After we finished stapling all around the stool, we cut away all excess fabric, and attached the seat to the stool. We are ecstatic about the transformation! Stay tuned for our next quick flip.

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Farmhouse Table

As Artisans Collective continues to grow, so has the need for table space during classes. After researching farmhouse table and kitchen island plans, we chose to design our own farmhouse island height table that measures 96” x 48” x 36”.

Stability is key when designing a sturdy but comfortable farmhouse shop table. Our design choices include a hard New England wood, (Ash) for the table skirt and base, and farmhouse style island legs.  We purchased 5/4 lumber and had it properly planed on all 4 sides to a solid and true 1” thickness at our lumber supplier. Costs can be reduced by using less expensive island legs and lumber, but we love both the design appeal and stability of our plan.

 
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The round holes are where to pre-drill for wood screws, and the ovals are where pocket holes were pre-drilled.

The round holes are where to pre-drill for wood screws, and the ovals are where pocket holes were pre-drilled.

Cut List

(6) 34 ½”  x 4” Atlanta Island Post Legs $43.56 each (Osborne Wood Products, Inc.)

Ash Table Skirt - 6” Wide, 1” Thick

(2) 92” -  ½” dado trim 4” on both ends, dado trim 4” from center (44” -  48”)

(2) 44” -  ½” dado trim away 3 ½” on both ends

Ash Base Skirt 3” Wide 1” Thick

(2) 38”

(2) 92”

1x4 Common Board

(1) 39”

1X2 Common Board

(3) 90”

(4) 43”

(1) 37 ¼”

(4) 14” Brackets 45 degree Angle on each corner

Scrap wood for the bottom shelf

(2) 4’ x 8’ MDF ¾”  

(2) 2” Trim  (2) 8’4” and (2) 4’4” Custom fit with mitered corners.

 

Tool List

Ryobi 10 in. Portable Table Saw with Quick Stand

Ryobi 18V ONE+™ 18GA CORDLESS BRAD NAILER

Freud 6" Pro Dado Set (SD206)

Ryobi One+ 18V Lithium Ion 1/2" Drill Driver P208B

Ryobi 18V ONE+™ 5 IN. RANDOM ORBIT SANDER

Kreg Jig K4 Pocket Hole System

Ryobi Drill and Drive Kit (60-Piece)

Kreg Pocket-Hole Screws 1 ¼” Fine-Thread for use with Hardwoods

18 Everbilt Wood Screws - 2 ½” Flat Head Phillips

GripRite Drywall Coarse Thread Screws 1”

GripRite Drywall Coarse Thread Screws 1½

DeWalt Brad Nails 1 ¼”

Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue

DAP Plastic Wood-X All Purpose Wood Filler

QUICK GRIP BAR CLAMPS

FINISH:

ANNIE SLOAN Chalk Paint:

  Paris Grey

  Graphite

  Country Grey

  Annie Sloan Black Wax

McCloskey Man O’War - Spar Varnish

Zisser Bulls Eye Clear Shellac

 

Why Inset with a Dado Blade?

We opted to use a Dado blade and inset the table skirting into the legs. This balances the load and gives the table greater strength. We took out half an inch from the table legs and the boards to have them lay flush. If you prefer to skip the Dado blade effort, then modify the table skirt cut list and attach wood by drilling pocket holes and use Kreg pocket hole screws.

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Carefully plan and mark measurements on all table skirting and legs before you begin cutting away material. Follow the lay out plan below and mark the inside and outside placement on each leg and board. Taking a few minutes to measure and mock up material will prevent mistakes and expedite the process at the table saw.

Dado Blades and Leg Cuts

We looked at our Ryobi manual to find the correct throat plate for a dado blade. There are several sections on a dado blade, so the throat plate needs to be wider than the regular throat plate size. The new plate arrived in a few days and we were ready to go! It is not difficult to change the blade, just make certain to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for stacking your Dado Blades onto your table saw. Pay attention to staggering the blades so they properly chip away wood from the board or table legs. Once your blades are set, change out the throat plate. Set the Dado blade to ½” depth and test using scrap lumber to ensure the depth is accurate.

Prepare the top of the leg posts with cuts facing the outside of the table frame.

Set the rip fence to 4”, run the top of the leg through the Dado blade, and continue to carefully run the leg through the dado blade until the 4 inches of wood is chipped away. Turning the leg, repeat the process, again, starting 4” from the top of the leg and chip away ½” of material until 4” of the wood is removed.  Cut two outward facing sides on the top of 4 corner posts and the outward side of the 2 middle posts. The mitre gauge can help steady the leg as it is pushed through the Dado blade.

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Reminder, 4 corner posts and 2 middle posts have now been defined. The next step is to cut the bottom of the leg posts and bottom cuts face the inside of the table.  Be careful to ensure your legs are correctly marked when you take them to the saw.

Prepare the bottom of the leg posts with cuts facing the inside of the table frame.

Measure from the edge of your dado blade to the rip fence to ensure the proper length of the cut. Set the rip fence to 2” and run the bottom of through the Dado blade. Now set the rip fence to 5” and run the leg through the dado blade.  After the two cuts are made, clear away the remaining wood from between the two cuts.

You may be able to request table legs be precut to accommodate your table build, but honestly, purchasing a decent Dado Blade set will allow you to take on many projects in the future. Spend the money on the tools and watch your abilities and projects grow leaps and bounds!

For the Table Skirt

Cut all of your boards to length according to the cut list.

For the Table Skirt: Make channel cuts on the 6” wide boards with the Dado blade.

Start by setting the rip fence at 4” and take the 92” boards and clear away the first 4” on each end.

The center of the 92” boards also needs a ½” channel. From one end, measure and mark a line at 44” and then a line at 48”.  Mark the board so you can clearly see the lines and slowly chip away between the 44” - 48”.  Use the mitre gauge and a block of wood on the other side to keep the board straight as you push your wood through the Dado blade.

Finally, set the rip fence at 3 ½” to cut the 44” boards.

Once the wood is cut, take the time to pre-drill and make pocket holes so assembly is a snap. Follow the board guide for pre-drilling all pocket holes. The pocket holes are key for assembling the bottom railing and for attaching the table top.

Assembly

When going to assemble your table, start off by dry fitting the pieces together to ensure the pieces sit properly. Lay 2 end posts and 1 middle post onto the floor, so the outside of the leg is facing up. Place the 92” board across the posts, pre-drill and counter sink the holes, and attach using 3” wood screws. For increased stability, you should use wood glue. Flip the 3 posts over so the inside of the legs are facing up, and repeat the process with the 90" board that runs along the bottom of the table.  

Repeat the process with the other 3 legs. 

Once the two halves are done, it's time to stand the structure up! Set up the two halves and dry fit the remaining top skirt, and screw them in. For the bottom skirt we pocket holed the pieces and screwed them in. 

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For the bottom shelving, add 1x2 railing to both 90" boards along the bottom. To secure them we used what we had lying around, so we ended up with 1½" drywall screws. Finally, to ensure the shelves won't warp in the center, attach one more 90" 1x2 railing with pocket holes and Kreg pocket-hole screws 1 ¼” fine-thread for use with Hardwoods.

With 1x2 common board, insert (4) 43" crossbeams along the top skirt, and (1) 37 ¼” crossbeam in between the two center posts.  Finally, insert (4) 14” brackets on a 45 degree angle for each corner. 

For the top we glued together (2) 4’ x 8’ MDF ¾” boards and clamped them. We also drove about 40 GripRite 1" Drywall Coarse Thread Screws to make sure the top was completely secure. 

With our super sturdy MDF top all ready, we lifted and centered the top onto the base, and secured it using the pocket holes we pre-drilled along the top-skirt and crossbeams and 1¼" Kreg Jig Screws for hardwoods. To hide the edges of the MDF attach 2” trim, custom fit with mitered corners, with DeWalt Brad Nails 1 ¼”.

Finishing Our Farmhouse Table

We painted the base of our table with Paris Grey Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, and sealed it with Annie Sloan Black Wax. For the shelves underneath we actually used some laminate flooring we had laying around. We cut it to the appropriate size and sprayed it with a metallic paint to give it an industrial feel. 

For the top we sealed the MDF with two layers of Zisser Bulls Eye Clear Shellac so that the MDF didn't soak in too much paint. After, we painted two coats of Country Grey Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Olivia cut out a giant 36" stencil of our Artisan's Collective logo, and Morgan stenciled and cleaned up the edges of the logo onto the table. We painted the trim with Graphite Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. 

To seal the table we wanted a really tough, durable finish, so we opted for McCloskey Man O’War Spar Varnish. As a warning, spar varnish has an intense odor, so making sure there is proper ventilation is key. It takes three coats of varnish, and in between each coat use 1000 grit sandpaper to level the varnish and ensure a smooth seal. 

Our farmhouse table is a great new anchor for our shop; it makes the workshop space feel like home. It opened up the possibilities of the types of workshops we could offer for our customers, and gave us the the ability to do bigger, better projects! Be on the lookout over the next few weeks as we keep painting, living, and loving the life we're in. 

 

 

Light Fixture Revamp

Recently, a customer came into the shop looking for advice about an outdated light fixture in her kitchen. She had updated the space to achieve a more natural feel, and the look of the gold fixture against her beautiful black granite countertops didn’t match the color scheme of the space.

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Right away we knew the solution! Rust-Oleum Metallic Spray Paint (in oil rubbed bronze) would totally change the look of the light and give it a more modern and industrial feel!

Using painter’s tape, we covered the electrical components of the fixture, then proceeded to spray light coats of the paint. By doing several light layers we prevent the paint from dripping and looking uneven.

We finished the lamp by using small bits of Annie Sloan Gilding Wax. Just remember a little goes a long way with the gilding wax. Find sections of your piece to highlight, then apply the wax where you want with a finger or small brush, and rub it in with a paper towel.

We loved how the Annie Sloan Gilding Wax reflected the light off of the Rust-Oleum Metallic Spray Paint!   Our customer was thrilled and we are now off to find another project.