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
-No wifi needed
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.
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.
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.
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.