Hey there, bookworms and DIY enthusiasts! Do you love reading but hate the idea of going to the library or bookstore? Or maybe you just want to share your love of books with your community? Well, have we got the project for you!
Introducing the Little Free Library! It’s a small wooden box that you can fill with books and place on public property. Anyone passing by can take a book or leave a book, promoting literacy and sharing the love of reading. But wait, before you get too excited, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: cost.
Yes, building a Little Free Library can be expensive, and we’re not talking about just the books! But fear not, my frugal friends, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll be showing you how to build your very own Little Free Library for under $100.
So, let’s dive right in and see what you’ll need for this awesome project.
- Wood (2x4s, plywood, or repurposed materials)
- Additional hardware (such as a door handle or latch)
- Saw (circular or jigsaw)
- Measuring tape
- Height: 16-20 inches
- Width: 16-20 inches
- Depth: 12-16 inches
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s talk design. There are two options we’ll cover in this article: the classic Little Free Library design and a repurposed cabinet or chest of drawers.
So, grab your coffee and let’s get building! Or tea, we don’t discriminate here.
Alright, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what materials you’ll need to make your very own Little Free Library. We’ll do our best to keep costs down and not break the bank, because who needs to spend a fortune on a small wooden box, am I right?
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Wood: We recommend 2x4s, plywood, or even repurposed materials if you have them lying around. Just make sure the wood is sturdy enough to hold books and withstand the elements.
- Screws: You’ll need screws to hold everything together. Opt for wood screws as they’re designed to hold wood together and will be the most reliable.
- Hinges: You’ll need hinges for the door of the Little Free Library. We recommend two hinges to keep the door secure.
- Plexiglass: This will be used for the door window. It’s more durable than glass and won’t shatter if accidentally knocked over.
- Additional hardware: Depending on your design, you may need a door handle or latch to keep the door shut. You can get creative with this and use whatever you have lying around.
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the tools. We’ll cover those in the next section.
Now, let’s talk cost. We know you’re here because you’re trying to save money, so we’ve done our best to estimate the costs for each item:
- Wood: $30-$50
- Screws: $5-$10
- Hinges: $5-$10
- Plexiglass: $15-$20
- Additional hardware: $5-$10
Not bad, right? You can even try and save more by repurposing old wood and hardware you may have lying around. But remember, quality materials will ensure your Little Free Library lasts longer and holds up against the elements.
Alright, now that we’ve got the materials out of the way, let’s move on to the fun part: tools!
Tools can be expensive, am I right? But fear not, we’re not going to suggest you go out and buy all the fancy equipment. We’re keeping it simple and affordable.
Here are the suggested tools for this project:
- Saw: A saw is essential for cutting the wood to the correct size. You can use either a circular saw or a jigsaw. If you don’t have one lying around, check out local hardware stores or see if you can borrow one from a friend.
- Drill: A drill will make your life easier when it comes to attaching the hinges and other hardware. Again, if you don’t have one, see if you can borrow one or check out local hardware stores.
- Screwdriver: You’ll need a screwdriver to screw in the screws (duh).
- Measuring tape: You’ll need to measure the wood to the correct size, so a measuring tape is crucial.
- Sandpaper: After cutting the wood, you’ll want to sand down the edges to make sure everything is smooth and splinter-free.
That’s it! We’re keeping it simple and affordable. If you don’t have any of these tools, don’t worry. You can always ask around or see if your local library has a tool lending program.
Now, we know you’re eager to get started on building your Little Free Library, but before we move on to the next section, let’s talk about safety. Make sure you’re wearing appropriate clothing (closed-toe shoes, long pants) and eye protection when using power tools. And always be careful when handling sharp objects like saws and drills.
Alright, now that we’ve covered the tools and safety, let’s move on to the dimensions of your Little Free Library.
Before you start cutting your wood, it’s important to have a plan for the dimensions of your Little Free Library. You don’t want to end up with a wonky looking structure, do you?
Here are the dimensions we recommend for your Little Free Library:
- Height: We suggest a height of around 2 feet. This will allow for plenty of space for books, without taking up too much room on the street.
- Width: A width of around 1.5 feet will give you enough space for books, without making the library too bulky.
- Depth: We recommend a depth of around 1 foot. This will give enough space for a few rows of books and make it easier for people to reach in and grab a book.
Now, these dimensions are just a suggestion. You can adjust them as necessary to fit your space or the materials you have available. Just make sure the proportions still look pleasing to the eye.
Pro tip: Before you start cutting your wood, draw out the dimensions on a piece of paper or use a 3D modeling program to make sure you’re happy with the overall look of your Little Free Library.
Alright, now that you’ve got your dimensions sorted, it’s time to talk about the design of your Little Free Library. We’ve got two options for you to choose from, so keep reading to find out which one suits you best.
Design Option 1: Classic Little Free Library
If you’re a fan of the classic look of a Little Free Library, then this design is for you. It’s the quintessential look that we’ve all come to know and love.
Here’s what you’ll need for this design:
- Sloped Roof: A sloped roof is a must-have for the classic Little Free Library design. It gives the library that cute, cozy look that we all adore.
- Glass Door: To make it easy for people to browse the books inside, we recommend using a glass door. This will also help protect the books from the elements.
- Wooden Sides and Base: To keep the classic look going, you’ll want to use wood for the sides and base of your Little Free Library.
Here are some tips for building your classic Little Free Library:
- Cut the Wood to Size: Use your saw to cut the wood to the dimensions you decided on in the previous section.
- Assemble the Sides and Base: Using your screws and drill, assemble the sides and base of your Little Free Library.
- Attach the Roof: Cut your roof to size and attach it to the top of your Little Free Library.
- Add the Glass Door: Cut a piece of plexiglass to size and attach it to the front of your Little Free Library using hinges.
Pro tip: If you want to get really fancy, you can add some decorative touches to your Little Free Library, like a little birdhouse on the roof or some cute decals on the side.
Once you’ve got your classic Little Free Library built, it’s time to weatherproof it. Keep reading to find out how to make sure your library will last through rain, snow, and even those pesky squirrels.
Design Option 2: Repurposed Cabinet or Chest of Drawers
If you’re feeling a bit more creative and want to upcycle something you already have, then this design option is for you. You can turn an old cabinet or chest of drawers into a unique Little Free Library that will stand out in any neighborhood.
Here’s what you’ll need for this design:
- Cabinet or Chest of Drawers: Find an old cabinet or chest of drawers that you no longer need or want. Look for one with sturdy construction and enough space to store a good number of books.
- Paint or Stain: If you want to give your repurposed Little Free Library a fresh look, consider painting or staining it.
- Shelves or Dividers: Depending on the layout of your cabinet or chest of drawers, you may need to add some shelves or dividers to create more book storage space.
Here are some tips for building your repurposed Little Free Library:
- Clean and Prep the Cabinet: Remove any drawers or shelves from your cabinet and clean it thoroughly. Sand any rough spots or scratches and fill in any holes with wood filler.
- Paint or Stain the Cabinet: If you want to change the look of your cabinet, now is the time to do it. Apply your paint or stain according to the manufacturer’s instructions and let it dry completely.
- Add Shelves or Dividers: If you need more book storage space, now is the time to add some shelves or dividers. Use your saw to cut some pieces of wood to size and attach them to the inside of the cabinet.
- Attach a Roof and Door: To protect your books from the elements, attach a roof and door to your repurposed Little Free Library. You can use the same materials and methods as outlined in the previous section for the classic Little Free Library design.
Pro tip: Get creative with your repurposed Little Free Library design. You can add some decorative touches, like painting book spines on the outside of the cabinet or adding some fun knobs or handles to the door.
Now that your repurposed Little Free Library is built and looking great, it’s time to weatherproof it. Keep reading for some tips on how to make sure your library can withstand the elements.
Let’s face it – we live in a world of extreme weather. One day it’s scorching hot and the next day it’s pouring rain. Your Little Free Library needs to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at it. Luckily, there are several weatherproofing options to choose from. Here are some popular choices:
- A sealant is a protective coating that is applied to the wood to prevent moisture from penetrating it.
- You can choose between a clear or colored sealant, depending on your preference.
- Make sure to apply a few coats and let it dry completely before putting your books inside.
- Painting your Little Free Library not only makes it look pretty, but it also protects it from the elements.
- Choose a high-quality outdoor paint that is resistant to moisture and fading.
- You can get creative with the color and design of your paint job, but keep in mind that darker colors absorb more heat, which can cause warping or cracking.
- A varnish is similar to a sealant in that it creates a protective barrier on the wood.
- However, varnish is a bit more durable and long-lasting than sealant.
- It also comes in clear or colored options and should be applied in a few coats with ample drying time in between.
- If you don’t want to mess with applying coatings to your Little Free Library, you can always opt for a waterproof cover.
- There are many covers on the market that are specifically designed to fit over Little Free Libraries.
- They come in various sizes, so make sure to measure your library before purchasing.
No matter which option you choose, remember to periodically check your Little Free Library for any signs of damage or wear and tear. If you notice any issues, be sure to address them promptly to prevent further damage.
So you’ve built your awesome Little Free Library, and now it’s time to get it installed! Here are some tips on how to get your library up and running:
Choosing a Location
First, you need to decide where to put your Little Free Library. Here are some things to consider:
- Choose a location with good foot traffic. Your library won’t do much good if nobody sees it!
- Make sure the location is visible and well-lit.
- Check with your local government or homeowner’s association to make sure you’re allowed to place a structure on public property.
- Consider the weather patterns in your area – you don’t want your books to get soaked in the rain or baked in the sun.
Once you have your location picked out, you’ll need to decide how to mount your library. Here are some options:
- Post: A sturdy post is a classic choice for mounting your Little Free Library. Dig a hole, set the post in concrete, and attach the library to the post with screws. This option will give you a secure and stable installation.
- Platform: If you don’t want to dig a hole, you can use a platform instead. Attach the platform to a flat surface (like a patio or porch) and then attach the library to the platform. This option is less secure than a post, but it’s still a good choice if you can’t dig.
- Other creative options: Some people have mounted their libraries on tree stumps, old mailboxes, or even bicycles! If you’re feeling adventurous, there are lots of creative options out there.
Installing Your Little Free Library
Once you’ve chosen your location and mounting option, it’s time to install your library! Here’s how:
- Position your library where you want it.
- Use a level to make sure the library is straight.
- Attach the library to the post, platform, or other mounting option using screws.
- Check to make sure the library is secure and stable.
- Fill your library with books and let the neighborhood know about it!
Spread the Word
Don’t forget to promote your Little Free Library! Here are some ideas:
- Post about it on social media.
- Tell your friends and neighbors.
- Leave flyers at local coffee shops, schools, and libraries.
- Host a grand opening and invite the neighborhood to come and check out the books.
Congratulations on building your very own Little Free Library! Your community will thank you for it.
Maintaining and Promoting the Library
Congratulations! You’ve built your very own Little Free Library and installed it in a public space for all to enjoy. Now, you may be wondering how to keep it in tip-top shape and make sure that people are using it. Here are some tips to help you maintain and promote your little literary haven:
Keep It Stocked
The whole point of a Little Free Library is to share books with your community. It’s important to make sure that your library is always stocked with a variety of books for all ages and interests. Consider organizing a book drive or reaching out to local bookstores and libraries for donations. Don’t forget to rotate the books every so often to keep things fresh.
Check It Regularly
Make it a habit to check on your Little Free Library regularly, at least once a week. Check for any damage or wear and tear, and make any necessary repairs. Also, keep an eye on the books inside. Are they in good condition? Are they appropriate for all ages? If not, remove them and replace them with something more suitable.
Spread the word about your Little Free Library! Share it on social media, create a website or blog for it, and hang flyers in the surrounding area. Make sure people know where it is and how to use it. Consider hosting a grand opening party to celebrate its installation.
Be a Good Neighbor
Your Little Free Library is on public property, so it’s important to be a good neighbor to those around you. Make sure your library is not blocking any sidewalks or obstructing any views. Keep the area around the library clean and tidy. And remember, not everyone may share your enthusiasm for books. Be respectful of those who may not be interested and keep noise levels down.
Join the Little Free Library Network
Finally, consider joining the Little Free Library network. This is a global organization that supports Little Free Library stewards by providing resources, information, and a network of fellow book-lovers. You can register your library on their website and connect with other stewards in your area.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your Little Free Library is a beloved fixture in your community for years to come. Happy reading!
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of this guide on how to build your very own Little Free Library. You should be feeling proud of yourself for taking on such a fun and fulfilling project, and for potentially sharing your love of books with your community.
In conclusion, let’s summarize what you’ve learned:
- Little Free Libraries are small, outdoor structures designed to house books that anyone can borrow or take for free.
- Building a Little Free Library is a budget-friendly project that can cost as little as $100, and there are a variety of design options to choose from.
- Required materials for building a Little Free Library include wood, screws, hinges, plexiglass, and roofing materials (depending on your design).
- Suggested tools include a saw, drill, screwdriver, measuring tape, and level.
- Classic Little Free Libraries typically have a sloped roof and a glass door, while repurposed cabinets or chests of drawers can make for creative and unique designs.
- Weatherproofing options include sealant, paint, and roofing materials to ensure your Little Free Library can withstand the elements.
- Installation instructions include finding a sturdy post or foundation for mounting the library, and anchoring it firmly in place.
- To maintain and promote your Little Free Library, regularly check and restock the books, advertise on social media, and consider hosting events such as book swaps or author readings.
We hope you’ve found this guide helpful and inspiring, and we can’t wait to see what amazing Little Free Libraries you create! Remember to have fun and get creative, and most importantly, keep reading!