More Little Free Libraries

A while ago a friend asked for a new little free library as a gift for his parents. I was happy to have the chance to create a new design and even happier to make another book box for someone’s front yard.

Little Free Library with red sides, pine trim, and clear plastic window which is here covered with protective paper

This model uses some slightly different materials from previous ones I’ve done. Specifically I used much thinner plywood (1/4” rather than 1/2”) and so as a result had to create thicker joints to help it all stay together. To do this I used 1×2 pine strapping and wood glue to frame the sides and top.

Plywood sides clamped with pine strapping.

Plywood sides clamped with pine strapping.

Clamps are awesome. You never really can have too many clamps. Had I been more clever I would have used some sacrificial blanks between the 1/2” strapping and the clamp face; it is possible to sand out clamp impressions, but it’s even easier to avoid them.

Pre-assembled library sides and shelves.

Some quarter-round helped create an inside joint to work with. These were glued on first, then reinforced with brads and penny-weight nails.

Red plywood sides with glued-up shelves.

The front is a joined frame with plexiglass for a window. This picture shows glueing the front up and using the weight of the library to keep the joints flush. You can see the strap clamp ready to cinch the frame tight underneath the library.

Half-made Library clamping up front frame

The hinges were counter-sunk to ensure a flush fit of the door.

Hinges are are aligned and fitted to the front door before any pilot holes are drilled. It’s easy to line up and place the hinges before the door is attached, although it’s always a great idea to measure twice and cut once.

Check out the shop dog.

Half-made library with shop dog in the background

A bit of cedar shingling and an outside edge finish off the roof. Copper nails help fasten the shingles to the roof. It’s ok if they buckle with wear, but they should still stay attached.

Mostly-finished little free library.

The plexiglass is screwed into the frame to secure it. It’s important to pre-drill pilot holes and to use pan-head screws when attaching the plexiglass. Otherwise the plastic will crack and break. The protective brown paper can be removed by the new owner upon delivery. Once everything is painted to preference, it’s easy to re-attach the plexiglass (because it’s designed to be removed when painting) and then apply a small bead of caulking to the outside if rain becomes an issue.

Finally, a small collar is fitted onto the bottom and centred on the base to ensure proper weighting and balance; it’s interior dimensions accept a standard 4×4 post.

If you are new to making or building, remember that it’s always easier to build to what is seen. Mistakes will almost always happen, and there are lots of creative ways to hide them as long as the finished product is plumb and justified.

A finished little free library with red plywood panels and pine trim. Plastic window covered in protective brown film.

Little Free Libraries

We’ve had some action lately building little free libraries.

The basic model is based on a typical 1/4″ or 1/2″ 4′ x 8′ piece of one-side-good plywood cut into 1′ x 4′ lengths. From there it’s easy to cut out the backs and sides to make a simple box, roof, and a shelf. Cedar shingles to finish off the roof are a nice touch, and pretty easy to apply. A simple piece of angled trim makes a nice cap rail for the roof line. As per usual, we’re grateful for our good friends Frank and Dave at Lakeshore Lumber for supplying the wood and hardware, and even going so far as to help cut the 4′ lengths.

The recent addition of two tools (a square corner-set found at ReStore and an air compressor with nailing head) make all the difference in putting this together. Seriously, the nailing head and the air compressor make this so much easier. Trying to tap the nails in while holding everything even would be a total pain. Gluing the joints before setting them also helps with stability.

The larger one measures 12″ x 19 1/2″ x 24″ and needed some extra support for the bottom; hence the width-spanning brace underneath that both adds extra rigidity to the base and creates a housing for a set-post. Some simple halved-joints made it easy to create the post housing.

Next-time additions could include dormers, skylights, lights for night-time browsing, or maybe even a Little Free Library LibraryBox…?…

Little Free Library Post Housing
Some simple halved-joints make creating a supported base and post housing a 2-for-1 double-plus.
Little Free Libraries
Two naked Little Free Libraries with open doors.