With my daughter fresh out of college and starting her new career as an elementary school teacher or is it educator? I don’t know, either way, you had to know it was only a matter of time before we tackled a bookshelf project. Right?! And, that we did!
This weekend while shopping at our local Habitat for Humanity we picked up an old wooden electric spool for $10. It was a smaller spool and perfect for our bookshelf project. (Side note: Never miss an opportunity to grab an old wooden spool. No matter the size, these things can be used to make coffee tables, end tables, any tables really, wall art, clocks, just about anything.) We paid for this one in order to have ours immediately and the money goes to a good cause at HFH, but as I’ve mentioned before, you can often get spools for free at electric companies, hardware stores, etc. Lowe’s in fact has them for free, but you sometimes have to put your name on a list and wait for your turn and availability. Still worth it!
Now, back to the project… We started by removing any loose staples and sanding down rough edges. We sanded a little more than normal sense this was going to be used by children and we wanted to avoid splinter issues. For this we used an electric palm sander.
The most difficult part of this project was adding a shelf. It wasn’t necessary, but we felt it was too large without one and would leave too much wasted space if we didn’t opt for the shelf. You may not find this necessary if you have a smaller spool or larger books!
To add the shelf, we set the spool on top of some scrap 1/2 inch plywood, traced a circle around the outer edge and then used a jigsaw to cut it out. For the inner circle, we took the largest distance from the center to the outer edge of the spool (nothing is ever even on these things) and using a marker held at that distance on the tape measure and the other end hooked to the outer edge of the spool as a guide drew our circle, which was also cut out by the jigsaw. The shelf board was later cut in half to avoid taking the spool apart to attach.
Next, we took a rope and ran it around the outer edge of the spool and then measured the length of the rope to determine the circumference of the spool, we subtracted 2″ and divided by 10; the number of dividers we wanted. (We bought 5 dowel rods for $2.28 each at Lowe’s and cut them in half.) OUR number came out to 11.25″. So, every 11.25″ we marked a spot 2″ from the edge of the spool, yours will be different (A tape measure works great for this, as it’s flexible enough to curve around the edge.) Then we drilled 5/8″ holes at every mark, the size of the dowel rods we were using. We started with the shelf first, because we later used the shelf piece as a template to mark the holes on the top and the bottom of the spool. (Note: The bottom holes were only drilled halfway down, just enough to hold the rods in place.)
After all the holes were drilled, we made sure all the dowels fit. Then we removed the rods to attach the shelf. To attach the shelf we used 6X10″ L-brackets (We found these at Walmart for .84 cents each.)These will add extra support for your books later. Be careful to keep your holes aligned when attaching the shelf. We then ran the dowels through the top and the middle shelf, and anchored them into the bottom holes, all the way around. We applied wood glue, to the top, middle and bottom of the dowels. We also applied a wood glue and saw dust mixture (You could also use wood filler.) to the areas where the shelf was cut and put back together, to keep these areas as seamless as possible.
After the glue dried, we used the palm sander again to smooth down the entire surface. At this point we added four 4″ heavy duty casters (Purchased from O’Reilly’s). Weight-wise each caster could probably hold 250 lbs., this size was not needed for weight, we wanted the larger chunky wheels purely for looks.
When the bookshelf was complete we painted it with white chalk paint (See our recipe for homemade chalk paint here!) After the paint dried we used the palm sander once more to heavily distress the piece, used a damp cloth to wipe off all the dust and sealed with a clear varnish.
The casters were the most expensive part of this project. They can range anywhere from $5-15 each depending on size and where you get them (Lowe’s, Walmart, online, etc.). So, if you have an old unused shelf or tool box sitting around with wheels I would suggest you reuse them and save the $. Casters are another thing you should always grab at auctions or garage sales if you see them!
Now go make yourself a cute little 360 degree bookshelf for your class, your child’s room or heck this would even be fun to have in your living room as an end table or coffee table. The possibilities are endless.
Happy repurposing people!