George Vondriska

Build a Little Library

George Vondriska
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  • In-depth Instruction; over 99 mins
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The Little Free Library is an amazing program, with over 100,000 registered libraries in place worldwide. The project uses less than a full sheet of plywood, and in addition to being a fun project, it’s a great way to master dado and rabbet joints.
SketchUp is a great way to develop your projects on the computer before going into your shop and cutting wood. The project overview gives you a great look at the parts required to build a library and how they relate to each other.
After rough cutting your sheet of plywood into manageable pieces, head for the table saw to finalize part dimensions. You can do the rabbet and dado joinery on a router table like I do here, or with a dado head on a table saw. Use the provided cut diagram as a map to make sure you get all of your parts from one sheet.
It’s important for the roof angle to be correct and for the front and rear pieces of the library to be identical with the same angle. There are a handful of useful tricks that will help you with the roof.
A very simple shop-made template gets you started on the door opening. A plunge cut with a jigsaw and flush trimming with a handheld router makes the opening perfect.
This project really lends itself to applying finish on the interior surfaces prior to assembly. A coat of white paint makes the interior nice and bright.
The library has one adjustable shelf, so you need a set of adjustable shelf holes. There are some tricks for accurately centering the holes on the sides.
The entire case of the library can be assembled at one time. There are a couple secrets you need to know to make this process simpler, starting with a dry fit and choosing the right glue. Then, get your glue brush and clamps ready.
The library will live outside and the door will be handled frequently, so it needs to be robust. This project uses a rabbeted half lap so it can hold the plexiglass. It’s hard to beat a half lap joint for strength since it allows for lots of glue surface.
With the library case assembled, the roof can now be completed. This involves cutting the grooves in the bottom of the roof, cutting the angles so the roof pieces meet, and cutting the roof pieces to their final dimension.
The devil’s in the details on the trim, but there are some great tricks to help you make sure it goes well. The trim does a great job of dressing up the library, and also provides accent opportunities when you paint the exterior.
Once you’ve applied a coat of paint on the door, it’s ready for hinges and plexiglass. Retainers hold the plexiglass in place, and self-closing hinges will help keep the elements out of your library. Hanging the door on the library is a little tricky thanks to those self-closing hinges, but we’ve got some tips for you.
The easiest way to set up your library is to mount it on top of a 4x4 post. The post mount makes that very simple, but be sure to check the dimensions we provide to ensure they’re compatible with the post you’re using.
Your library is ready to be open for business! Slip the post mount column over the post, drive a couple screws, and stock it full of your spare books! What a great addition to the community.
 
 
14 Lessons
1  hrs 39  mins

General

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that was started in 2009 that’s all about book sharing. Sharing is typically done via public bookcases called Little Free Libraries or Little Libraries that are located throughout many cities and neighborhoods. Add a Little Library to your community by building one yourself with the help of this class!

Materials

The library is made primarily from plywood, and the entire library will come from one 3/4″ x 4’ x 8’ sheet. You’ll use a small amount of solid wood to make the door and trim. It isn’t imperative that you use exterior plywood, as long as you do a good job of painting your library.

How It’s built

Your library comes together with dado and rabbet joinery. A router table is used in the instructional video, but the joinery can also be done on table saw. This project lends itself to applying finish before assembly, so you’ll do a little painting on the interior faces. Once you make adjustable shelf holes it’s ready to come together with exterior glue.

More Joinery

In addition to learning about dadoes and rabbets, this project will teach you how to make half lap joints or, more specifically, rabbeted half lap joints. This is the joinery used on the door. It’s very robust, which makes it great for this application, and you automatically end up with a rabbet for the plexiglass.

Getting It in Your Yard

Our approach to installing the library is to simply put a post in the ground and fasten the library to the post. The video shows you how to make the post mounting column for the library. Of course, you can also develop whatever mounting method works for your particular scenario.


FAQs

Q: Could I substitute other materials for the build?
A: Sure. Just make sure that if you use something that isn’t ¾” thick, you change dimensions where needed.

Q: I don’t have a 23/32” bit but I do have a 3/4″ bit. Can I use that?
A: Maybe. You can certainly use it for the rabbets, but do a test cut and double check the dado fit with your plywood. If the fit is sloppy, you shouldn’t use the 3/4″ bit.

Q: I miscut the roof angle on the front and rear pieces. Do I need to make those pieces over?
A: If you only missed it by a little bit you’ll be fine. Just make sure you use the exact same angle when you’re cutting the roof pieces.

Q: Could I use stain instead of paint on my library?
A: Yep, as long as it’s an exterior finish product.

Q: Could I use glass instead of plexiglass in the door?
A: Yes, but I’d have a couple concerns. Glass will weigh more than plexiglass, but the door is probably robust enough to tolerate that. More importantly, I’d be concerned about the glass breaking due to rough weather or rough handling. If you really want to use glass I suggest safety glass so no one gets hurt.

George Vondriska

George Vondriska is the Editor in Chief here at Woodworkers Guild of America and has been sharing his woodworking expertise since 1986. Apart from conducting classes at his renowned Vondriska Woodworks School, George's passion for teaching has taken him to woodworking shows nationwide and has led him to teach woodworking for prestigious organizations such as Peace Corps/Swaziland, Andersen Window, Northwest Airlines, and the Pentagon. With a wealth of published magazine articles under his belt, encompassing tool reviews and shop improvement projects, George's knowledge and skills continue to inspire woodworkers every day. To discover more about him and his school, visit georgevondriska.com.

George Vondriska

Bonus materials available after purchase

Build a Little Library Purchase this class for $39.99.