I love books. I love them so much, in fact, that I asked my husband if our wedding cake could be made to look like a stack of books. (Spoiler alert: He said yes. A really long time ago. It was a little bit epic.)
Anyway, given my love for books, it’s probably no surprise that I love book crafts, especially ones that do not take 72 hours and involve all 1,049 pages of War and Peace. Happily, this week’s project is all about the covers of the books, which you can easily liberate from the pages and upcycle into a super cool organizer for your mail, your bills, your files, or whatever else you need to keep track of. You’ll be so happy with the results you might even want to make me a cake! (Spoiler alert: I won’t stop you.)
As you can see from the pictures, I wanted an organizer for sorting mail. If you would rather sort papers and file folders, shop your local Goodwill, library sale, or flea market for tall books instead of shorties like the ones I picked.
- Used hardcover books, in whatever number and size best suit your needs
- X-Acto knife or other similar cutting device
- Drill or Crop-A-Dile
- Two long bolts (2 1/2 -3″) and corresponding nuts (you will need several nuts for each bolt), plus additional bolts as needed for stability
- Mechanical pencil (helpful but not required)
1. Open your first book. Using your X-Acto knife or similar device, carefully free the cover from the book. (Please do this without cutting the book cover or your sweet little fingers, because you know, you’d miss your fingers, and the covers look cuter when they’re intact. If you do cut a cover, however, just slap some packing tape on there. No harm, no foul.)
Repeat this process for the rest of your books.
2. Stand your book covers up next to each other on a hard, level service, arranging and rearranging them until you’re happy with the way they look. This will be the order in which you connect the books together. I will refer to the two books on the outside edges as your “outside books,” because I am creative like that.
3. Choose one of your outside books as a starting point. We’ll call it Outside Book A. Drill or punch a hole in the lower back corner of Outside Book A. (Although you can use a drill, here you can see my new Crop-A-Dile Big Bite in action as I punch my hole. Om nom nom.)
4. Now comes the ONLY part to this project that requires at least 72% of your mental energy. Make sure that the next hole you create lines up with the first hole you created. To do that, you have two options: 1) Push the bolt through the hole until it meets the next hard surface, then press and twist the bolt until you’re sure you’ve made a mark; or 2) Extend the lead on a mechanical pencil, put the lead into the hole, and make a mark. Either way, punch or drill your next hole on the mark.
Repeat this process until you have made holes in all of the lower corners, remembering to MAKE SURE ALL THE HOLES LINE UP. You can tell that’s important because I shouted it when I repeated it. (I also tap danced a little, but you couldn’t see that.)
5. To keep the books lined up, slip a bolt through the holes you just made and put a nut on the end. This is just temporary. Now go to Outside Book B and make a hole in the upper inside corner next to the spine. Make corresponding holes in all the upper corners of all the books while I keep tap dancing and shouting about how they all have to line up. Maybe this time I’ll even throw in some jazz hands.
6. Now that all of the holes are made, you can remove the bolt you put in for temporary stability, because now you need to add several more nuts to the mix. Here’s why. Take a look at the center book below.
See how it has a nut on either side? These nuts establish the maximum width of the book, which means that even if you put, say, a folded magazine inside, the pressure of the magazine won’t bother the book at all. Because of the two nuts, the book will stay at exactly the width you set. That’s a good thing.
To attach the books together permanently, you’ll want to make sure that there are two nuts inside each book cover. Here’s the process: Slide the bolt into the first book and spin two nuts down the bolt, then keep sliding and spinning until you work the bolt into the second book, at which point you’ll throw on two more nuts and repeat the process. It’s a bit fiddly at this point, but as long as you end up with two nuts inside each book cover, you’re doing great. Keep working until you finish the second bold, as well as any additional bolts you need for stability. Once all the books are bolted together and everything feels solid, you can color this baby done!
Eric · August 24, 2012 at 10:30 am
I love books too and so, even though I am not crafty, I love this project! I have one question and one suggestion though. How easy or difficult would it be to attach a base to the organizer so that you could move it around without the letters and bills falling out?
And here's my suggestion to anyone who makes this: make it with recent hardcover books. I can easily see someone thinking that this would look even cooler if it was made with some old, cheaply purchased books with raised leather bindings. Caveat emptor! Depending on when the books were bound, your cool old leather bindings might develop red rot which is the term for the (usually) rust colored dust that these bindings give off due to the high acidity of the covers. You don't want to get that red dust all over your bills!
AnnDAngelo · August 24, 2012 at 10:47 am
Thanks for commenting, Eric! I didn't put a base on mine because I don't plan to move it around, but it would be quite simple to attach, say, the lid of a shoe box with the front "lip" removed and the sides trimmed to fit the width of the organizer. I would advise anyone who wants to do this to leave extra to make new "lips" on the sides. The lips can then be bolted to the outside covers.
Good point about the red rot! 🙂
AnnDAngelo · August 24, 2012 at 10:57 am
(The other thing you can do, of course, is put the device on a simple wooden tray and move it around that way.) 🙂
lillipadstudio · August 29, 2012 at 9:41 am
oh! I should do this and relieve my book shelves of that over cluttered, stuffed to the hilt look! Plus it will clean up my "pile papers here" pile and make it more intentional looking! Yay! Thanks Ann!
AnnDAngelo · August 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm
You're so welcome! It's one of my favorite projects of all time. I think you'll have a lot of fun doing it! 😀
Deborah Jennings · September 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm
I love books, too, but the ones that I have, I don't want to mess up, so . . . it is off to a thrift store to find one that is hardbacked, but not one I want to read or re-read. Awesome idea!
AnnDAngelo · September 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm
Thanks so much, Deborah! I had a great time shopping for books for this project. Hope you enjoy!
Lori Jones · September 15, 2012 at 12:38 am
What if you used glue instead go bolts??
AnnDAngelo · September 15, 2012 at 10:32 am
Lori, a strong glue would work alright for the connections between books; the problem comes when you put something inside the book cover to store it, as I discovered while I was making the project myself. I put a folded magazine inside one of my books to take a picture of it, and as the magazine "relaxed" (i.e. tried to return to its natural state of being flat), it pushed the covers of the book apart and then slipped free and fell on the floor. Whoops! That's when I realized that I not only needed bolts, but also nuts to establish a maximum width for each book, so that no matter what is put inside, the book covers won't move.
Heather Wynack · October 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm
Fantastic project, like me simple and no fuss, love the way you give instructions, laugh all the way, thank you Heather
AnnDAngelo · October 9, 2012 at 10:16 pm
Thanks so much, Heather! I appreciate your leaving such a great comment! 🙂
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