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The One Where We Made a Librarian

If you know my 8-year-old daughter, Abigail, you know that she is a reader. She will occasionally eat, sometimes sleep. Other than that she is reading. We can’t keep her supplied with enough books. In a side-by-side comparison, she destroyed me. And her recall is bordering on spooky.

So for her 8th birthday, my wife and I decided to make her a librarian. Once again, Jess introduced me to a brand new thing I had never even heard of: a Little Free Library. Now I find them all over. The concept is you can take a book, but you need to leave a book in it’s place, so there will always be books to borrow. We sat down, designed, and built Abigail her own library. We even registered it with littlefreelibrary.org so she could be official.

The library is basically a box with an added peaked roof. I used 3/4″ plywood for everything and pocket holes screws with my Kreg Jig where I could. Before putting everything together I drilled a series of holes in each side to make an adjustable shelf.
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I made the door frames using 1×3 and 1×2 boards. My Kreg Jig made making pocket holes easy and the joints strong. We will add plexiglass when we are ready for a strong, transparent windows.

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Waterproofing is important on this project to protect the books in an environment prone to rain. I’m pretty proud of how I used my table saw to cut own notches in the door frames to get them to overlap. I will use weatherstripping all around the doors and down this joint to prevent water from entering. The hinges are designed to close with a decent amount of force which should keep a good seal.

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I painted the roof edges white to simulate white facia boards. I then used a piece of scrap tar paper to cover the entire roof. I also used some exterior clear caulking to seal every joint possible.

My wife found some really great natural paint powder called Milk Paint at a store we visited on Orcas Island in a color we loved. I mixed it with water and it turned out beautiful. And it should weather the years really well.

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Here is my favorite part. Before permanently attaching the roof, I got a $5 solar path lamp, took it apart, and wired the solar panel to the roof and the light to the inside. The idea is during the day the solar panel will charge the rechargeable battery. When it gets dark, the built in photo sensor will turn the light on, and keep it on until the battery is out. My guess is it should last a few hours depending on how much sun it got that day.

I had a few shingles left over from the chicken coop project, so I used those for the roof.

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While waiting for everything to dry, we installed the post. a 4′ post and a little bit of concrete and it went together in about 15 minutes, including digging the post hole with my post hole digger.

We tested the sturdiness.

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After painting the post, the next step was to install the library. I used lots of screws and probably went overkill on the bolts. Better safe than sorry.

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That night we went out to check the solar light. To my pleasant surprise it not only worked perfectly but was a lot brighter than I imagined it would be.

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And finally, we installed the official Little Free Library sign we received after registering the library. We are all set to go.

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Here is Abigail’s video introducing her Little Free Library to the world.

Little Free Library from Trevor Peterson on Vimeo.

Here are some of the tools and supplies I used in this project. If you are interested in one, click to take a look. You get a fun product, I get a fun commission. Thanks!


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