Ask S&C: Old Books, New Look

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In this age of e-readers and tablets, our library has gone the way of our CD collection: to dust. And judging by your letters, we're not alone. So we've come up with two simple DIY projects to help you clear off your shelves and put those old, derelict books to good use!

old_books_new_look1.jpgInvisible Shelf

heavy-duty liquid adhesive
old hardcover book
large L-bracket
vise or clamp
screws and anchors

  1. Glue L-bracket to back cover of an old book using liquid adhesive. (This will slightly damage book's cover, so be sure to choose one that does not hold sentimental value.)
  2. Clamp book closed for 24 hours to ensure a tight seal. Large clamps can be purchased for approximately $15 each and small ones for under $4 at most home-improvement stores.
  3. Once dry, screw L-bracket into wall. Be sure to use solid anchors as it will need to bear a lot of weight.
  4. Your shelf is ready for stacking! Layer books one on top of another for a whimsical floating effect. We grouped three shelves together to create a focal point on our wall.

old_books_new_look2.jpgPrinting Press Coffee Table

2 unfinished prefab precut wood shelves (available at most home improvement stores)
4 2- x 3-in. lengths of wood (in same material as shelves) for trim
wood screws
drill
4 castors
wood glue
wood stain or paint (in desired colour)
old books
4 press screws

  1. Frame one of prefab shelves with 2- x 3- pieces of wood. Predrill holes before attaching with wood screws. (We used pine trim and shelving for an industrial look.)
  2. Predrill holes and affix 4 castors to to bottom of same shelf with screws. Secure tightly as they will support entire table.
  3. Use 3/4-in. bit to drill holes into all four corners of other shelf, 2 in. from either edge. This will become the tabletop.
  4. Stain or paint wood in desired colour. (We chose a dark stain to make the white pages pop in contrast.) Allow for adequate drying time before moving on to the next step.
  5. Secure press-screw bases with glue to bottom shelf.
  6. Stack books between shelves and top with second shelf.
  7. Thread press screws through predrilled holes and into their respective bases. Tighten screws to secure table.

This edition of Ask S&C was inspired by viewers Michelle and Adam, who wrote to us looking for advice on what to do to clean up their bookshelves:

old_books_new_look3.jpgHi Steven and Chris,

As you can see, our bookshelves are getting a bit out of control. Our son has started to put his comic books in with my decorative items and all of our books. We are thinking of replacing the shelving with closed storage and getting rid of the books as we have converted to e-readers. It just seems such a shame to give away all these books; there's a bit of nostalgia there. Any suggestions on what to do?

Thank you,
Michelle and Adam

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Calling all book lovers! Don't miss the Scotiabank Giller Prize Gala live online or on CBC bold on Tuesday, November 8, at 9 p.m. ET!

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