Invisible Bookends

Turn discarded books into invisible bookends for a streamlined bookshelf display.Bookends are a great way to add a bit of style to your bookshelf, but what about when you don't really have room for a big ol' bookend? Or maybe you just want to keep things simple on your bookshelf. I had that problem recently. I needed a way to keep my books standing up at the end of the shelf, but didn't want to clutter things up with bookends, or ugly them up with thin metal bookends like the ones you see at the library. I just wanted my pretty books to shine in all their glory.

Then the thought occurred to meโ€” Why not turn a pretty, forgotten book from the thrift store into a bookend, solving all my bookshelf problems? It's the perfect thin shape, looks great, and is a nice way to give new life to a damaged or discarded book.

Turn discarded books into invisible bookends for a streamlined bookshelf display.See? No, you don't see, do you? That's because my bookends are practically invisible! They blend right into their environment while adding a bit of classic style to the ends of my bookshelf. A wonderful solution. Check out how easy they are to make!

Turn discarded books into invisible bookends for a streamlined bookshelf display.Supplies (for two bookends):
-2 books with 1" spines
-2 thin metal bookends (I used these)
-1×6 board or a board of another dimension to fit your book (see notes below)
-super glue (I used gorilla glue)
-clamps
-craft blade

Selecting Your Book and Lumber Size: My books measured about 5.75" deep, 8.25" high, and 1" thick. It's important to find a book depth that will correspond with lumber standard widths, so you don't have to do any unnecessary cutting of the lumber later. This is why I used a book with a 1" spine. I used a 1×6 board to fill the inside of my book, which really measures .75" x 5.75". This board fit my book dimensions perfectly! How did I know that would happen? Well, I brought my book spine to the lumber yard with me! There's a first time for everything.

If you can't find 1" thick books and need to fill out the inside of your book more, you can also find thinner sheets of lumber below the standard lumber sizes at places like Lowe's. Just stack and glue the boards to your desired thickness.

Turn discarded books into invisible bookends for a streamlined bookshelf display.Step One: Use a sharp craft blade or razor to cut away the contents of the book from its spine.

Feel free to read the contents later! Or discard the pages as I did. I was able to do this guilt-free, because I found my book at the thrift store and figured it was unloved and needed a new life.

Turn discarded books into invisible bookends for a streamlined bookshelf display.Step Two: Wrap the book spine around your lumber to mark where to cut the lumber. I left about a 1/8" gap at the top to achieve a more realistic book effect.

Step Three: Cut the board to the length you marked. If you don't have a saw at home, you can do this at the lumber yard. They will make cuts for you for free.

Turn discarded books into invisible bookends for a streamlined bookshelf display.Step Four: Cover the wooden blocks and metal bookends with moderate amounts of Gorilla Glue, as shown above. Don't get too close to the edges or it will seep out. Gorilla Glue foams and expands as it's clamped, which makes for a strong hold, but a messy final product if you're not careful when applying the glue.

Step Five: Once everything is all glued into place, use clamps to press it all together as the glue sets up. You should use scrap lumber as a buffer between the book and the clamps or the clamps will leave indents in your book. I made the mistake of not doing this, and got some pretty visible denting, especially on my orange book. Thankfully the dents aren't noticeable on my shelves. Whew!

Turn discarded books into invisible bookends for a streamlined bookshelf display.Here are my invisible bookends in action. It's as if my books are saying, "Look, Ma! No hands!" –Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella from the Signature Collection.