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 me— 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.
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!
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I love this idea. Another way to do this to save the vintage book is to glue and envelope inside the front cover of the book and slip the bookend into that envelope. This way you do you not glue the book to anything and it’s a 2 minute project!
GENIUS!! Thank you for the idea.
So pretty! love this. could use the discarded pages for decorating journals/notebooks/traveler’s notebook inserts/a base for a cool drawing or art project. Thanks!
this is lovely… however, i would LOVE to have this copy of the luckiest girl… one of my longtime favorite books! I hate to see it gutted and trashed. 🙁
This is so cute . I really love reading and this is very helpful.
This is a great idea, thank you so much for sharing!
Thank you! It’s actually a vintage print originally from Sears Roebuck (according to the label on the back) that I found at a local antique mall. -Mandi
This is definatley now on my list of things to do in the holidays! Love this smart idea!
These invisible bookends are way too cute Mandi, and perfect for my cookbooks! I don’t want a lot of clutter on my kitchen shelf, so having other books hold up my cookbooks would be perfect! The best part about this entire thing is how cheap and easy it is! I already have all of the materials, now I just need to make it.
So cute, I love it! I’m gonna try it right now, it’s such a rainy day…
I love this. I’ve been looking for bookends for a while now and this might be the perfect solution.
I love this idea! I’ve always done something simpler (and not as damaging to those amazing vintage books!) by simply stacking a few horizontally on each side. This also creates visual breaks on my shelves.
I also wanted to let you know that I’m reading this in mobile, and the formatting of the photos is way off. I’m seeing photos from other entries intermixed all over the place.
Scarlet, this is from years ago but as someone with a huge collection of books, this is a great idea! Yes, stack some books horizontally if you don’t have a single hardcover book that will stand up on its own with no modifications! THAT is what I would look for at a used bookstore. Then if someone comes along… I don’t know. I would be disappointed to find fake bookshelves especially in small apartments or other smallish spaces where there is not much space for decorations.
I’ve always had such a love for those old type of vintage books that smell funny and are gorgeous colours and the cover feels all fabric-y. If you didn’t have an old book that you wanted to glue up, you could even just do this with an old book you still read and put the book end inside and just stand it up (without the glue). Love it!
WOW, great idea. Thanks for sharing.
This is such a great idea! I really like these bookends because you would have no idea that they were actually bookends. It seems like they are a fairly easy thing to make, which is really nice. I would love to make these for my own library that I have in my bedroom. However, my husband has been looking for some bookends, and I think he would like to get some that are more unique and interesting, instead of some that just look like regular books! Thanks for the great how-to 🙂
Your so creative!
Love this! And that poster/painting next to she shelves? I WANT IT. Where can I find it?
Well that’s my next bit of spare time sorted! What a fab idea!
They are lovely!
this is such a clever idea!