Plans and Tips for Builders
We're building a collection of different designs and lessons learned by Little Free Library Builders. This is just the first. To download a version of instructions and the plans,click the words Download File below.
Instructions and Notes
From Personal Experience
I would like to communicate to you as a professional woodworker and experienced contractor, but I cannot because I am just a hobbyist who tinkers on his deck with a portable table saw. What a competent carpenter can do in 10 hours I can probably do in about 60, and not as well. I mention my simple skill set as encouragement for anybody who has the desire and elementary woodworking skills-- or the most experienced builder-- to tackle the rewarding task of building a Little Free Library.
The more builders we have, the more funds can go into the Little Free Library Pay it Forward Fund. That’s why we encourage you to read and contribute to the Facebook Neighborhood Library Builders Guild group. Ask questions, share tips, tell us all what works and what doesn’t, and have fun! New plans will be made available online from our members as soon as we receive them.
--Todd Bol, Co-Founder, Director of Building Development
Our first Little Libraries were roughly 20” wide by 15” deep by 18” high, mounted on a sturdy post or secure foundation. We’re now experimenting with different sizes and shapes, including Libraries that can house two shelves instead of just one. You most certainly can vary the dimensions as you see appropriate. Here are some good general principles:
As much as possible I try to incorporate excess building materials, old wood and scraps of metal while trying to repurpose as many parts of the Little Library as possible. My father passed away recently and I have incorporated pieces of our family barn, house, old mail box and other memorabilia into the Library. I see this as a living legacy and it makes me smile to see our family living on in the yards and parks of communities across the country.
To date I have used the following:
I use exterior glue and 1 5/8”-2 1/2” exterior screws to fasten the plywood panels together. I am careful to use a square to make sure all the sides are at perfect angles. My eyes never seem to see things squarely.
The next thing I do is cover the entire inside and outside of the box with an exterior stain or paint, paying special attention to the exposed ends and joints. These are the spots vulnerable to water damage.
By this point I have probably figured out what kind of recycled, repurposed or excess building material I can use to cover the Library. In the beginning I just used old barn wood, but water leaked inside. Since then I have used the double wall construction and have not had any problems. This is especially true when I have put a lip of 2” or more above the door to catch rain and keep it from dripping inside the door. Wisconsin winters can be very hard on any building, but I am proud to report that “during last winter’s 3-foot snow storms Libraries I built were dry and open for business when all other public buildings were closed.
I attach the wood to the plywood base with screws and/or nails always using exterior glue or liquid nails. I am careful to use nails and screws that do not stick through the other side of the plywood; a prickly problem that can occur and needs to be fixed with great care. I am speaking from experience. We definitely do not want to wound any of our Library patrons with bloody fingers from nail points.
Some general guidelines learned from the first 20 or more Libraries I have built: