Introduction: Miniature Bookcase With Books

About: I'm a senior in college majoring in Journalism with a minor in Graphic Design. I love art of all kinds and enjoy browsing--and making--projects here on Instructables.

When I saw a miniature book for the first time, I was struck with how cool they looked! When I tried to make one myself, I was even more impressed with how easy it is to make a tiny book.

Set in a handmade bookcase, miniature books make a great gift, conversation piece, or decoration. Give it to a book-loving friend or miniature enthusiast, or keep it for yourself! The entire project took me about four and a half hours to make, and after you read this instructable you can make it too!

This project involves a little woodworking--not difficult, but pretty small and detailed. Glue and tape holds the whole thing together, and the beautiful colored paper covers add charm and originality to your bookcase. Have fun making your own miniature library!

Step 1: Collect Your Materials

Here is a list of the tools and materials you'll need to make this project:

1) a cutting mat or cutting board

2) an X-acto or craft knife

3) Clear tape

4) Glue (in this project I used Elmer's school glue, but rubber cement works excellently as well)

5) A thin piece of Balsa wood (available at your local craft store)

6) Several sheets of plain white paper (any size works)

7) Scraps of colored paper

8) Brown acrylic paint

9) A paint brush (not shown in the image)

10) A strong clamp (not essential, but it sure helps)

11) Fine sandpaper not shown in the image)

Step 2: Create Your Bookcase Templates

Let's start the project by making the bookcase. You're going to need 7 separate pieces of balsa wood to make up the back, sides, shelves, and the front bottom pieces.

First, take a sheet of paper and cut it to 2 1/2 inches by 4 inches. This piece will be your back. You can mark it if you want to make sure you know what it is.

Next, cut one piece of paper 7/8 of an inch by 4 inches. This will form the sides of the bookcase.

Now you'll need one that is 7/8 by 2 1/2 inches. These will make the three shelves.

Last of the templates comes the decorative template. Cut a piece of paper the same size as the shelf template. Now fold it in half, as you see in the second image. Using a pen, draw a mark on one side that is shaped like half of a curly bracket ( { ). It might take a few tries to make it look nice. When the template is used, this will make a nice shape for the top of the shelf and for the bottom piece. Using your craft knife, carefully cut the design out. Unfold the paper, and you have your last template!

Step 3: Cutting the Shelf Pieces

We have our four templates, so now it's time to put them to use!

Grab your cutting mat and balsa wood. First we'll want the back of the bookcase, so lay the template on top of the wood. Using the craft knife, carefully cut around the template. Hold down the paper to keep it from moving or blowing.

WARNING! Craft knives are VERY sharp! Use extreme caution when using them! Keep your fingers away and don't let a child use it!

Find your "curly bracket" template. Lay it on the back piece at the top and cut out the design.

Next cut out two pieces of the side template. Here's where things get a little bit tricky. After you cut out the pieces, take up one of them and lay it onto the back piece. Make sure the bottoms are both at the same place. Using a pen, mark on the side piece where the back piece curves down to the very edge. Starting from that mark, make a drawing on the end of the side piece like I did in the image. This will make it so the top part of the sides will curve down from the back piece. Leaving it square makes it look too boxy. You don't have to do it my way, but it looks better in my opinion. Carefully cut that piece off, and use the piece as a template for your other side piece. Now you should have two identical side pieces with a curved top.

Time for the shelves! Using your template, cut out the three rectangles. Now let's think for a minute. They are exactly as wide as the back of the shelf, right? But that doesn't leave any space for the sides to be attached to the back! To fix this problem, use your craft knife and cut off 1/16 of an inch off the end of each shelf piece. If you cut them a little short, that's fine. Just make sure that they are exactly the same size.

Great! Now we have the back, sides, and shelves cut out!

Step 4: Put the Bookcase Together

Before we put anything together, you'll want to use sandpaper to go over the edges of the decorative part of the back piece, and the curved tops of the side pieces. Don't sand too hard. It's easy to take off too much when you're sanding Balsa!

Now you'll want your back piece. Using a pen, make three marks. One of them should be 1/2 of an inch from the base, and then next one should be 1 1/4 inches above that one, and the last mark should be 1 1/4 inches above that mark, as well. If you want, you can make identical marks on the other end of the bookcase, but on such a small project it's easy to eyeball it. Those marks are where your shelves will be glued.

Finally we can glue it together! Take a side piece and glue it to the edge of the back piece (shown in Image 3). I used school glue, since it's just a small project, but you can use wood glue if you like.

Repeat the above two sentences for the other side piece. The result should look like Image 4.

Find your three shelves, and spread glue on three edges: the two ends, and the back piece. Carefully slide it down between the two side piece, right where a mark is. Carefully adjust it until the shelf is sitting straight. We certainly don't want one end to be higher than the other! Repeat for the other two shelves.

"Wait!" I can hear you saying. "What about that little piece that goes on the front?" Don't worry, I didn't forget. You'll want to set the freshly-glued bookcase aside and cut a decorative piece that goes on the bottom front.

Use the Curly Bracket template and cut a piece of wood the same size as the template. (Image 5) However, the cutout should be too tall to fit in the gap. Slice off 1/4 of an inch of the long flat side. Spread glue on that side as well as the two short ends, and slide it in the gap. Voila! The shelf is now put together. Set it aside to dry, and we'll work on the shelf's contents ;)

Step 5: Putting the Pages Together

Take a blank sheet of white paper, and fold up one side about 3/4 of an inch. Consult the first image. Now, holding the folded part down, cut the paper on the edge of the fold. Now you should have a strip of paper folded in a V. Check out Image 2.

Fold the paper in half (image 3). Fold it in half again, and again. You should end up with a flattened folded piece of paper (no, we're not doing origami. If you look at image 4, you'll see I'm right).

Grab your clamp (if you're using one). Pinch the paper in it, with the folded edge just poking past the end of the clamp. Spread glue on that, and let it dry. At this point, it's great if you have a bunch of clamps. Clothespins work well in a pinch, too. While you wait for your glued book spines to dry, make more books.

After the spine is dried, release it from the clamp. Cut a piece of tape about 1/2 inch long and fold it over the spine and around it. That way even if the glue doesn't hold well, the tape keeps the book together. This works so well that I sometimes skip the clamp step and just put tape over the wet glue.

Step 6: Cover the Book

Find a scrap of colored paper large enough to wrap around the book. Cut it so that it is slightly thinner than the actual pages (See image 5). This will allow you to see where you are cutting later.

Fold the scrap of paper in half. Look at your book and determine how thick it is. Now fold the paper again, leaving a small space between the two folds that is about as thick as the book spine (see Image 3). Spread glue there and push the spine up onto the glued spot. Clamp it and let dry.

Step 7: Trim the Book

Now for the last step to making your book!

Using your craft knife, carefully cut the end of the book. This will make the cover and pages be the same length, and the pages should be smooth and even. Cutting through so many layers of paper will require that you run the knife several times over the cut in order to get through. You'll want to cut on all three sides of the book, not the spine. Be sure that you cut it square. so that the book looks like a rectangle (or square).

And now your first book is finished! Congrats! You can make as many or as few as you like. You can make them thick or thin, tall or short. You can make them any color of paper that you have on hand. Remember, it saves time of you make multiple books at once instead of creating them one by one.

Let's get back to the bookshelf and finish that up.

Step 8: Paint the Shelf

Now you should hopefully have a bunch of books, so you'll want somewhere to put them! The last step of making the bookshelf is the easiest.

Using a paint brush, coat the bookshelf in the brown paint. You might want to give it two coats if your paint is thin. I used brown acrylic paint, but you could paint it black, brown, or any color of the rainbow. Just make sure all the visible wood is covered with the paint.

Step 9: Make a Quill and Inkwell

A miniature quill pen and inkwell is a feature I like to add to my bookshelves. It adds a quaint, scholarly look to the case. But you don't have to make one if you don't want to. You only need three materials:

1) a small feather

2) a bead

3) black paint

Take your feather and trim it down. It should be very small or it will look out of proportion to the rest of the bookcase. (Image 1)

Paint your bead. I used a small faux diamond bead because its cool faceted surface looks really nice with the black paint. Painting such a small object is difficult, I know, but you can do it!

Place a dab of black paint onto a scrap of paper and set the bead onto it. Dip the end of the tiny quill into your paint, and push it down through the hole in the bead, where it should stand erect. Let the bead dry on the paper.

Once the paint has dried, use your craft knife to cut the small round piece of paper on which the bead sits. This lets the "inkwell" have a flat bottom so it won't turn over.

And we're done!

Step 10: Shelve Those Books!

We're finally done! Put your books on your shelves. Try out seeing how your colors look together, whether some of them look good sideways, or if they should all be upright.

Put your quill pen on the top shelf, unless you made it small enough to fit on another shelf.

Congratulations! You have finished your first miniature bookshelf! I hope you enjoyed creating it!

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