Book Shelf? ...what Book Shelf?




About: I'm an Emu. As a young chick my parents use to feed me watermelon and I loved it so much everyone nick named me, you guessed it, watermelon. Now that I have moved away from home I rarely get to eat any water...

This could be a great magic trick instructable but I decided to stick with its real purpose of putting book cover artwork on display.

I have tons and tons of case-bound books with very artistic covers which are packed away in boxes, hidden away in bookcases or that are on shelves or covered up by other books or magazines.

Finding clear space on a shelf or table to stand a book up so that both sides can be seen is a challenge but not so much of a challenge when walls and doors are recruited to make viewing covers possible instead.

Here then is an instructable of how to display the artistic covers of a book when space on a table or shelf is not available for displaying, by using a door or wall to display book covers instead.

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Step 1: First, Get Yourself a Case-bound Book With Some Artistic Covers

If you paid as much money for textbooks as I did, which are now very much out of date, you may at least have the consolation of the artwork provided by the publisher on the covers

If you are in need of books to use for this project then ask your school or local librarian if she (or he) can provide you with any that have been withdrawn from circulation. Once a book in a library looses favor among readers you can usually get the artwork for free.

Step 2: Get Familiar With the Parts of a Case-bound Book

Locate the passageway between the case and the liner. Find the signatures and the signature boundaries. Paperback books can be used but do not have a passageway or signatures. Instead the pages are glued directly to the back.

Step 3: Take Measurements

Measure the:

1. Width of the book (how much room it takes up on a shelf), excluding the covers, from first page to last page. (for page binding)
2. Page height. (for hanger rod)
3. Page depth. (for hanger rod and loop)
4. Book weight (for sizing hook and line)

Step 4: Make the Hanger Backing

Cut a piece of aluminum sheet about three quarters of the width of the book and 1" longer than the page height. Put a small indentation on each end, about half way from each side.

Step 5: Bend the Ends and Insert the Strip

Bend the ends of the aluminum strip to a 90 deg. angle, 1/2" from each end and carefully insert the strip into the passageway between the back and liner. You may have to slightly unbend the strip but at least get the bend started before inserting it into the spine.

Step 6: Find the Last Page

Open the back cover of the book and thumb through the last few pages until you find the last numbered page.

Divide this page number by 2.

If, for instance, the last numbered page is 3052, divide by 2.

Let's see... I got 1521.

Open the book to the page number you calculate. In this example the calculated page number is 1521.

Determine whether the two adjacent pages have the same signature.

If not, reopen the book to a page that is a little higher or lower.

The middle of either the left or right signature would be good if it is not too far off center.

Step 7: Bind the Pages

I used Berkley Big Game monofilliment fishing line but you can use most any monofilliment fishing line - even generic line from an old fishing rod.

Cut a couple of lengths long enough to go around the book head to tail, back cover to front cover, plus a little extra for tying a slip knot.

Open the book to the middle pages found in the last step.

Lay half the length of the monofilliment across the page a couple of inches or so from the edge of the page running head to tail and close the pages over it.

With the cover of the book still open lay the other half of the monofilliment between the open cover and the page the cover will touch when closed.

Place the unknotted end of the line through the slip knot and pull the line tight. Be sure that the pages stay flat. This can be done by closing the cover and putting a little pressure on the book while the slip knot is tightened. When tightened the slip knot should seize the line and keep it from slipping.

Open the cover and tie a Fisherman's knot on top of the tightened slip knot to keep it from coming undone.

Do the other half of the book in the same way.

This step will make mounting the book a whole lot easier, especially if you mount a big heavy book.

Step 8: Make the Hanger Rod

Cut a length of aluminum fence wire twice the page height. (Most any other type of wire will do but aluminum wire is easier to work with.)

At each end make a small loop around a pencil and then twist the short end around and around below the loop to end up with a sort of Hangman's looking noose. 5 to 10 turns should be enough depending on the weight of your book. Cut the excess off and use pliers to press the cut end closer to the wire.

Open the book and Insert the hanger rod between the back and the aluminum backing. Stop when 1/3 of the extended hanger rod is sticking out the head and 2/3 sticking out the tail.

Fold the rod over and into the indentation you made previously in the aluminum backing, toward the center of the book so that the hanger rod is caught in the indentation.

Step 9: Make the Hanger Loop

Now use two to five strands of monofilliment line (or package twine) to make the hanger.

Make a loop with the line or twine to go through both loops of the hanger rod.

Tie the hanger loop securely so that when one side of the loop is pulled tight it will not extend past the margin of the page with the book closed.

You may have to adjust the length of the hanger loop in the next step. Sometime a slip knot can make the adjustment a little faster.

Step 10: Mount a Hook on a Wall or Door

The size and type hook depend on the characteristics of the book. For a heavy and large book a bigger hook is needed.

In this example a smaller hook is used but a hole is drilled in the drywall right up to the stud to get the point of support closer to the drywall and to be sure all of the threads on the screw can go into the stud.

Small hooks will usually work since a large portion of the weight of the book will be carried by the friction of the surface of the wall.

If you plan to do more than one book a neat trick is to mount a 1" strip of hardwood wood inlaid across the studs level with the drywall or mount a wider piece on top of the drywall as a backing for the hooks. This really looks super cool, but I need more time to do more than one or two books.

Step 11: Mount the Book

Have some twine or a set of small bungee cords ready to hold the book closed. You will need to do this unless your have a helper until the monofilliment is tied.

Readjust the hanger rod ends to create a 1/20 head and 19/20 tail extension as shown in the photo and hang the hanger loop on the hook.

Begin sliding the book up the wall while closing the book. Take up any slack in the hanger rod and loop as you persuade the hanger rod to slide back to its original 1/3 head and 2/3 tail division. This can be very, very tricky and can take a lot of patients and time, which may require you to consider using monofilliment line for the entire hanger. For heavy books you can double or triple the strands of monofilliment to make up for removing the strength of the wire.

Allow the book covers, hanger rod and loop to slowly take up the weight of the book as the book is being closed.

Once the book is closed raise and lower the book slightly to "seat" it more securely on the hook and take up any final slack from hanger relocation.

If you can't close the book then start over using a longer hanger loop. Your goal here is for the hanger rod and loop to be long and loose enough when readjusted for the book to close but short and tight enough for the hook to be hidden.

When the book can be closed and the hook hidden use twine or small bungee cord to temporarily hold the book closed.

Step 12: Secure the Covers

Now replace the bungee cords or twine, used to temporarily hold the covers closed, with clear monofilliment fish line.

I've had several books held to a wall and to a door for the past 8 months using this mounting technique. With all the abuse an occupied bedroom door can give, all that has ever been needed is a slight tilt adjustment.

You can use smaller hooks and monofilliment fish line to replace the aluminum wire hanger rod for lighter books and paperbacks.

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    37 Discussions


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    If you are not interested in displaying covers but just in getting your books out of boxes then you can use wood strips, either inlaid in the drywall or laid on top to span the studs. The hooks can then be mounted much closer to form a "shelf-less" shelf of books. This is the project I'm working on now but it going very slowly and takes lots of spare time to get every book aligned. Definitely a project for permanently retired books.


    Reply 2 years ago

    I am interested and wondering if you have a picture of this to share here. Thank you.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    how about a floating shelf? Take a hollow-core door and cut it in half(or less), then screw the hollow part to a 2x2 which is already screwed to the wall.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Can you give more detail for this for a simple minded crafter pleas? I would like to try and use this idea for a headboard for a double bed that I am going to make from a design I found here. Thank you.


    4 years ago on Step 8

    This is exactly the instructable I was hoping to find. Very nice, thanks. Looking forward to giving it a try.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm. I like it. But is there a variation that does not require metal?


    Reply 11 years ago on Step 6

    Its not my fault... our teacher told us using calculaters and spelrs would make our minds go limp so I stoped using a calulater or seller. ;D


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I imagine this would be so much easier if you just used clear perspex, attached to the wall using dry wall screws and making a mini-bookshelf out of it. Or I could be full of crap.

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I see no reason why you could not make a back to back rolled edge corner brace using sheet steel mounted to a stud or to a mounting plaque that would be hidden from view inside the book and serve well as a shelf. The required thickness of plastic to do the job of steel might be a problem. Also plastic has a very nasty habit of being too flexible to keep its original position or shape when a little weight is added. Sometimes the only way to find out if an idea is any good is just to save up the funds and do it.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    i like this idea, tho i cant help trying to figure out a way to make like something that would allow u to place the book on a shelf or something.

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    There are several ways but I have not decided which one yet to publish first. Although not as portable, this one is the easiest and uses the least materials when you do not need to include the steps required for a large and heavy book.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Am I seeing things, or is that a vagina in the pic on step 3?