Building a Gift for My Mother: A Little Free Library

My third significant project was building a little free library for my mother. A Little Free Library is a small structure where anyone can stop by and borrow a book and bring back another book to share. Typically they are mounted on posts similar to mailboxes. The site can be used to register a location and the website provides a map and details from those put up worldwide.

John and His Little Free Library

I sketched out the design to make sure that it would hold large size books and so I could utilize 1x12s as my widest piece. When I built this in the summer of 2014, I did not own clamps greater than 12ā€ and had not yet glued up any wide panels. The design was loosely patterned after the appearance of an Amish shed. I cannot take credit for the post construction. My brother-in-law built the post for the library out of cypress and set it in the concrete footing. He is a timber framer and did an outstanding job on the post.

The construction of the main carcase of the little free library was simple, 1×12 yellow-poplar nailed with exterior finish nails (like cut nails these needed pilot holes to). I covered the nail heads with exterior putty and painted the library with two coats of exterior latex. I used cedar siding for the roofing materials and used brass nails to fasten them.

The door provide me some real skill building. It was constructed using mortise and tenon joinery with a rabbeted back which holds the plexiglass panel. The plexiglass is held into the rabbet with square dowels nailed into the door frame with brass nails. This was my first my first project with a mortise and tenon. I chopped the mortise with a 1/4ā€ mortise chisel and cut the tenons with a Japanese ryoba saw. The rabbets were also a first for me and since I own no joinery planes I cut them with a chisel. The layout of this door followed the descriptions presented in Chapter 3 of The Essential Woodworker (Lost Art Press) by Robert Wearing. This is an outstanding book on hand tool woodworking and I really could not have produced the quality of the door I did without this reference. The project also included my first attempt at a mortise hinge installation. Thanks to Robert Wearing’s instruction I was able to hang the door successfully.

Little Free Library Mortise and Tenon Door


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