At my last house, I had the cutest Little Free Library that I LOVED. So since the minute we moved in, I’ve wanted to make a new one for our Florida home. Finally, the time has come! And I have Little free library plans if you want to make your own! Here’s the full tutorial.
If you haven’t heard of little free libraries- they are book share boxes made by normal people and put outside their homes or shops that are filled with books that anyone can borrow or add to. This is a fun way to embrace a love of reading and foster a sense of community. Plus, they’re a great way to creatively make something that will benefit your neighbors (and look cut outside your house)!
The first little library was built in 2009 and since then over 75,000 public book exchanges have popped up and are registered here. For $39 you can get a plaque with a registration number if your build your own library.
Here’s the rules for a Little Free Library if you’ve never used one. They are free so anyone can take a book or share a book. If you see something you like, feel free to take a book- you don’t need to leave a book to take one. If you’re ever done with a book, consider donating used books to a little library in your area to share the love of reading.
One cool thing about free little libraries is that they are all located on a map here! Which makes it really easy to find all the local mini book exchanges. One day last week, my family and I drove around visiting all that are local to us. I snapped a photo of each one so I could reference them for inspiration later.This was a fun way to get excited about the project and see some cute details that are unique to each one. I’d definitely recommend this activity if you want to make a free little library too.
little free library plans
Let’s start with the video tutorial so you get an overview on what I did. Then, I’ll dive in with more details below
If the video doesn’t work here, you can watch it on YouTube here. I’d be over the moon happy if you subscribed to my YouTube channel! Videos are actually released on YouTube first (usually the night before they’re published on the blog). Thank you!
- 3/4″ x4’x8′ Plywood – 1 sheet
- outdoor exterior latex paint (I used Cupcake Pink and ultra pure white)
- shingles (we had some on hand- these are similar)
- roofing nails
- brass hardware pull
- decorative onlay
- hinges– 1 pack
- poly acrylic clear top coat
- cabinet door magnet
- wood filler
- construction adhesive
- concrete– 2 bags
- wood for door- 1″x3″x8′– 1
- cap trim for door -1
- plexi glass 11×14
- 2x4x8 studs– 1
- 4x4x6 cedar posts– 1
- brass plaque (if you choose not to register your little library)
Note, we tried to use items we had at our house that were leftovers from other projects. Both to be economical and good to the planet. I’d suggest trying to use items you already have too!
step 1- cut the components of the Little free library
Start by cutting the plywood sheet into smaller pieces. This project is more affordable because we took a large piece of wood and cut it down with a table saw. This will provide the front, back, sides, two roof pieces, shelf and base of the little library. Cut the wood to the sizes indicated below. Make sure to cut 2 of the front and back and sides.
What are the dimensions of a free little library? This one is 18″ wide x 16 1/2″ deep x 26 7/8″ high. Once on the post the overall height is 46 7/8″ high.
This is a petite size, but plenty big enough to share a variety of books with the neighborhood. Plus it’s designed to be economical and easy for a beginner to build. Since creating this tutorial, hundreds of people have make Free Little Libraries using this tutorial! If you do too, please take me (@athomewithashley) on Instagram- I LOVE seeing your creations!
To cut the front and back of the house, use a circular saw to cut the peak. The roof is cut on a 45 decree angle. The angled cut starts at 18″ high.
step 2- build a base
Next, make the base for the little library. For this, we used the piece of plywood we cut and screwed in 2×4’s for the bottom. We cut the 2×4′ into 3 lengths (cut 2 of each)- 16 1/2″, 7 7/8″, and 3 1/2″ x 2 3/16″. These create a square opening in the bottom where they will sit on the post.
Here’s the top of the plywood where we screwed the plywood and 2×4’s together. This will be the floor of the little library.
step 3- assembly
For the front of the house, we already had that piece cut, but we needed to cut in an opening where the books and door will go. We started by drawing where the door would go. This helped us figure out where we wanted the opening to be. We decided to have our opening be 11″x14″ since that is the size of plexiglass we’re using.
Once that was settled, we drilled a large hole through the opening to give our jig space to begin cutting. We used the jigsaw to cut out the opening
Last, we used screws to attach it to the rest of the house.
step 4- ROOF SUPPORT AND SHELVES
And now its time to work on the roof! Cut 2×4 inch studs for this step. We started by attaching pieces to the roof so we had a place to attach the trusses.
To create the door, we began by cutting our 1″x3″ board into 4 pieces with a miter saw on a 45 degree angle. We cut two pieces 17 1/2″ long and two pieces 14 1/2″ long. At this time, we also cut the cap trim that will go over the Plexiglass. We cut two pieces 14 1/2″ long and two pieces 11 1/2″ long.
Next, I used wood filler to close up the seams and cover up the screw holes. When that was dry, I sanded it smooth. At that time, I primed the PVC cap trim with Slick Stick so that I could paint it without the paint coming off (something I recommend doing whenever painting plastic).
Next, everything got painted Cupcake pink.
After the paint dried, I put a small bead of construction adhesive around the perimeter of the door. Note, before glueing, I traced the piece of plexiglass so I knew how far to glue AND where to place the glass once I’d put the glue down.
I placed the plexiglass on top of the glue and firmly pressed down.
Then, I glued on the pieces of PVC cap trim to finish it off. Make sure to have a wet paper towel close by in case any glue seeps out. I let this dry overnight without touching it. Once dry, I used caulk to fill all the seams and did some paint touch ups.
step 6 finish work
For the finish work, start by caulking every seam. You want to think about the fact that this will be sitting outside so you don’t want bugs or water to get in. I used caulk on the plywood edges to smooth it out a bit to prep it for painting. For the screw holes, I used two coats of wood filler to completely fill the holes.
Once that was dry, I painted the bottom while it was inside. I figured painting it on its side like this was WAY easier than painting it once it was in place outside. I finished up sealing the little free library with Gator Hide (a poly acrylic clear top coat). Make sure to lightly brush it on so it doesn’t yellow the surface.
Attach the two pieces of plywood to the top to create a roof.
Attach the pulls to the door of the library.
On the inside, you can kind of see the magnet we added to the door. This is a VERY important step! This makes it so that the door stays close during wind. We didn’t do this with our last little library and in a storm, the doors blew open and one broke off and the glass shattered. After that, we repaired it and added a magnet. Don’t skip this step!
For the roof, use roofing nails to attach shingles to the top.
If you’re wondering- how do I waterproof my little free library? Do two things- use shingles designed for an home and attach them to the top. If the roof angles down and there is an overhang on the roof, that will protect the majority of the library. Second, use exterior paint on the library and post. Exterior latex paint is durable, easy to get at the hardware store and will weatherproof the house.
step 7- post
How do you put a little free library in the ground? Did an 18″ hole. Put the post in the hole. Pour concrete in the hole- add water. Brace the post while the concrete dries. Once dry, cut the post to the correct height and screw the little free library onto the top of the post.
Outside, we dug an 18″ deep hole for the post to go into. This will be the support for the little free library.
We put stakes in the ground and screwed on scrap pieces of wood to hold the post level. Then we put in our bags of concrete and mixed them with water.
How high off the ground should a little library be? The lowest shelf should be 18-20″ off the ground. That way a child or someone in a wheelchair can reach the books on the bottom shelf. I want my little free library to be accessible to anyone who wants to read so having it at the proper height is an important consideration.
Once the post is secure in the ground, put the little library house on top of the post. Use screws and from the inside of the library attach it to the post. Use wood filler to cover up the screw heads and paint over them so they disappear. The bottom of the little library is designed to sit perfectly on top of the post and give it more support. I show this step better in the video.
Here are some pictures of it all assembled in front of our house! Doesn’t it look sweet?!
I filled it with all of the books I had on hand. They’re mostly chapter books Don and I have read together, but you’ve got to start somewhere! Once thrift stores are open I’ll stock it even better.
I just love the character it adds to the front of the house! I have a brass plaque coming today that says “little free library, share a book, take a book.” Until it arrives, I really need to add a hand written sign to the front!
Last night I was chatting with my neighbors and they were really excited for it! They had some ideas for how to get the word out about it and said they’ll add books too. That made me happy.
This has been such a fun project! I love reading and that this project celebrates that. Plus this little library reflects my style so putting it together was a joy. Honestly, this project was a little tricky to carry out with slow ship times and trying to shop in store as little as possible. It was worth it to push past the barriers, but it did feel like it took extra long because it was harder to do.
Really, the saying “anything worth having is worth working hard for” is true and applies now more than ever. I’ll keep fighting to create. Hopefully soon this will all be done and all aspects of life will be easier!
After finishing up my Free Little Library, I felt like it was missing something. So I ordered scalloped dollhouse trim, painted it white, and glued it on to the roof line. How cute is that little addition?! It’s all in the details!
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
If you love it, pin it!