Today I have a really cute DIY to share with you, that we’ve been making over a couple of weekends. Since Mr Fox shares a room with us, and there’s little space beyond his crib and a couple of drawers for his clothes, the rest of his things are in the living room. We keep his toys in a colourful rubber tub, but he’s also been accumulating a number of books which were just piling up in a corner. What I wanted was just a small, free standing small shelf to hold the books, something that maybe looked a little cute too, but I didn’t find anything I liked, so I designed one myself and then enlisted the help of The Husband to make it. Since it’s almost equally tall, wide and deep, I’m calling it a book cube.
Here’s what I used:
- 2 sheets of MDF, roughly 50 x 50cm, and 10mm thick
- 1 plank of wood, 20 x 80cm, and 12mm thick (it came in this size at the DIY store, you could of course also just get to 40cm pieces, if available)
- wood glue
- 12 nails (45mm long, 5mm head)
- non toxic acrylic paint in red, black, white and green
- clear varnish suitable for use on children’s toys and furniture*
- a jigsaw
- a hammer
- a drill (optional)
- a large and a small paintbrush
- some fine sandpaper
- paper, a pencil and scissors
- a black pen
- a piece of chalk
If you’re in Germany, look for one with the locomotive logo that says “geprüft nach DIN EN 71-3”. I used a “2 in 1 Klarlack + Grundierung” in “Seidenmatt” from the brand “Vincent”. It also had the “Blaue Engel” logo, meaning its more environmentally friendly. I bought a 0.125 litre tin and used about 3/4 of it.
Step 1: Prepare your apple template (this is what you’ll need to paper, pencil and scissors for). Okay, confession time, it’s not a perfect cube! I was aiming for the apple to be 40 x 40cm at its widest measurements, but it ended up 43cm wide and 41.5cm high. Oh well… The template was too big for my scanner, so I couldn’t offer it for you as a download, but I’ve made a sketch for you showing all the measurements (see below). Tip: I folded the apple in half length wise before cutting it out, so that the two halves were symmetrical (apart from the stem, of course).
Step 2: Transfer the apple template on to your two sheets of MDF, by drawing around your template. I used a black pen, so that you could see exactly where you needed to saw. Confession: I let The Husband do the sawing.
Step 3: While you have the saw out, saw your plank of wood in half so that you have to pieces each 40cm long. Unless you had two 40cm long pieces to begin with, then skip this step.
Step 4: Paint the two apples from both sides, using the acrylic paint. I went with red for the apples and black for the stems. You can of course use different colours if you so please, e.g. a green apple with a brown stem.
Step 5: Fix your two 4ocm long pieces of wood together at a right angle. I used some express wood glue to hold them in place, then added four nails for stability.
Step 6: Decide what angle you want the shelf to be at. We tilted ours slightly, so the books sit in it kind of like a cradle, but you could make it more straight up like a regular book shelf if you wanted to. Then glue and nail the two apple ends in place – making sure that they are level and aligned with each other! It may require two people for this. We measured out and marked where the nails would go, and pre-drilled some holes in the apples in advance.
Step 7: Paint a cute face on the outsides of the apple ends. I added a green leaf, which looks like a lock of hair I think. If you sketch out the features in chalk first, than you can easily correct it until it looks just the way you want, then paint over it. Once the paint is dry, you can just wipe off any chalk residue with a damp cloth. You can just see a few chalk lines around the eyes in the photo above.
Step 8: To seal in the pain and to make the shelf a bit more robust against knocks – and more safe for younger kids who might lick it, as they tend to do with everything – varnish over it using a varnish specifically intended for children’s toys and furniture. I gave a few tips at the beginning about the varnish I used, but you can just ask a member of staff in the paint department at your local DIY store, who should know these kinds of things!
And voila! A cute little apple book cube, for displaying baby’s books, for keeping favourite books in a different room, for keeping your library books in one place, I’m sure you can think of other uses too. If you make one of these yourself, I would love to see a photo of it!