So I was hoping to write a lot more here on the blog when school ended, but then I got a job, and I went home to CA for my cousin’s beautiful wedding, and I ran a 5K in Coney Island (yes, I know what you’re thinking: you, who hates running, ran a 5k? My half-marathon-running husband finally got to me, and I must say, it wasn’t too terrible. Running for a race at least gives it a purpose) followed by a rather entertaining time at a Brooklyn Cyclones game. That stadium is like a carnival in and of itself—so entertaining, as long as you don’t really care when your pitcher throws 9 balls in a row, most of which actually hit the dirt. Anyway. My point is: I’ve been doing all sorts of fun things that I really want to share, but out of everything, this is what I’m most excited about:
I created this book bench (two of them, actually) a while back for something that didn’t end up panning out, and now I am finally getting around to showing it (them) off. And the best part? I MADE IT FROM SCRATCH, ENTIRELY BY MYSELF! OK, well, Justin guided. But I built. And I haven’t built anything since sophomore year in college when I took painting and made all my own canvases. A lot of canvases, in fact. (I found the process of building—hammering, mostly—great stress relief during finals. I highly suggest it!)
Unfortunately, I didn’t really take many process photos, and though I have a sort of step-by-step guide, it’s a little tricky without photos to correspond. But, here it is anyway:
· 1 1×8 pine board cut to 18” long
· 1 1×2 pine board cut into three 6” long pieces
· Wood glue
· 6 1-¼” wood screws
· Canvas cut into two 19×7” pieces
· Matching thread
· Leather straps (1½” wide, approximately 50” long)
· 2 belt buckles
· 8 rivets
· Sewing Machine
· Leather hole puncher
· Xacto knife or rotary cutter
· Hammer or mallet
(Note: many of these materials can be substituted. For example, you can use vintage belts from your local thrift store if you don’t want to make them yourself, and the fabric can be changed to something more colorful if that fits better in your home.)
1. Arrange your books: This is the 2nd hardest part (ha!). I tried a hundred different ways, but I knew that I wanted the spines to show, and so I settled on this sort of “puzzle” display. Why is it hard? Well, most books are different sizes. And you need to mess around with them to find a formation that ultimately evens out. (This project would also work really well with magazines for a nice square bench, but I chose books because a] I love books, and b] I had way too many to fit in my little IKEA bookshelf, thanks to an awesome book review writing class at The New School where I took home dozens of advanced copies. They had started taking over a corner of my living room, and no matter how I stacked them, they always looked chaotic. Hence, a practical and aesthetically pleasing way to store them.)
2. Measure the base of book stack, and build the platform: The first thing to do is saw the wood pieces to the proper length. This will almost certainly vary depending on your books. For the base to be big enough to support my arrangement of books, it needed to be 18” long by 7¼” wide (the original width of the purchased board). You’ll want a little extra space on all sides, most likely—unless you have really big hardcovers on the bottom, in which case it might be just around the same width.
Then, place two of the 6” long wood pieces one inch in from the left and right sides of the 18” long board. Place the third piece in the center. Glue all pieces down and let dry for thirty minutes. These are the “feet.” Once dry, flip over the base. On the top, make pencil marks where you will drill in the screws. You want to put a screw near the top and bottom edges of each 6” piece. Pre-drill all 6 holes before inserting the screws.
3. Make the cushion: For the cushion, sew around the perimeter of the two pieces of fabric, leaving approximately 2½” open in the center of one of the long sides. Push the fabric through the hole to turn it right side out. Stuff with poly fill until desired cushiness is reached. Stitch up opening.
4. Make the belts: OK, so, this part is the hardest! It’s confusing and I’ll be honest: were it not for the fact that my husband happens to make leather belts on a regular basis, I would be clueless here. There are a lot of little tools needed, and a lot of weird measurements to consider. I also don’t even know where you get the stuff for this (yes, Justin already had it all). I’ll give you the basic idea, but you’re better off googling “How to Make a Leather Belt,” or picking up some awesome vintage ones from the thrift story / Etsy.
So… to make the belts: cut leather straps at 1½” wide, approximately 50” long. Again, the length may depend on your book arrangement. You might want to measure around your books first, accounting for extra slack behind the buckle, and at the opposite end. Punch and cut all necessary holes to insert belt buckle into leather strap. Using a mallet, strike rivets closed.
(See? I told you I have no idea how to describe this part. Sorry.)
5. Finish it up: Arrange your books on the wood base. Place the cushion on top. Wrap belts under base, between the wooden feet, and around the cushion. Mark with a pencil where you will need to punch holes in order to fasten the belt tightly. Punch at least one hole above where you think you need to fasten, just in case the belt needs to be even tighter (chances are that it will). Then, secure belts around bench, and enjoy your new seat by a bright window—preferably while reading one of your favorite novels.
And there you have it! I’m still working on my how-to blog post skills, but I really wanted to share this with you all. It was a fun weekend project that really paid off—they look great in my living room, and now all my overflow books are being used, even while not being read.
What more could you possible want, especially in a small apartment?