diy project: book strap side table

i’ve always loved seeing pictures of students using leather book straps; they are so charming and orderly. but to be honest, it is not the best way to carry heavy books around town is it? but to carry something that doesn’t move, like a table…perfect! i went to a local recycling center to pick up some extra books, built a couple small cubbies out of wood, and went to work! the rest is just gravity and organization (and a tiny bit of glue). have fun! –kate

CLICK HERE for the full project after the jump!


1. books (old paperbacks are perfect, from a recycling center or a yard sale)
2. old leather belts ( 4 men’s belts should be sufficient)
3. hot glue gun
4. wood for cubbies (1″x8″x48″ and 1x4x16″)
5. red gloss paint (or any color you wish)
6. paintbrush
7. saw
8. sandpaper
9. hammer and nails
10. cardboard (about 8″x14″)


1. to make the cubbies, you need to cut the wood into 8 pieces: two at 1″x8″x14″, four at 1″x8″x5″, and two at 1″x4″x8″. you will be making boxes that are 5″x5″ and 4″x14″.

2. sand all the edges and heat up the glue gun. you can use hot glue to secure your boxes before you nail them together, it makes nailing much easier. use the four 1″x8″x5″ pieces to create a square cubby. use the two 1″x4″x8″ pieces as the thin edges of a the longer rectangular cubby, and the 1″x8″x14″ as the top and bottom of the long rectangular cubby.

3. when the cubbies are nailed together, paint them with two coats of paint. allow them to dry between coats.

4. using the cardboard as a base for the table, start piling up the books to cover the base. there is no right way to do this, just start stacking the books with the pages facing out. it helps to have a couple heavy boxes to balance on the sides. as you place the cubbies and the books, it helps to glue a book here and there for sturdiness. i glued five books total, a couple to the cubbies and a couple to each other. i made sure to glue books i didn’t care about. you do not have to glue very many books at all to maintain a sturdy table.

5. continue building the books until you’ve reached the height you like. place the top cubby and glue anything else you need to to maintain the structure. the belts will also add a lot of support so it’s okay if a few things are a little wobbly.

6. lift the cardboard slightly to slide the belts underneath and position the buckles where you would like them to be. you may have to buckle two belts together and snip off or glue the extra tab down if it’s too long. tighten the belts as much as you can and slide a few extra books in to increase the snug fit if you need to. the top strap also comes in handy for holding the book you are reading!

7. your table will be sturdy, but because of its weight i still recommend lifting from the base to move it around.



  1. Rene says:

    THis is utterly FANTASTIC!!!!!

  2. C.Alicia says:

    Oh my…this is just georgeous! Wow, just wow!

  3. Make.Good says:

    Love this! Very inventive. This may also work with old magazines, stacked. The scale would be different, but may work.

  4. InspireMe says:

    Love it! I have so many paperbacks that I’ve enjoyed but can’t get rid of. How about having your favorites with the spines facing out?

  5. C.Alicia says:

    Oh my…this is georgeous! Wow, just wow! Definitely added to my DIY list.

  6. hi_design says:

    that is such a fun idea!

  7. What a bold way to take thoughts of school boys and girls from Laura Ingalls Wilder books and Winslow Homer paintings into the modern!

  8. LOVE this! We have so many books that we save from the library’s dumpster, this would be a good way to put them to use.

  9. Krissy says:

    What a neat idea! Very thrifty! I might have to give this a try some day. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  10. Rachel says:

    I love this! I’ve been looking for ways to make a furniture piece out of books. Originally thought of making a coffee table, but this is utterly perfect.

  11. Seema says:

    reminds me a little of Droog designs’ chest of drawers
    which are so cool!

  12. Stephanie says:

    Love it! Saving this idea for sure!!

  13. awesome idea! I’m so trying this!

  14. Dave says:

    it is very Droog

  15. Love the night table, although it is going to be tricky to get some of these books out for reading :) :)

  16. I’ve accrued SO many books since my days as a college Lit. major and this is by far the most inventive way I’ve seen to display them! I love it, and my husband will be THRILLED to see them in their own space.

  17. Barbara says:

    I work with students buying their textbooks at the term, they always complain when they don’t get any money back for their books….but then they ask what’re they supposed to do with them, the books… I can show them (can I copy it?)

  18. so so so brilliant!!! I love this project.

  19. Rachel says:

    This is awesome! Now if I can just convince my husband to let me use all his old history text books he never uses I’ll be in business : )

  20. Marie says:

    This is awesome! Looks like a great way to recycle all my old phone books! Thank you!!!

  21. Bargain Bex says:

    Clever, clever girl.


  22. Bethany says:

    I finally have something creative (and useful) to do with all my many law school books! Ironically, it will end up being my most expensive piece of furniture!

  23. Astrid says:

    This is utterly gorgeous and a fabulous way of making books practical (whilst they’re not being read, of course)

    However, it’s not a good idea for everyone: could I warn people against doing this if they live in a humid environment? Books left on the floor like this, combined with humidity not only causes mould (oops!) but also attracts silverfish…ergh.

  24. Sue says:

    This is such a clever way to put unused books to good use, but I have to agree with Astrid. and would worry about the books getting moldy after awhile.

  25. Jane says:

    love it! going to get crafty this weekend…!!

  26. Natalie says:

    Just found something to go on the book shelf – a book strap for books!

  27. Amy E. says:

    looks great!

  28. Rachel G says:

    wow! What a brilliant idea! Best for book worms.

  29. BCOME says:

    That’s a great idea!!! Love it!!

  30. snehash says:

    great idea!!


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