How To Build a Spool Bookcase

How To Build a Spool Bookcase



I titled this post…..”How to Build a Spool Bookcase.”

I wanted to call it….How I Found a Spool in the Middle of the Aisle at the Home Improvement Store and Despite the Incredulous Stares of the Surrounding Employees and My Husband I Overcame Disbelief and Dismissiveness to Create a One-of-A-Kind Bookcase For My Front Entry.

But that title seemed just a little long.

Just a little. 🙂

If you would have been a fly on the wall that day you might have heard a conversation that went a little like this:

Me:  (finding the spool just sitting in the middle of the aisle and running towards it like it was the Hope diamond) :  Excuse me…..excuse me… this for sale?  Seriously? 

Store Employee(turning around to see what I’m talking about)  The spool?


Me: (breathlessly on the edge of my seat from excitement and the thrill of discovery):  Yes!  Yes!  The spool!  Can I buy it?

Store Employee: (shrugging shoulders and turning another employee in the aisle) Hey other Mr. Store Employee….this lady….wants the spool?  I think we were about to toss it?  Can she have it?

Me: (holding my breath) Gulp.

Store Employees:  (exchanging glances)  Sure.  Can you take it now?  What are you going to do with it?

Me: (in total disbelief that they can’t see the vision)  I’m going to make a bookcase.  And it’s going to be amazing.  See….I’m going to get these metal pipes….umm….then have my husband….umm….drill these holes….and have all the pipes fit around the base and add some glue….and…..(with a total burst of inspiration)…and then I’ll put it in the front foyer with books and this incredible rusted armillary that I have.

Store Employees: (saying nothing with totally blank looks) 


At this point in the conversation…..

… husband walks up.

Me:  (grabbing his hand and gesturing wildly toward the spool and proudly saying) “Cutie…..look…..a spool!”

Him: (staring blankly at the leftover spool in the middle of the home improvement aisle with a quizzical look)  Yep.  It’s a spool.

Me: (trying frantically to get him to see the diamond in the rough)  It’s going to be a bookcase.  I think we can get some plumbing fixtures and drill some holes and attach the pipes and……and can you see it…..and can we load it up in the truck now…..and….(totally pausing for dramatic emphasis to seal the deal)

….it’s free.

The store employees looked at me……and then glanced at my husband with a look.

A look that said so much…..without ever saying a word.

I know what they were thinking.

They were probably thinking how creative I was.

And how lucky he was.


Extra lucky.

So fortunate he had a creative wife to think up projects to keep him extra busy…..

……so he didn’t have to waste his time watching all those basketball games.

Lucky, lucky him. 🙂


How to Build a Spool Table



nine plumbing pipes


Elmer’s ProBond Advanced Glue


Step 1:  Figure out the spacing

Our spool was 32” in diameter.

We evenly spaced out the pipes around the base of the spool.

I wanted to have space for larger books so we spaced them roughly 8 1/2 inches apart.


Step 2:  Mark spacing and drill holes

Using a drill bit slightly larger than the pipe, drill holes where you have marked.

Our holes were then about 8 1/2” apart.


Step 3:  Drill holes on the top

Using your pipe and the bottom hole as a guide….mark holes on the underside of the top of the spool.

Drill holes where you have marked.

And here’s the trick that makes the project so easy.

All you have to do is drill the holes at the top deeper than the bottom holes.

Your pipe will fit into those holes and then slide into the bottom holes…

….without ever having to remove the top.


Step 4:  Repeat for all pipes

When you are done your pipe should look like this.

Repeat for each of the nine pipes.

Then glue all pipes in place with Pro-Bond Advanced Glue.

Let dry according to directions.


Step 5:  Add casters

After project is finished….flip over and add casters to the bottom.

We added three casters to the bottom.


From the home improvement aisle to a one-of-a-kind bookcase.

The finished project sits proudly in the front foyer with books and an armillary.

It only took the weekend to finish…not long at all….

….considering all those basketball game breaks we had to schedule 🙂

Disclosure:  I was compensated by Elmer’s ProBond Advanced Glue for this post.

But all opinions are 100% mine.

Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

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  1. Now that is an awesome bookcase!

  2. So cool. I just love it and your vision.

  3. You may not have heard but I’m stockpiling wood spools, we have 6 now. A bookcase was not something I considered, till now, but then again neither was the Christmas tree I made from one. Free as well, and delivered right to my yard. I only had one person to ‘splain too.

  4. HA! Love your story…you would think the Home Depot employees get requests for spools all the time:) Nice bookcase- you do have vision!

  5. KariAnne,
    You crack me up! I did not click and read this post because I have dreamed of Spool bookcases, Spools of thread or anything similar, but because you write with such a way…….like a nail biting, page turning, sit on the edge of your seat, I can’t take a bathroom break, kind of suspense!

    Totally…..and why are you not writing books? Oh yes, yes, yes, that whole need for sleep thing, allrighty then.
    Well missy, finding your blog has been the best ray of sunshine in my, sometimes, dull life!

    Ok, please amuse me for a second. When someone posts a question in the comment section of a blog, must they return to that particular post to see if there was a response?
    Thank you funny, creative wonder,
    Megan W.

  6. Never a spool but many times. My former spouse still talks about how many times he swallowed hard and said “OK”. Congratulations on your find. It looks great. So does what I can see of your home. So clean!!

  7. Miz karianne… promised, this is great! Have to tell you that, in addition to your local lumber yard/home improvement center store, your local electric company and any place that uses large amounts of wire, always has wood spools. Some are in abundance! And depending upon which company it is, there might even be various sizes of spools available. woohoo! Most of these places will give them to you, but a few may charge a small fee.
    Good job on this book case. I can see it finished in chalk paint. By the way, these spools make great outdoor tables, too.

  8. Truly inspiring! I think there is going to be a run on spools at home improvement centers. In fact, I fear there will be a line of women stalking the aisles and asking when will there be a free spool available.

  9. Fabulous ;-). So creative.. Well done!


    You just crack me up!!!!!Wish I could have been there at that storehaha!!!LOVE your bookshelf,it is AWESOME!!! 🙂

  11. I had my morning smile. What a wonderful idea and great looking too.

  12. I would LOVE to go shopping with you at a home improvement store! That would be one FUN trip!
    KariAnne, you always put a smile on my face 🙂
    Love the bookshelf!

  13. Love it!! And it looks PERFECT in your entry! Hmmm . . . I hope the home improvement stores don’t decide they can start SELLING these kinds of treasures! LOL 🙂

    SPRING!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  14. THIS IS AMAZING…and I totally want one…because my hubby must be getting like, totally bored just lying around, watching basketball all night 🙂
    Thanks for your vision!!! I’m off to all the home improvement stores in the county 🙂
    (p.s. I just sent you a personal email re what I think is a sponsored post opportunity…would love if you have time to reply)

  15. This is so cleaver… Love it… Great Idea

  16. I LOVE it! I’m so impressed that you immediately knew what you wanted to do with the spool. My problem is that I see a diamond in the rough, but can’t think of what to create with it. So, I end up passing it by.

  17. As your stash of cards in your vignettes say, “BINGO.” Your creative ideas never cease to amaze me. The spool bookcase is so industrial, but so magnificent.
    My Daddy brought similar spools home from his shop when I was little. My sister and I had GREAT tables for our pretend houses (of course we were always playing outside back then).

  18. Well, lucky for him….the spool is done…and now he can spend the whole weekend watching basketball games! What a great idea…so innovative Karianne! I would have seen the spool and spent hours trying to come up with something clever, other than a table. And yes…I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall! Have a wonderful weekend! 😉

  19. Now I hope you will show the store employees your great project, so they will completely change their attitudes and “looks of wonder” . . and know that they were dealing with a genius!…Too cool and clever Kari!!…Happy Spring and have a great weekend!

  20. Give it to me!

  21. I love it, you and your husband did a great job. I would loved to have seen you at the store telling the employees what you were going to do with the spool. Very nice!

  22. That is so cool! !!

  23. Karianne, you painted such a wonderful picture of what took place at the home improvement store that I could literally see the movie playing in my head. I love your enthusiasm and creativity. The bookshelf looks awesome!

  24. Hahahahaha.. I can woo see the look on your husband’s face. Why, because I see it on mine a lot. 🙂
    Nice book case!
    Hugs, Hee

  25. you my dear are a mad genius. this looks amazing!

  26. My hubby saw a store employee wheeling one of those out to the trash, and he asked if he could have it… so he wheeled it out to his van instead! LOL Ours isn’t in great shape — so we’ll probably just use it for a table out at our fire pit.

  27. Seriously amazing! I would have done the same thing, – except I would have taken it home, let it sit in the garage for a year or more until I finally had the inspiration to do something creative with it! I love it!

  28. Sheryll & Critters. :

    Oh so clever and so cute. We have been.. errr not me….. been doing this for years .. probably longer than you are old and I love it. I just never happen to happen on any such that are free for me to grab. Then too, no cutie, sweet, darling, ever so loving husband to scoop it up and bring it home for me.

    You lucky, sweet, adorable girl and wife and mommy.

  29. Sheryll & Critters. :

    Ooops, we mostly made tables out of them and stools…….. your booktablecase is over the top!!

  30. OK, so apparently I’m the only commenter so far who had to Google “armillary”. My vocabulary has just improved.

    LOVE the bookcase. I love books and reading and I love innovation and new ways to store books so of course this would be a win with me. I predict in a year Hobby Lobby will be selling spool bookcases a la Karianne in the aisle right next to armillaries.

  31. At least he can listen to the games in between drilling. Wish I had one – perfect use of “free wood.”

  32. Very creative, Karianne! I would think that your husband trusts your ideas by now. : ) I think you should take a picture of this back to the home improvement store and show them what you did with it. Although, they might start charging people for them!

  33. LOVE IT!!!! I want one!!! (whining) 🙂

  34. Teresa H. Fields :

    This is awesome, not just the project, but the whole situation. I am sitting at a restaurant trying not to laugh out loud or spit anything out of my mouth. Plan to make my husband read this because of basketball reference. We bleed blue in ky, and live a rock throw or two from that college. Sweet father-in-law is retired from said school. I don’t dare mention a project needing major assistance in March!

  35. Of course that’s what they were thinking! Brilliant!

  36. Your Cutie is very lucky to have you — a creative genius. We had a spool once and we certainly didn’t care for it as well as you did yours. No one can have enough bookcases — especially those that hold those huge tomes! Great idea KariAnne!!

  37. OK… it’s official, YOU ARE BRILLIANT!!!!
    AND, your husband may be a Saint as well as a cutie 🙂

  38. I’m so, so jealous!!! I love this project.

    I have recently decided my next car should be a big ol’ truck because I am constantly having to pass by amazing pieces that I just know I could make into something wonderful because I have no way to get them to my house. Of course, after I got them to my house, I would still have to figure out how to get them up my stairs but at least half the battle would be won.


  39. Super cute!

  40. Hi
    At first I thought you used spools as support the board to make bookcase. After I saw a picture of your spool bookcase. Wow, it s a COOL idea! I surely missed spools! Why? Because…..
    It reminded me when I was single mom, went to college full time & worked part time. We moved from west coast to east coast which was expensive to move my furniture. We lived in apartment in VA. We saw a huge spool sitting outside beside the trash. Someone must had threw it away it & it was too big to haul it into dump trash. We need dining room table BADLY. It took 4 people to haul very heavy spool up to 3rd floor apt. We made it. Whew! Put pretty vinyl table cloth over it. Then later on we found small spools outside. Think it s from telephone company. We used it as sitting chairs. After 8 years, we moved back to west coast, we left these spools outside. 🙁 Before we left the apt, the spools were disappeared (gone). . We knew immediately it found a home. :).
    Really any size of spool can become useful furniture. I thanks God for the trash that can be useful & save college student money like I used to be!

  41. I can imagine this scenario playing out. Funny, funny! In LOVE with the book shelf…I need a spool now!

  42. Love your creativity! And love that your sweet husband jumped on the crazy train with you, probably because he knows your destination will be amazing! Most of all I love that someone else leaves home improvement store employees agape and scratching their heads! And free is my favorite price point!

    You Rock! Have an outstanding weekend!

  43. I love it, Karianne…I remember having a spool end table (not nearly as great as yours) in our first apartment in 1972…

  44. OK. So cough it up.

    What really happened? I can’t even talk them out of left over cardboard boxes.

    Jeez Louise you crack me up. Great project btw 🙂

  45. CariAnne….AWESOME idea!!!! You happened to be in the right place at the right time!!!
    You’re so fortunate to have a hubby that helps you with “projects”!! My hubby is great,
    but don’t give him a “project”! Thankfully, I’m pretty handy! Thanks for sharing! xo

  46. Is there anyway for me to possibly explain how much I love this? A dream, truly a dream to find a free spool! Lucky lady.

  47. You’re a genius, I tell ya! I look at those spools and only see the classic picnic table. You look at them and see worlds open up. Dang, could you send some of your genious-ness to me? Geniosity? Smarts.

  48. Nancy Brantley :

    All I can say is WOW. You are amazing. What can’t you do. You are so brilliant. It would be trash for me and you made a nice book stand that looks so good.

  49. Gosh, you’re cute. I just like to get caught up in your enthusiasm for…whatever? As I’ve said before, I don’t know how to make anything. I just read your blog for the stories. This was a fun one!

  50. I just love this idea. So perfect for lots of places in the home. I can see it now in my sewing room. Another way to have my sewing books right under my sewing machine and serger while I work on my projects. Now I just have to figure out how I’m going to get the spool up the stairs and through the narrow door way. I’ll find a way though for sure. Thanks for the great idea and instructions.

  51. Love it! I really like the print all over its top. Looks fabulous. Great idea.

  52. OH M GEE!!!! This is super awesome fantabulous!!!!!!! You so rocked this one my friend and yes…it is and you are (wait for it…….) AMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sending tons of hugs…

  53. Maybe those home improvement guys will understand when copies of this bookcase start showing up in Target!

  54. Absolutely love it, and YES! I get that “look” a lot… Glad you got the spool for free and it really looks fab in that entry!

  55. Good morning KariAnne! I love your spool bookcase and am sharing it, and your Salted Cocoa Nutella Cupcakes, on my ‘Weekly Wonders’ post this morning. The first time I’ve featured two posts by the same blogger! Thank you for all of the inspiration. ~Lisa

  56. Great vision…great project…great execution with a great result!! Love it!
    BTW: Your husband sounds like a great fella…no way would mine let me take home a giant spool for any purpose…he’s already shaking his head at my creative projects slowly taking over the house!! LOL

  57. I love it! And your wit and humor once again, love it!

  58. I love the book case! I had 2 of the wooden spools years ago one was a coffee table one did hold books! I got rid of them thinking I was tired of them. Dumb of me as I have been surching for one for a while but can not find one . Mine were given to me from a friend whoa brother worked for the phone company that’s how long ago I had them.

  59. Your description of what the employees were thinking was EXACTLY what they think about my hubby all the time. Bless his heart, he learned early on not to ask why I was hauling something home. As long as the project is completed in some sort of a timely manner he is so good about helping me get it finished. The only stipulation is that I try not to schedule projects during A&M football. Otherwise, we are in good shape.
    This is such a cool way to reuse/renew/recycle – I love the way you looked outside of the box with it!

  60. There wasn’t much interest with this project, so I thought I should chime in… 🙂 In fact, I may have already. But twice can’t hurt, can it?! Just HAVE to feature it this weekend on Party Junk since your hubby had to work through all those games and all…

  61. This is fantastic!! I had to laugh when you described how you acquired your piece. It brought back so many memories similar to your experience…lol. I love how you created two totally functional items from this. GENIUS!! I may have to re-think my spool as I just have it sitting outside with the adirondack chairs as a table! I had to tell you too that I made a scrap wood letter similar to your W! I love it. Thanks for the great inspiration! Cheers.

  62. This is so beautiful absolutely love it! LOL loved how you got it too, I can just see the blank stares – I’ve had that happen to me at the home improvement store more times then I can remember! You did a fantastic job on this, it’s stunning!