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I’ve wanted pretty bookends as far back as primary school, when I was that little nerdy kid who spent all of lunchtime lost in a book. I’m not sure why I’ve always wanted them. All I know is that they’ve been on my home decor wishlist for a very long time. This year, I decided to get serious about finding some bookends. I searched for months for the perfect ones (reasonably price + in a style that matches farmhouse decor) without any success. Eventually, I realised that I was going to have to make my own DIY bookends to get what I wanted. I just had to find the right thing to use as a bookend.
Enter Christmas decorations.
Last week, while
engaging in some mindless retail therapy responsibly browsing Christmas decor at Target, I found these gold reindeer heads. The moment I saw them, I knew that – with a little customisation – they’d make the perfect accent piece for my DIY bookends. So I immediately snapped them up and got to work.
Making your own bookends is actually so easy, I don’t know why I didn’t try it earlier. If you can use a can of spray paint and glue two things together, you can make your own custom bookends with just a few minutes of work (as well as a few boring hours waiting for the spray paint to dry).
So, you’ve probably had enough of my yammering. Let’s get to the tutorial.
How to make your own DIY bookends
To make your own bookends, you will need:
- Two metal L-shaped bookends. Here are some reasonably priced ones.
- Two deer heads. If you’re outside Australia, check the Christmas section in discount stores like Dollar Tree for something similar.
- Metal primer. I personally use and love Dulux’s Duramax primer. If this is not available in your area, I’ve heard good things about Rust-Oleum’s metal primer.
- Metallic spray pain (I used Rust-Oleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze). This project would also look super cute done with a spray paint chalk paint.
- Sealant. I personally use and love Rust-Oleum’s Satin Clear 2x Ultra Cover spray paint, as it provides a beautiful finish.
- Gorilla Glue.
Step 1: Apply primer to your deer heads and metal bookends
To begin, apply a coat of metal primer to your bookends and deer head. Each brand of primer has slightly different instructions regarding application and drying time, so it’s best to follow what the can says rather than listen to me, a stranger on the internet.
If you’re wondering if priming is absolutely necessary, let me answer with a resounding YES. I am honestly the world’s laziest DIYer and love cutting corners, but I always prime metal before spray painting it. Do you want to know why? Because one time, I spray painted an entire bed over the course of a few days, only to have the spray paint chip off when I rubbed the bed frame even slightly. So I had to sand the bed down and do the entire thing all over again. You don’t come back from an experience like that.
Step 2: Spray paint your deer heads and metal bookends
Once your primer is dry, apply your first coat of spray paint, following the directions on the can. You can really use any colour or type of spray paint you like. I used Rust-Oleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze. I think these bookends would also look cute painted with spray paint chalk paint.
Leave to dry.
Once your first coat of spray paint is dry, apply a second coat to touch up any spots you missed.
Step 3: Glue the pieces of your DIY bookends together
Once your bookends have dried, it’s time to glue the deer heads to the metal bookends.
Now, maybe you’re thinking: “Wait, shouldn’t I have glued them before I painted them?”
You can definitely do that. I just personally found that it was much easier to get proper paint coverage at the back of the deer heads before they were squished up against some bookends.
To assemble your bookends, grab some Gorilla Glue. Gorilla Glue provides an absolutely amazing hold for projects like this. If this is your first time using the stuff, just be aware of two things:
- Gorilla Glue will stick with a vengeance to your fingers if you don’t wipe it off ASAP. Have you ever had your fingers stuck together after using super glue? Imagine that, but about 10 times worse. The last time I left Gorilla Glue on my thumb, I had to use an orbital sander to remove it so I could use the TouchID feature on my phone. This stuff sticks.
- Gorilla Glue expands like crazy as it dries. Less is more.
With these two things in mind, apply a very thin coat of Gorilla Glue to the bottom of your deer head. Then, press the head on to your bookend and use a paper towel or rag to remove any glue that seeps out from under the deer head. Leave to dry.
Step 4: Apply your top coat to your bookends
Once the Gorilla Glue has dried, use a top coat to seal the paint on your bookends.
Once your top coat has dried, your DIY bookends are complete! Here are a couple of pictures of my bookends:
I hope you found this post useful and were inspired to make your own pretty bookends!