Faux Card Catalog Bookcase

I love libraries and can get lost in one (willingly) for hours.  There was a great feeling to thumb through a card catalog to see if they had the book you wanted to read and after finding it’s location, you’d set out on the ultimate journey– to find the book.  As libraries converted to digital card catalogs, a few savvy buyers snatched up the card catalog relics. As much as I love them, I hated their non-existent practicality.  I don’t need a piece of furniture with 30 small drawers, I need a real drawer with space to hold something wider than a CD case.  Then I stumbled on one a person converted and told Greg we could do that. Sure, he didn’t have as much faith as I did but just look at the Before/After– I think we nailed it. faux card catalog DIYThree and a half months after the chest of drawers entered our home, we finally finished converting it to a bookcase with faux card catalog front and it’s love– just look at those drawer fronts (hardware by D.Lawless Hardware).  I wanted a piece of fun furniture for my new office and something that wasn’t just a bookcase from Target.  Our completed bookcase added personality and life into the room, along with a sense of whimsy.  It reminded me of endless hours at the library and getting lost in a book. faux card catalog bookcase-6 Sure, my office isn’t anywhere near done but I have this lovely piece of furniture to highlight one of my favorite things from this year– the watercolor of my Grandmom’s house from The Art of Michelle and our engagement picture by April Ziegler Photography.  No matter what, this bookcase is a sign of progress in one of our slowest moving projects ever. faux card catalog bookcase-8 We found the ideal piece of furniture at Impact Thrift when we went for a different office furniture related purchase.  Walking around, we stumbled upon this dresser for the whopping price of $60.  Both of us loved the rounded edging but then Greg opened the bottom drawer to reveal a hidden cedar chest.

Ahhh, cedar chest!!

Ahhh, cedar chest!!

We knew we had to have it since you can’t find furniture like this anymore.  One coupon later, the chest was ours for $45.  Add $35 in hardware, $30 in paint, another $25 in wood and you have an amazing custom piece of furniture.  Now you can do it too and I’ll tell you how.

What You Will Need

Dresser Miter saw Brass Knobs
Clamps Nail gun Cup pull label holders
Circular saw Wood glue Primer
Crow bar Wood filler Paint
Rubber Mallet 4″ lattice strips Fabric
Caulk 1/4″ plywood Batting
Sander 1/2″ half round trim Foam Core

1. Find a dresser which meets your desired dimensions.  When picking a dresser, look at the drawers and determine how the height/length will work for your faux card catalog front. For example– do you want more square drawers fronts with fewer pulls or do you want it similar to mine with a more traditional size card catalog front. faux card catalog DIY 2. Buy your dresser.  We loved this chest due to the trim going around it and how the bottom drawer was a mini cedar chest. 3. We wanted to turn the top into a bookcase, to do that we removed the top two drawers.  If you don’t want to turn it into a bookcase, skip this step.  To remove the support systems, we used the crow bar to gently ease everything out.  You don’t want to go all Wreck-It Ralph on the chest because you want to maintain the integrity of the piece. faux card catalog DIY 4. Once you are finished, you will have a structure that looks like this. Wood fill and sand any holes in the bookcase area.  Repeat the wood fill/sanding any scrapes/dents/dings in the outside of the piece. faux card catalog bookcase-4 Side note: Ignore the completed drawers, my instructions differ from how we completed it.  If it wasn’t the middle of winter when starting it, we would have followed it this way. 5. As you can see from the above picture, we need to do two things– extend the bookcase ledge to meet the edge of the drawer and to create a flat surface for the shelf base. 6. We installed a piece of lumber (trimmed to fit length and width).  Cut and nail in place. faux card catalog bookcase-2 7. Then we measure the inside base to cut our piece of 1/4″ plywood.  We had extra plywood from the bathroom refresh and cut it using the circular saw. Nail in place. faux card catalog bookcase-18faux card catalog bookcase-3 8. Add trim to hide the edges of the plywood and lumber.  We wanted to add decorative trim to match the trim on the chest, so we measured the depth needed for the trim when cutting out the piece of lumber and plywood.  We nailed the trim after installing the plywood. 9. Wood fill/sand again! 10. It to start on the drawers– decided your faux drawer size.  To determine the size, I played around with paper I had and it helped me visualize what each front would look like. 11. Remove all hardware. 12. Wood fill/sand the holes. faux card catalog bookcase-22 13. Cut your faux fronts and one extra.  We used 4″ lattice which meant we just needed to cut it with the miter saw to the desired length.  The extra one will act as a template when you install the hardware.  Don’t skip it because it will save you time. faux card catalog DIY 14. After you cut the fronts, you will need to sand down the corners and edges to give it a worn look.  As you can see from the picture below, the sanded piece (bottom) looks much nicer and more finished than the raw edge (top). faux card catalog bookcase-9 faux card catalog bookcase-19 15. If you’re like me and completely excited about the project, you’ll want to see what the drawer will look like with the fronts and hardware– play around with it.  Ahhh it’s love already. faux card catalog DIY 16. Not going to lie or sugar coat it, gluing the fronts was our least favorite party of the entire project. To start draw a line down the center and find the drawer’s center point. faux card catalog bookcase-11 17. To keep everything even and straight, we propped the drawer sideways on the island.  We clamped a yard stick down the center to ensure even spacing between the “drawers”.  Then we determined the distance we wanted each “drawer”- the width of two paint stirrers.  After we determined all of this (using math to find the extra space all around and divide it evenlyish), we started gluing. 18. Apply a small amount of glue and use a level to verify straightness.  Clamp in place.  The whole reason the drawer is up like this is because we used Ms. Level on each “drawer”. faux card catalog bookcase-12 19. Over the course of several days, glue/clamp all the “drawers”. 20. Realize that you picked a very complicated project. 21. Drink a few beers and avoid the project. 22. Prime everything (two coats)!  We used BIN primer due to other bloggers loving it– be aware, it’s very runny. faux card catalog bookcase-13 23. Start painting.  We used Benjamin Moore Advance paint which is highly durable and meant for cabinets.  The only downside to the paint besides costs is the 16 hour wait time between coats. faux card catalog DIY24. Question bloggers after first coat due to it not looking good. 25. Apply the second coat.  Still question the bloggers and google the paint. 26. Apply third coat and be overly happy with how it looks.  Dance to Pharrell Williams because your happy. 27. Remember the template piece you cut in step 13?  Well, go find it because it’s time to apply hardware.  Place the hardware on the template and mark where you need to drill.  Drill your holes. faux card catalog bookcase-14 28. Mark holes on each “drawer” and start drilling. faux card catalog bookcase-15 29. Screw in your hardware.  We thought this would be a quick afternoon project– three hours later, we were still at it. faux card catalog bookcase-17 30. Time for the bookcase backing. Measure the back of the bookcase and deduct a quarter inch from the length and width. 31. Cut the foam core to that size 32. Wrap in batting and staple gun down.  Test it in the bookcase to ensure the fit. faux card catalog DIY 33. Wrap it in fabric and staple it down. faux card catalog DIY 34. Insert backing, add the drawers. faux card catalog bookcase-20 35. Sit back and realize you nailed it like the Bellas at Finals.


24 thoughts on “Faux Card Catalog Bookcase

  1. Thanks so much for the link! The project looks great! We’d love to work with you on a few future projects if you are interested. Just hit me up at the e-mail I’m filling in below. Thanks again!

  2. Absolutely brilliant. I can really relate to loving the library and flicking through the card index. For that part alone I volunteered to be a lunch time school librarian when I was 14/15. I am going to save this project as a definite possible. It was well worth all of your effort. Fab! I love Pinterest. It’s opened up a huge world to 7. Here I am in England admiring a project done in America (?).

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  4. Looks fantastic!! Could you please tell me what the dimensions are of the original dresser? That would be great! thanks

  5. Pingback: 25 Bookish Crafts to Get Excited for Summer Reading at Hands Occupied

  6. I love your faux card catalog. You are very talented! I found the link for the card holders but not for the brass knobs. I tried to search the D Lawless site but didn’t have any luck. Can you please post the link for the knobs? Thanks.

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