Curious about books?

We have a post for you today from a new contributor and all around power tool gal – my baby sister Marissa Garner! I’m always amazed by her artistic skills and her ability to redesign furniture and other thrift store finds. I’m so happy she has agreed to share some of her mad skills here every once in a while! Today she is teaching us a little about scroll saws – which she used in creating Anthro inspired book letters. – Candice

Book Letters are a fun way to add color and personality to your home and they are surprisingly easy!

You’ll need:

  • Book
  • Scroll saw (I hear a band saw also works)
  • painter’s tape
  • paper, pencil, scissors

I started by hitting up a couple of local thrift stores and garage sales to find cute and colorful books.  My personal favorites are the Reader’s Digest books because of the colors, patterns, and size.


Now comes the easy part, you need to make a pattern for your Letter.  You want the outside of the Letter to touch the edges of your book like I did here (picture).  Some letters are easy to draw on your own, like the letter “M” but others are a little trickier.  I got on the computer for the “G” and since my printer wasn’t working I traced it right off the screen.  Just make sure your letter covers only part of the book spine to keep it intact.  After I cut my pattern out, I used painter’s tape to attach it to the cover.  Even for simple letters like “L” you’ll want a pattern to follow, trust me you need the guide.  It doesn’t hurt to tape a piece of paper to the back of your book too to avoid scratching and dirtying your cover.


If you’re new to the world of power tools, a scroll saw is a great place to start.  I was a little nervous stepping into this world myself but there’s no need to be intimidated because I’ll fill you in on what I learned.  For starters a scroll saw is perfect for the job because it can handle more intricate design/curves than other saws (like the band saw for instance).  It is small enough to store on a shelf in your garage and it is surprisingly inexpensive compared to most large power tools.  The other great thing about a scroll saw is the drop foot.  It comes down acting as a clamp for your book and a safety guard for your fingers. I recommend wearing a dust mask, safety glasses, and ear plugs while operating the saw.


First, make sure your drop foot is clamped down on your book tight to minimize bouncing.  I always start cutting out the center of the letter so I have the corners to hold on to and help maneuver the turns.  With a scroll saw you have to go very slow, pushing the book gently or you’ll dull your blade too quickly and make your machine bounce and bump.  I started with the easiest letter, “L”, to get a feel for the machine and worked my way up to the curvy letters like “S”. If you have a hole in the middle of your letter like “R” or “B” you will need to use a drill to make a hole for your blade to be threaded thru and then you cut as usual from there.  The finer blades work better on paper and curves.  I can get through three or four books before my blade seems too dull and I have to switch it.  For this letter “G” I got lazy and tried using a dull blade but it was slower and harder to make the turns.  You can see that I couldn’t keep to my pattern and I ended up putting on a new blade and going back to fix it.  Also, it left a bit of a frayed edge in spots and I wanted a cleaner look.  You can use a fine grit sand paper to clean up your edges but I usually don’t have to with a sharp blade.


Voila! Now that you’re done remove the taped on paper, dust it off, and display it in your house.  If you want to hang it on your wall use mod podge to glue your covers down and then glue the edges of the paper with your book closed.

Don’t forget it enter the amazing giveaway! You could win a Jo Totes camera bag, a new Nikon D3100 and a seat in Candice’s online DSLR class!

13 thoughts on “Curious about books?

  1. I love this! I would have to get my husband to do the cutting for me as this is one power tool I don’t know how to use and have too much respect for not to mess around with!

    1. No way, you can totally do this! I have no prior power tool experience and it really is as easy as I described here.

  2. I love these anthropologie letters. I wanted to DIY one myself however I’ve been too intimidated by the power tools. Maybe I should just employ my husband for the job!

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