How to Create Invisible Shelves

Add some cool to your pad on the cheap! Invisible book shelves not only create a stylish hover effect, but also save money and space. To create invisible book shelves, follow these instructions.


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    Choose a suitable book that you won't want to read ever again. This will become the "sacrificial" book that makes the shelf. Since it will be supporting other books, a large, hardcover book works best.
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    Trace an L-bracket onto the inside of the book.
    • Open the sacrificial book's back cover and use your tape measure to find the halfway point.
    • Make a mark at the halfway point on the page.
    • Place a flat side of the L-bracket onto the page and trace the outline, using the marks you drew to keep it centered. If the bracket’s screw holes are also centered, line them up with the marks to make this easier.
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    Cut notches for the L-bracket into the book.
    • Use your utility knife to cut into the pages of the book following the outline of the bracket. Make sure to cut deeply enough so the back cover of the book can be closed tight against the pages when the bracket is inserted.
    • Recycle the excised paper.
    • Place the L-bracket into the notch, making sure that the vertical bar of the “L” is pointing in the direction of the front cover of the book. This will enable you to flip the whole thing over and hang it right-side-up when it’s ready.
    • Make a notch in the top edge of the book for the L-bracket. This way the book can sit flush against the wall.
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    Screw the book to the bracket.
    • Get your drill out and drill through the holes in the L-bracket.
    • Screw the L-bracket to the book. The pages will rise up the screw as you insert it, so use your hand to hold the pages down.
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    Secure the pages so that the book sits perfectly flat.
    • Drill two holes near the outside corners of the book, one on each side.
    • Secure the pages by inserting screws into the holes.
    • Cover the inside back cover of the book in glue and close it.
    • Place a stack of books or some other type of weight on top and let it dry at least 8 to 12 hours. Unless you want the back cover of the book to flap open after you hang the shelf, cheating at this stage is not advisable.
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    Find a wall stud. This is a vertical beam in the wall into which you can screw the L-bracket. To find it, knock along the wall until you find a place that doesn’t sound hollow. Another way to find a stud is to use a stud finder.
    • If drilling into a stud isn’t ideal or won’t work in your house, use anchor screws instead. These are suitable for both drywall and plaster walls. Make note of how much weight the anchor screws are rated to hold so that you don’t overload the shelf.
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    Mount the bracket to the wall using the large wood screws. To keep the shelf level, screw the bracket with a single screw at first, place a level across the book, make any necessary adjustments, and secure the shelf with a second screw.
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    Stack books on the shelf. To hide the L-bracket, stack them up high, preferably from largest to smallest. Now let your friends try to figure it out.
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  • The more weight you have on the book while waiting for the glue to dry, the better. This will ensure that all the pages are pressed against each other and improve the overall look of the finished product.
  • Check used book stores for books that have visual appeal if you don't want to part with any in your personal library. Using classified ads or Craigslist to find a set of old encyclopedias is another way to acquire old, stable books, especially if you’re building more than one shelf and want design continuity.
  • When cutting the book, avoid injury by cutting away from your body and use a flat and stable surface to rest on. Also, be sure that the surface is protected to prevent damage to an item of furniture in case you slip.
  • You can also use a Dremel (or other similar tool) to cut out the notch in the edge of the book. This is both safer and faster than using a knife.
  • If you don’t want to sacrifice a book, use two L-brackets (both long enough to fully support a large bottom book), space them an appropriate distance apart, install them (using anchor screws if they don’t align with wall studs), and simply stack the books on top. Note that this system will not be completely invisible when placed at or above eye level.
  • You can use two brackets if you're worried about stability, but make sure the brackets are spaced the same distance in the book as the studs are in the wall.


  • Be careful to center the weight of each book on the bracket; a sudden or severe imbalance will rip the L-bracket from the pages of the support book. Use two L-brackets if you are concerned about this possibility.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 large, hardcover book that you'll never read again but looks good on the wall
  • 1 L-bracket (at least 2/3 as long as the width of the sacrificial book to fully support its center of gravity)
  • 1 utility knife
  • 1 drill
  • 1 Phillips-head or flathead screwdriver
  • 5 small wood screws
  • 3 large wood screws
  • 1 tape measure
  • 1 bottle of Elmer's glue or strong craft glue
  • 5 (or so) books to shelve

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