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S21 E8: Little Free Library

Kevin and Tom build a Little Free Library for an elementary school; Tom recruits his daughter, Kate, to paint it; Tom and Kevin then install the library with some help from the students.

Previous episode: S21 E7 | Next episode: Posting on Jan 9, 8am ET

In this episode:

Host Kevin O’Connor and general contractor Tom Silva shirk the typical house call and head to local Brookside Elementary school to meet some students. After speaking with the school principal, they find out the school needs a Free Little Library—a small book lending station accessible at all times of the day throughout the year.

Tom and Kevin meet with a classroom full of students and talk about the designs the students came up with for the Free Little Library. With tons of designs in hand (a library shaped like a school bus), the two head back to the shop and get to work bringing the students’ ideas to life.

First, Tom builds a set of templates for the school bus box from MDF (medium-density fiberboard). After transferring some of the template’s marks to a piece of MDO (medium density overlay design for outdoor use), he cuts out the rough shape with a track and jig saw. Next, he uses a router and several bits to cut out the windows, using the template as a guide to ensure everything is aligned.

After cutting out the windows, Tom cuts rabbets around the windows to hold the pieces of plexiglass in place. Next, Tom cuts pieces of plexiglass to size on a table saw before rounding the corners with a belt sander. With the windows and glass sorted, Tom gets to work cutting the doors out of one of the side pieces. He then installs piano hinges before assembling the box with a brad nailer, finishing the job off with the roof, a set of wheels and headlights, and earth magnets to keep the door shut.

But the job’s not finished. Tom’s daughter Kate chips in, helping Tom sand the box and painting the bus an appropriate shade of yellow. Kate then applies lettering and decals to give it a ready-for-school look. After applying silicone and some pushpins to hold the glass in place, the job is done.

With the Little Free Library bus finished, Tom and Kevin take it back to Brookside to install it. With the help of several of the children, Tom and Kevin dig a hole for the post and fill it with stone. Finally, the two sit the bus on top of the post and secure it, giving the kids access to free books for years to come.


How to Build a Little Free Library

Host Kevin O’Connor and general contractor Tom Silva visit a local school. The pair enlist the help of Tom’s daughter, Kate, to build a Little Free Library.

How to Install a Little Free Library

Host Kevin O’Connor and general contractor Tom Silva install Brookside Elementary School’s new library with the help of several of the school children.

Where to find it?

Tom and Kevin build a free library at the studio for Brookside Elementary School. Then, Tom and Kate paint and decorate it. Finally, Kevin and Tom return to the school to install the little free library.

Original Air Date: Nov 17, 2022, Season 21; Ep. 8 23:42