DIY Book Letters

DIY Vintage Book Letters | The Merrythought
While we’ve all got back to school on the brain (my boys start today), here’s a fun DIY with letters. A couple years ago I saw a photo of some old books cut into letters and knew it was a project I had to try (and by “I”, I mean Mike with assistance from me. 😉 ) . I started looking for vintage books with nice covers while out thrifting and soon had a nice stash (once Caitlin clued me in on a little secret…look under the paper covers!  The Reader’s Digest Condensed Books have nice covers and are pretty easy to find).  I decided that I wanted to make one for each of the boys and one for our living room, plus a few for gifts.
We actually made our first one for my sister, Lyndsay, for her birthday back in February.  I loved how it turned out  – and I think she did too.  They’re perfect for gift giving, I think they’d make a nice teacher gift too.
(And I am aware that this is now a product Anthropologie carries…when I brought this project up at our blog planning meeting, Caitlin mentioned that she had seen these on Anthro. So there’s always the option to buy if you can’t DIY!)
DIY Book Letters | The Merrythought
DIY Vintage Book Letters | The Merrythought
What you need:

  • Book
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Scroll Saw

How to do it:

  • Measure the size of your book.
  • On your computer, using a word processing or design program (I used Adobe InDesign), make a document the size of your book.
  • Type the letter you want and pick a font you like the look of. Try to pick a font that has a flat side and is wide along the bottom. This will help make your book sturdier. Size the font to fit your document, which should be the size of your book.
  • Print your letter and cut it out.
  • Trace the letter on the front cover of the book.
  • Using the scroll saw, cut the book following the lines you traced. (Save the scraps for another project!)
  • Brush off the dust and enjoy your handiwork.

(You can always just skip the computer part and freehand a letter. Or use a stencil if you happen to have stencils the same size as the book you’re using.)
DIY Book Letters | The Merrythought

Go thrift some books and get cutting!


  • TracyThursday, September 5, 2013 - 12:13 pm

    What a creative idea, I love these! We would love to have you share this our Saturday Link Party. It starts Fridays at 3pm, hope to see you there!


  • StephanieFriday, September 6, 2013 - 8:54 am

    I LOVE these! What a great idea. Now I just need to find myself a scroll saw.ReplyCancel

  • MandaSaturday, September 7, 2013 - 8:43 pm

    Well Steph, I just might happen to know a guy with one. 😉 Come on over with your books!ReplyCancel

  • Angie JohnsonWednesday, October 23, 2013 - 8:42 pm

    First of all, I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen someone spell my sister’s name the same as her! Lyndsay! I know that may sound silly, but It’s true:) Thanks for the great directions! I’ve been wanting to do this and just got a box of The Reader’s Digest books today that I ordered off of e-bay! Can’t wait to start!ReplyCancel

    • MandaFriday, October 25, 2013 - 3:50 pm

      Hi Angie – yes, there are so many variations on how to spell my sister’s name. I rarely see anyone spell it like hers though – so neat that your sister spells it the same way! Hope your books turn out wonderful – have fun cutting! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • AngieSaturday, November 9, 2013 - 1:35 pm

    What font type did you use for your books?ReplyCancel

    • MandaSunday, November 10, 2013 - 8:15 pm

      I actually used 3 different fonts for each of these letters – I was just going through and picking based on what looked best for each letter in the size I needed for my books. My “M” is Nexa Bold, my “C” is Abraham Lincoln and my “L” is Capitals. Hope that helps.ReplyCancel

  • Christine SchweitzSaturday, February 8, 2014 - 8:30 pm

    What type of blade do you use?ReplyCancel

    • MandaSunday, February 9, 2014 - 10:39 pm

      Hi Christine. I think it was a regular tooth, 15 TPI blade.ReplyCancel

      • Christine SchweitzSunday, February 9, 2014 - 11:49 pm

        Thank you! We’d like to give it a try.ReplyCancel

  • Vivian CrumpFriday, April 4, 2014 - 2:17 pm

    I have 22 Readers Digest books and would like to sell them. I’m in Dalton, Georgia 30721 and could ship them
    anyone interested please contact me by email vcrump@windstream.netReplyCancel

  • Diana BoolWednesday, June 25, 2014 - 1:37 pm

    I really want to make these, but I don’t have those fonts on my computer! Is there any way I could order a copy of your stencils? ThanksReplyCancel

    • MandaWednesday, June 25, 2014 - 9:52 pm

      Hi Diana – mine were just letters printed on regular copy paper – once I traced them them, I threw them away, they weren’t really stencils. You can use any font you’d like. If you can’t find any fonts that you like the look of, you could try downloading some new fonts. Just google free fonts and you should get quite a few options for different sites. You can find the Abraham Lincoln font here: (Where it asks for a dollar amount you can just put in “0”). Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Harold PennerSaturday, May 30, 2015 - 8:46 am

    If you can afford a bandsaw it is faster and you can use thicker books.
    Thanks for your post.
    Have you thought about posting on Instructables?


  • Betty NobilingSaturday, September 12, 2015 - 5:05 pm

    check with your local library-many have free books to share or buy cheaply…ReplyCancel

  • TinaSaturday, January 9, 2016 - 6:09 pm

    Did you have to glue the pages together for strength?ReplyCancel

    • MandaSunday, January 10, 2016 - 8:29 pm

      We did not glue any pages together, and they stand up very well on their own!ReplyCancel

  • sharon phillipsSunday, March 20, 2016 - 8:50 pm

    I actually have about 200 readers digest books that i have collected and wondered if you would like tho buy theseReplyCancel

    • MandaSunday, March 20, 2016 - 8:58 pm

      Hi Sharon – we’ve currently got a few in stock and aren’t looking for more at the moment – thanks though!ReplyCancel

    • SamanthaMonday, April 18, 2016 - 5:51 pm

      How much would you sell them for? I’m looking to start making these letters for my business.ReplyCancel

  • KatieFriday, July 1, 2016 - 11:36 pm

    Hi! Your letters look great. Can you tell me the approximate width of your book? I have heard you can do thicker books with a bandsaw but I’ll be using my scroll saw.

    • MandaSaturday, July 2, 2016 - 12:28 pm

      Thanks! The books we cut were about 1 1/2 inches thick.ReplyCancel

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