Spool Ottoman/Bookshelf

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I was walking through my alley one day several months ago on my way home from work.  I don’t usually take this way home, preferring not to walk by peoples’ garbage cans, but on occasion, if the sidewalks seem very crowded, I do.  That is when I found this:


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A medium-sized cable spool.  Someone was throwing it out.  I thought of all of the projects I could make with this spool.  The possibilities were endless!  It could be a planter, a side table, wall art, a bird house, a patio table, or just about anything!  I decided, because I was in desperate need, as I always am, of more book storage, that I would make it into a bookshelf.  But, it was also screaming to be an ottoman, so I made it into both.


What you need:



Styrofoam & stuffing OR upholstery foam

Buttons OR upholstery button kits

Needle and heavy duty thread

4 screws and washers

Staple gun







First, I went to the thrift store and found this AMAZING fabric.  I’d heard of people buying fabric at the thrift store, but I’d never actually noticed how much was there, nor had I purchased any.  There were about four yards of this stuff, it is thick like canvas, and it was only a few dollars.  Amazing!  I LOVED the pattern, and would have bought it and saved it even if I didn’t have a project in mind for it.


Next, I spray painted my spool.  I wanted the interior of it to be black.  The inner tube was made of cardboard, so I wanted to cover that up as best as I could.  Otherwise, I thought about taking rope or twine and wrapping it around the middle (like Alex does with her containers here).  Instead, I figured the solid cardboard interior tube was fine, and wouldn’t be that visible once I put books inside.  Also, the cardboard was really thick and heavy duty, and had metal rods inside the tube that gave it even more structure and prevented it from sinking under weight.  I at first thought I was going to have to reinforce the center, but then noticed the metal rods.  If you happen to find one without a solid interior, you will probably need to reinforce it somehow if you plan to use it as a table or ottoman that supports any kind of weight.


After I spray painted the spool, it was time to assemble.  I took the stuffing from an old messed up pillow (I planned to throw it out anyway), and a thick piece of heavy duty styrofoam that had been in a box of something I purchased.  I traced the spool outline on the foam, and cut it with my box cutter.  I then laid the stuffing on top and around the sides of the foam, and placed everything upside down on my outstretched fabric (I’d cut a piece out about a foot larger on all sides than the spool’s base).  Note, Pickles is “helping” with this project, by claiming her spot on the stuffing.



Next, I put my spool upside down on top of the foam, stuffing, and fabric.  Using a staple gun, I pulled the fabric tightly up around the stuffing and foam, and stapled it in place about an inch in, but were I to do it again I might staple it in farther towards the center to make the ends less visible.  I kept pulling tightly until the fabric was very taunt, and all sides were stapled securely.  Then, I cut off the excess fabric, leaving about an inch beyond the staples.  I glued what had been leftover to the wooden base so it laid a little flatter and wouldn’t hang down.




My spool was starting to look more like an ottoman, but I was only done with the easy part.  I wanted to make it “tufted” (with the little dimples and buttons).  I’d looked up a bunch of ways to do tufted upholstery, but only one really made sense to me and used things I already had at home. That was a big part of this project:  I didn’t want to spend extra money for professional tufting equipment.  I wanted to do this on the cheap, but make it strong enough to last.  Elisha over at Pneumatic Addict has a post that gave me some amazing ideas and suggestions for DIY tufting.  Use screws!


Choosing your screw is important, though.  If you are using styrofoam, like I did, it is even more important.  Make sure your screw is long enough to go through the stuffing, the styrofoam, AND the wood.  If it is not long enough it will not work.  It HAS to be able to reach the wood.  Also…the Washers are important.  If you do not use a washer the fabric will stretch under pressure and the screw will go straight through it.  Very important!  I think if I would have done this again, I might have opted for upholstery foam, as it would have been easier to work with for the tufting part of my project.  Instead, though, I did it the hard way.  Be careful because your stuffing will get stuck in the screw, also.  I chose four evenly spaced points on my cushion, and with the washer on my screw, I screwed it into the cushion, being sure it entered the wood and was secure.  Then I did this with the other tufts.  It might get more difficult as you get to the end, and the fabric becomes more taunt.


Then came the buttons.  I selected four buttons I’d had leftover from replacing buttons on an old coat.  These worked perfectly, and all I had to do was take a circle with a circumfrence a little larger than my buttons, and sew the ends together over and over again until the fabric was secure on the button.  There are also kits you can buy that make this process even more brainless.  You just apply the fabric and snap two pieces together and you’re done.  For the buttons, you can either use a strong fabric glue, or you can stitch them on.  I chose to stitch mine.





I’m planning to put little wheels on the bottom, I just haven’t gotten a chance to yet.  Otherwise, after the buttons, the project is finished, and all it needs are some books and trinkets.




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