Car (Ute/Truck) Bookshelf

14 Materials
3 Days

For my sons 3rd birthday I wanted to make him a bookshelf, something super cool that would double as a storage for his favourite toy cars.

After some brainstorming, I decided on a Ute (as we call them in Australia) or truck structure, with a door that would open to storage and then a shelf in the back tray to hold his books. 🤩

Rough sketch of my idea.

I drew up a design and then measured out the space where I wanted it in my sons room to work out what size to make the structure. With the measurements and using my original drawings as a guide, I then sketched out the design to its actual size on the floor with some chalk to make sure everything looked in proportion. 

Sketch to actual size.

Next, was a trip to Bunnings (our local hardware store) to get all of the materials. Once I had all my materials I started cutting up the wood to size and screwing it all together. I made sure to constantly use my square & tape measure to check that everything was straight.

Building the structure

For the windscreen and the door I used wood glue, clamped it and left overnight to dry. 

Clamping the windscreen

For the back tray I left the top panel off to create a ‘pocket’ for the books, and then added a shelf further down (behind the front panels) for the books to sit on.

Work in progress ☺️

Once the structure was complete I gave the whole thing a light sand and clean to prep it for the stain.

Structure complete (minus shelves and door)

Originally I was going to use a walnut stain but after testing the colour on a scrap piece I wasn’t too keen on it, I was after more of a black/grey look.I’ve white washed a lot of furniture in the past so I decided to try the same affect but with black. I simply mixed some black paint with some water (I did around a 50/50 ratio), and then used a rag to rub it onto the wood. For the bottom panel (the bumper), I added a little extra paint to my mixture to get a darker affect. 

Testing out different stains.
Using a rag to rub in the paint/water mixture
End result of the paint/water stain.

Next, I attached the door using some small hinges and then did the same ‘wash’ affect on it except I added some white paint to the mixture to make it grey.Note: I removed the door again to paint it, however I wanted to make sure it fit and closed properly before I painted it, just incase I had to recut or sand it.

Attaching the door with hinges.
Door painted grey with a ‘wash’ affect.

Once the door was attached, I cut up some more wood for the shelves. I used the same type of wood but with a smaller width to allow that extra room for the door to close. I stained them with the black/water mixture and then attached them to the inside of the door frame.Next, I used white wall paint and a fine brush to do the writing on the door. 

Painting the sign on the door.

Once all the painting was done, I sealed it with a liming white sealer/stainer to get that extra ‘weathered’ wood look. I used a rag to apply it, lightly rubbing it in over the entire structure.

Sealed with liming white sealer/stainer

I then added some stick on ‘push’ nightlights, one at the front and one at the back. These I bought from Bunnings again, they have adhesive strips on the back, and to replace the batteries you just twist the front cover off.

Attaching the light.
Headlights 😊

For the wheels I used some mdf place mats I found at Bunnings. I glued two together to add some thickness and then painted them with chalkboard paint. It probably would have worked out cheaper to buy a small sheet of mdf and cut the wheels out myself but I figured for a only a couple of extra dollars this option would save me a lot of time.

Mdf placemat boards for the wheels
Painting the wheels.

 I then drilled a hole into the centre of the wheels and in the bottom panel of the structure. I attached the wheels using long bolts with two nuts on each, one on each side of the panel, leaving a small space from the head to allow the wheel to spin. 

View from the back of the panel.
Top view of the wheel.

Lastly I added a door handle (I almost forgot it) and then it was finally ready to be hung it on the wall.To do this I used a total of 6 heavy duty angle brackets, 3 at the bottom and 3 at the top (behind the door and in the tray so that they are not visible). 

View from underneath the structure.

My project was now completed and ready to be filled with books and cars! 👌🏻Check out my instagram page @_prettyliving for more of my projects 😄

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4 of 364 comments
  • Dottie
    on Jan 30, 2021

    Very cute idea, but I wish people would show us the finished project BEFORE dragging us through all the details of how to make something. That way we wouldn't have to go through all the "How to" to get to t

    he "What are we making?"

    • Bonnie
      on Mar 6, 2021

      Geezz, I wish ppl would use their noggin once in awhile...all you have to do is scroll to bottom of post and take a gander!

  • Shirley Barnett
    Shirley Barnett
    on Feb 1, 2021

    Now that you know how the post works, just scroll down the post to the bottom and work your way up. My goodness Dottie, be nice. She has made a terrific bookshelf for her son and I think it is so darn cute. She has real talent in understanding how to please her sweet child. What have you build for yours lately I'd love a post.

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