DIY bookends made from cement and toys

February 19 | Guest post by Fritz is Fine

diy cement dino bookend3I'm not over the cement trend, and I'm certainly not over the toys-as-decor trend. So, I put them together in a functional DIY. I made a few of these dinosaur cement bookends!

You could make one, or a pair. Here's how…

What you'll need:

  • Small box (who doesn't hoard these things?)
  • Animal toy (I find mine at the Dollar Tree and thrift stores, and have a literal suitcase full for projects)
  • Cement (Quikrete, or even mortar mix will work)
  • Cooking spray, like Pam
  • Tape
  • Screws and screwdriver
  • Craft knife
  • Felt/rubber pads

I started with gift boxes from the Dollar Store, which were about four inches square, by three inches deep. I played around with using recycled materials, though most boxes that are the right size and shape are made of simple cardboard, which gives too much with the weight of the cement. I did have some success (albeit less consistent) with chicken broth containers. So, lucky me, I got to keep my prototype to keep my Bukowski collection company.

diy cement dino bookend 2

For the bookends I gave in sets as gifts, I used store-bought boxes so the shapes would all be the same. The store-bought gift boxes have a kind of protective coating that doesn't buckle with the moisture of the cement. To make the boxes work as vertical molds, I removed the lid and cut out one side of the box. I then put the lid back on, and with tape, secured the side so there would be no gaps for the cement to leak in to.

diy cement dino bookend4

The toy needs to be secure in the cement, so I figured a few screws at different depths would keep things from coming loose. The toy's plastic was soft enough for me to screw these in by hand.

Next, I mixed up some cement — just follow the instructions. I sprayed the inside of the box with Pam (this helps the cardboard not stick) and packed the cement into the box mold from the top. With every few inches of cement, I tapped the box sides so bubbles would be kept to a minimum, but honestly, I like the little gaps because it makes it look like a cross-section of the earth.

Once you have your cement at a height you're pleased with, it's time to embed the toy. Push the feet into the cement so that the screws go in deep, but not so much so that the feet are covered. Use a tool, such as an old chop stick, to even the cement around the feet.

Now wait a few days for your cement to harden. The wait is by far always the hardest part with cement projects — at least for me.

IMG_5609

When things are dry, remove the bookend from the cement. Rip the box apart in excitement like I did, or cut out one side that you can repair later with tape and use the molds again. Under running water, wash any cement gunk off the toy. Let dry.

To finish, give the bookend some color. I went with a graduated look halfway down the cement. Put felt or rubber pads on the bottom corners to avoid any damage to your table or shelves.

diy cement dino bookend

  1. And it suddenly occurs to me that my house needs more bookends … lots more book ends …

    6 agree
  2. absolutely frickin' adorable! yay! I need a suitcase full of toys in my life as well. I'm thinking you couldnget fake little trees or anything and make a whole world on top of a bookend.

    3 agree
  3. This is brilliant. I have so many cheap bookends (*cough*IKEA*) that simply don't work, and don't hold up books. Do you have any idea if there's a baseline for how heavy or how wide the bookend should be, in order to do it's job? The antique ones I've seen were typically low and wide.

    Also, I bet you could use a finishing trowel if you wanted to flatten the top and make a square bookend.

    0 agree
  4. I am in love. I spend every vacation looking at fabulous bookends that I can't buy because they cost gazillions of dollars, and have a home FULL of bookshelves (with open ends) and cheap bookends that don't do their job. On my list of summer projects!

    If anybody experiments with variations, I'd love additional tips and pics!

    0 agree
    • I bet you could put twine, bubble wrap, or lace, etc. lining the inside of the container to give it texture. I saw something somewhere about making outdoor planters that way, but I can't remember where. You had to pour the cement between two sandwiched containers.

      Also, does cement expand when it dries? It would be awesome to fill hollow plastic toys with it- like a doll head or a roller skate or something. That way it would be heavy enough to be a book end.

      2 agree
      • Cement does have a habit of expanding. Filling a hollow toy — a doll head, yes!!! — is a great experiment! If you do this, I'd love to see your result!

        0 agree

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