Make This G.I. Joe Bookend and Get Your Kids Reading

Give your free time creative purpose

Get your kids excited about reading… make them a pair of unique action figure bookends!

It’s a great way to spike their interest in books… and will encourage them to grow their book collection.

It’s also a fantastic way to repurpose an old toy figure, I used a G.I. Joe soldier, but other figures would also work (perhaps even a Barbie!)…

Repurposed action figure bookend
Hey, who put that hole there?

What will I learn?

1) Creating shelf space with totally unique bookends is a great way to encourage your kids to read.

2) Old toys are a brilliant for quirky upcycling, before you throw them out, think what you could turn them into.

3) You can do something in an obvious way or an unexpected way, the latter is better…such as making it look like the soldier has fallen through the shelf, so the legs act as a bookend for the shelf below!

Step by step guide

Follow the illustrated how-to below, it’s not too tricky, but you will need an old action figure!

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LEARN how to transform the stuff around you into fun and useful things:

Printable artwork

Time to start operating…

Cut in half... ergh!
A repurposed action figure bookend: illustration 1

Take your old toy action figure and use a hack saw to remove a 20mm section from the waist (1).

Top disc
A repurposed action figure bookend: illustration 2

Cut two wooden discs slightly bigger than the toy’s waist (2).

Next, find a bolt long enough to fit through the shelf and both wooden discs, something around 4-5mm in diameter, you’ll also need one matching nut.

In the centre of both discs drill a hole to fit the bolt (3), and another (halfway through) to fit the bolt head and nut (3). Use epoxy adhesive, such as Araldite, to secure the nut into the larger hole of one of the discs (5).

Now glue the wooden disc (the one with the nut glued into it) onto the top half of the soldier (6).

Bottom disc
A repurposed action figure bookend: illustration 3

Glue the bolt into the other wooden disc (7) and then glue that disc onto the legs using more expoxy adhesive (8).

Finally, drill a hole through the shelf (9), push the bolt through, and screw on the body (10). That’s it, just adjust the legs and arms and add the books!

Oh… and why not celebrate by buying your kids a new reading book they can put onto their new cool shelf?


  • Large plastic action figure
  • Sandpaper or craft knife
  • Small piece of 10mm MDF/plywood
  • Nut and bolt 6-8mm diameter, 40-50mm long
  • Hacksaw, jigsaw
  • Drill and drillbits
  • Epoxy adhesive

Give it your own unique twist

Shout out

This project first appeared on Makezine, as part of their quirky craft series.

The technique above is very dependent on the type of toy figure you use. The objective is to attach the top half of the toy figure onto the top of the shelf, and the bottom half of the figure on the underside of the shelf - so feel free to come up with your own method.

Written by
Photo of Scott Bedford
Scott Bedford

Maker, Illustrator and Author