Jeffersonian Bookstand

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Project by Holz_und_Geschichte41 posted 07-13-2010 12:37 AM 6466 views 19 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project has been the most complex to date. It was a bit intimidating at first, but going at it step by step, double checking measurements, estimated angles and range of motion, it turned out to be a fun experience. A pleasant surprise with this project was how relatively inexpensive it was. With all the materials and hardware, the cash outlay was about $80.

• Approx $50-$60 for the Eastern Red Cedar ($3.59/bft) with plenty of wood to spare
• $20 bucks worth of small hinges and half inch, flat head screws for the lazy Susan mechanism.

I have seen reproduction online priced from $600 to $1,950.00. I think this time spent was worth the savings. The original was made either out mahogany or black walnut and so is likely a bit tougher than my wood choice. Further, I use biscuits, glue, and screws to hold everything together while the original, being handcrafted consists mostly of mortise and tenons. I am envious of those who can do this by hand. As I slowly grow my non-power tool stock of woodworking equipment I may revisit this project as a quality challenge.

About three or four years ago I got the chance to tour Monticello and the Charlottesville area. If you haven’t been there is it quite gorgeous and a good way to spend a vacation. Especially if you are a history buff, lover of wine (Barboursville Vineyard), and enjoy scenery (Blue Ridge Mountains are just a head turn away). While you are up there, take the 20-30 mile drive north to Orange, VA and visit Montpelier, the personal residence of James Madison. This visit was prior to my taking up woodworking but once I did it rang some serious bells.

Anyway, the panels are all biscuit-jointed together. Always remember where and how deep your biscuits are in the wood for when I had to cut out the slot on the top, I re-exposed the center biscuit by accident! I pyrographically (pen) burned a square to make it look less like a mistake; lesson learned. I used a drill press (1/2 diameter bit) for the notches in the supports. Prior to using a drill press I had tried with a chisel by hand; I found the quarter inch spaces between the notches to be weaker because of the non-uniform cuts into the grain. This was my first rodeo with a drill press and I learned not to drill all the way through for it results in large tear outs on the bottom. I lucked out on this project for the torn out areas are not visible but unwanted nonetheless. I recommend finishing (used HVLP spray gun with a pre-thinned polyacrylic (sp?) finish to bring out the color of the cedar) prior to assembling the bookstand. Otherwise I would have been trying to get every nook and cranny but likely over-spraying in certain spots and under spraying in or missing entirely others. Hinging the pieces on was by far the most difficult and time consuming of the tasks. It got down right frustrating especially in the 110+ degree heat of the Arizona summer. An additional note, do not route the sides where hinges are to go because you may end up with exposed screw tips or miter joints fitting a hair too tight and then you have to play the hinge adjustment game; not fun. The lazy Susan mechanism installation wasn’t hard, however one should be mindful of the reduction in space from the top and (upper) bottom pieces after the hinges are installed. I had to place an additional piece of wood between the upper bottom piece and the mechanism to ensure enough clearance for it to spin and for the panels to lay flat.

All in all, it was an extremely fun and challenging project. I recommend it!

-- Ryan, Arizona

12 comments so far

View dakremer's profile


2672 posts in 3092 days

#1 posted 07-13-2010 02:20 AM

very interesting! I haven’t seen anything like it – it looks great!! thanks for posting

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3674 days

#2 posted 07-13-2010 02:40 AM

Nice bookstand, Thomas Jefferson would be proud.

View toxicoval56's profile


162 posts in 3504 days

#3 posted 07-13-2010 02:50 AM

Where did you get the idea? Is it for something specific (other than just holding 3 books at once)? I like this very much, I was about to build a single table-top library stand but you may have given me something to think about.

Very nice job.

-- The view only changes for the leading dog.

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 3011 days

#4 posted 07-13-2010 03:22 AM

A great build Ryan, it looks just like the the one at Monticello that Thomas Jefferson used. You did a great job on it!

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View littlecope's profile


3071 posts in 3503 days

#5 posted 07-13-2010 04:09 AM

Fine Work, Ryan!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Jason's profile


659 posts in 3509 days

#6 posted 07-13-2010 07:03 PM

Very interesting project. It looks great in your office. Where will you place this?

-- Jason - Colorado Springs

View Frankie Talarico Jr.'s profile

Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 3357 days

#7 posted 07-14-2010 12:45 PM

people still read books? lol j/k I read only what I can’t find online. I think libraries are going out of business, the only thing they are good for now is history, which also can be found online. the new millenium.

This book stand is a great project. I like your wood choice, it’s actually very practical

A+ in my book (pun intended)

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4300 days

#8 posted 07-24-2010 06:06 PM

A very nice way to display books.

Very well crafted.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View woodbutcher's profile


592 posts in 4166 days

#9 posted 07-27-2010 10:20 PM

Congratulations on a very nice build. That is a very nice interpretaion of the original Jeffersonian book stand. Poor old Thomas would have been envious of your lazy susan bearing, I’m sure. I had a bit of trouble finding the actual project as it didn’t seem to be attached to the original post. Keep on keeping on!

Ken McGinnis

-- woodbutcher north carolina

View DYNO360's profile


151 posts in 2866 days

#10 posted 07-29-2010 12:48 AM

Wow! I like your choice for a project. As you know, Jefferson had many neat inventions. Speaking of buildings other than Monticello. Jefferson’s other home, Poplar Forest, is now restored and open to the public. It is located further south of Waynesboro. My favorite furnishings at Monticello are the twin knife boxes in the tea room and the octogon shaped “rent table”. Your project is an inspiration to me and others.

View ProbablyLost's profile


83 posts in 3519 days

#11 posted 07-31-2010 07:35 PM

Nice job. I have seen reproductions of these selling for a lot of $. It looks like you have mastered it.

-- Chris

View smithy's profile


95 posts in 2329 days

#12 posted 04-19-2012 12:06 PM

That is very neat! Well done!

-- Kevin, Indiana

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