Sliding Dovetail Bookends

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Project by TheDane posted 09-22-2008 01:25 AM 4478 views 10 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife needed a set of book-ends to support the dictionaries and medical reference books she uses in her work.

Not one to take the easy way out (that would be: buy them at a local office supply), I decided to design my own.

These are adjustable … the bookends slide in a doivetail groove … and there are no hardware fasteners or glue in these … it is all friction-fit dovetail joinery.

I built a prototype out of pine, then did two copies (one of oak, the other mahogany).

They are 28” long and 5 1/2” wide. I plowed a 14º – 5/8” Dovetail set to 3/8” depth through the center of each … same depth/width through the book support..

The tails on the vertical braces were cut using the same setup against the fence on my router table.

I trimmed the book supports down to 5” width to accommodate the profile I routed around the base. After sanding (220 grit), each got two coats of satin polyurethane.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

15 comments so far

View Douglas Krueger's profile

Douglas Krueger

416 posts in 3686 days

#1 posted 09-22-2008 02:41 AM

Nice design, simple but very effective.

-- I can so I wood but why are my learning curves always circles

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4040 days

#2 posted 09-22-2008 02:53 AM

very nice…i love these…putting this in my favorites…great gift idea!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3730 days

#3 posted 09-22-2008 04:44 AM

Nice project. The grain in the maple is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3636 days

#4 posted 09-22-2008 04:49 AM

Thats some very nice work.

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3898 days

#5 posted 09-25-2008 03:26 AM

These turned out very nice and I love the idea. I do hope you don’t mind if I borrow it for a future project.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View TheDane's profile


5399 posts in 3626 days

#6 posted 09-25-2008 10:34 PM

Chris … be my guest. To me, it’s not borrowing … it is research!

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View TheDane's profile


5399 posts in 3626 days

#7 posted 10-20-2008 12:04 AM

The dimensions were largely dictated by the material I was using (1×6 dimensional lumber). Each book rack was cut entirely from a single piece of lumber 4’ in length. There was virtually no waste.

The dovetails are 14º – 5/8” cut 3/8” deep. I wanted the faces that support the books to be 6” high, which meant the bed could be 28” in length.

The key is to get a good fit on the dovetails. I cut the pins a little thick, and then worked them down with 180 grit self-adhesive sandpaper. The supports are 2 5/8” wide, and though they fit snug, they move easily when you want to adjust them but stay put with the weight of the books against them.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View F Dudak's profile

F Dudak

342 posts in 3773 days

#8 posted 11-21-2008 10:59 PM

Great Project! Necessity is the mother of invention!

-- Fred.... Poconos, PA ---- Chairwright in the making ----

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

714 posts in 3581 days

#9 posted 11-21-2008 11:12 PM


-- Don, Pittsburgh

View Craig55's profile


17 posts in 3360 days

#10 posted 05-07-2009 07:22 PM

I just now came across this project. Great idea, you do excellent work. I am going to put this on my to do list.

Thanks for posting.

View TheDane's profile


5399 posts in 3626 days

#11 posted 05-08-2009 12:41 AM

I made a bunch of these for Christmas gifts last year … they were a real hit, especially with the relatives that can read! (lol)

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Andy's profile


1691 posts in 3871 days

#12 posted 05-08-2009 01:03 AM

I like this. Its a simple and logical approach to a common problem,but there is a skill level required here.Well done!

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View a1Jim's profile


117060 posts in 3540 days

#13 posted 05-08-2009 07:53 AM

They look great

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3059 days

#14 posted 04-06-2013 12:12 PM

Nice job Gerry. I like the adjustability.

-- John from Hampstead

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2829 days

#15 posted 04-06-2013 01:26 PM

These are really nice, Gerry, and I bet that your wife really loves them.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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