Completed bookends on the shelf with books stacked. How To'sHow To's section icon
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Combine traditional joinery with traditional woodturning to create bespoke bookends. With handmade dovetail joints finished with wood turned detailing, these bookends will look impressive on any bookshelf.

What you'll need

Making the Bookends

Step 1

Select four pieces of wood, ends prepared square. This guide uses lengths of 120mm x 105mm x 16mm and used mahogany but any hardwood can be used.

Four equal sized squares of mahogany on workbench

Step 2

Start by marking the joint shoulder lines with a cutting gauge or knife and a try square on the 4 sections of wood.

four pieces of mahogany with marked shoulder lines and cutting gauge

Step 3

Then mark out the dovetails and cut the tails, removing the waste with a piercing saw.


Step 4

Chisel to the shoulder line using a scrap square block and clamp to a bench.


Step 5

Label the joints and mark out pins, using a jig if required, complete marking out the pin boards.


Step 6

Cut out the waste and chisel to the shoulder line as in steps 4 and 5.

Waste cut out of the pin boards.

Step 7

Trial fit the joint by pushing it half way in.

Four sections of mahogany with completed dovetails, pushed together to check fit.

Step 8

On the two base sections, mark out four holes for screws (arrowed) and drill 4.5mm holes and countersink the underside. Round off the corners equally and shape the corners on a disc sander, so no sharp edges are left


Step 9

Sand all internal surfaces to 240 grit, mask off the joints and polish with two coats of Liberon Sanding Sealer using a white cloth (as a coloured cloth may taint the polish).

Sanded wood with masking tape on shoulder end, sanding sealer and cloth ready to be applied.

 

Step 10

Wax surfaces with clear wax polish and buff with a soft cloth.

4 sections of mahogany with applied spirit sealer.

Step 11

Glue the joints together and leave to set. The wax acts as a ‘resist’ enabling any excess glue to be easily removed once set.

2 pairs of glued dovetails, showing glue creeping out of joint.

Step 12

Clean up dovetails with a fine set smoother. Protect the inside faces with leather jaw liners and cover the bench with similar. Sand exterior surfaces to 240 grit using a Mirka hand sander and Abranet abrasives.

One set of the bookends, clamped to workbench with leather support with hand sander and abrasives.

Step 13

Finally, detail sand the edges and corners with 240 grit Abranet and a cork block. Polish the exterior surfaces as in step 9 and set aside the bookends.

Completed sanded bookends.

Step 14

Further to this is to wood turn the round detail of the bookends. Mount the block of yew securely in the lathe and set to very slow speed. Gradually turn the wood blank to a cylinder, increasing the lathe speed as the waste is removed. When the yew is round and to your desired size for the bookend, sand to 320 grit and part off into two sections 80mm long. Clean up ends on the disc sander and with Mirka Abranet abrasives. Leaving you with two completed cylinders for the bookend detailing. 


Step 15

Grip each cylinder in a vice, draw a line down the centre and mark off the hole positions (arrowed).

Section of Yew clamped into workbench with marked out lines for screw holes.

Step 16

Then, drill a small pilot hole and polish the cylinders as steps 9 and 13.

Turned Yew rounds with hold for screws drill out with drill on workbench.

Step 17

Finally, assemble the cylinders to the bookends, with 4mm x 40mm screws. The bookends are now ready for the shelf.

Completed bookends on the shelf with books stacked.

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