turned book stand

turned book stand


Having pontificated recently about how much I like books, I thought it was apropos to show the book stand that I sometimes use. It’s based on an example Trent showed me in an historic house museum in Massachusetts. The original has stylistic features that clearly link it to 17th-century stuff. In all likelihood it is a period piece; it’s just the only one I have ever seen or heard of. I just have a nagging wish that I’d see another one…

Anyway, I adapted the size and format for this version; I changed the turning profiles, and just used an oil finish instead of the squiggle-painted finish of the original.  It consists of two uprights joined by round mortise & tenons on three rails. Between the 3 rails are two more rails whose tenons are loose-fitting. Thus these 2 can pivot. Into these 2 rails are fitted two pieces that allow the book rest to be adjusted higher or lower, a sort-of ratchet arrangement. The picture will make more sense than any long-winded description of mine. The shelf is butted up to the bottom ends of the uprights, and has two feet tenoned thru the bottom shelf, into mortises bored in the end grain of the uprights. I then peg these joints from behind. I forget if the original was pegged there or not.  

book stand rear view


detail of ratchet system


It’s built like a turned chair, mostly. the uprights are green wood, the rails’ tenons have been dried. There is a bit of comprimise when you get to the tenons that connect the ratchet parts to the pivoting rails. I often pin these, as well as glue them – because these rails have mostly dried to be fit to the stiles.

The one complaint is that the creature does not lie flat when stored…thus it takes up space. If you have lots of flat surfaces to spare, that’s fine. I keep one of these on my desk, and it collects all manner of junk; but when I have a lot of transcribing to do, it comes in handy.

On the bookstand is a new book, Early British Chairs and Seats 1500-1700 by Tobias Jellinek (Antique Collectors Club) …. Essentially a picture book, because the text is so annoying. But the pictures, for fans of English furniture are worth the trouble. I’m continually amazed at the breadth of English furntire of the 16th & 17th centuries…

7 thoughts on “turned book stand

  1. Nice stand Peter, think I will have to make myself one.

    Your review of the Jellinek book is somewhat briefer and a bit more abrupt than Vic Chinnery in the RFS newsletter but arrives at a similar conclusion.


  2. Masterfully done, Peter, very nice. Aesthetically pleasing and useful, form following function. Doesn’t get any better than that.

  3. Doesn’t the North Andover Historical Society book stand have little shaved brackets under the shelf? A portrait of Increase Mather at NA HS has such a bookstand. Some of them are made with boards. I think an easy spin-off from these might be the Topsfield MA HS glass case front, with two rows of spindles. The question is, was it for tall Venice glasses, so we’ll need to see if it had a shelf by looking on the inside surface.

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