Wood Books | Popular Woodworking Magazine

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They’re so easy and fun to make you’ll want a dozen!

If you can’t bear to throw away good wood, you probably have a pile of short boards just waiting to become – who knows what? I turned my pile into a library of wood samples, which can be stored like real books.

My wooden books are ideal for showing clients and friends what different types of wood look like and how their figures vary depending on how the boards are cut. Having made the books years ago, I now also have a record of how the natural color of a wood changes with time and exposure.

To create a book, start by milling an empty square. If you’re using rough lumber, start with a gap at least 12 inches long, for safety when joining and planing. The blank can be of any thickness, but I have found that books 1 inch or thicker look better. For starters, a milled 2 × 6 is perfect.

1. Round to one side of a squared blank to duplicate the look of a book spine.

Round off on both sides of one long side of the stock (Photo 1). For books 3/4 “to 1-1 / 4” thick, use a 1/4 “radius tip; for 1-1 / 2” to 2 “thick books, use a 1 inch tip /2”; for thicker books, use a 1 “tip.

2. Tear off the blank to separate the spine from the body of the book.

Tear the spine off the body of the book (Photo 2). Make the cut at the base of the roundover. Mark the two pieces so you can reassemble them correctly later.

3. Simulate the pages of a book by sawing three sides of the blank. Vary the height and width of the cuts.

I have seen the pages of the book (Photo 3). I recommend that you use a zero distance fence for maximum support. Start by sawing off both sides of the blank to create the outer pages. Raise the blade to make a cut approximately 3/16 “deep and position the guide about 1/8” from the blade. To minimize tearing, make the first cut with the book in an upright position; lead with the side of the spine. Then cut the long side and finally the remaining short side, without changing the blade or guide.

4. Smooth the edges of the spine and body with a block plane.

Once these three cuts are complete, raise or lower the blade slightly, move the guide 1/64 “less than the blade cut, and repeat the three cuts in the same order. Continue making a series of similar cuts, changing each time the height of the blade and the position of the fence, until all the pages are formed.

5. Glue the spine to the body. Use rubber bands as clamps to avoid damaging the book.

Create a revelation between the spine and the body by smoothing the mating edges of both sides (Photo 4). Smear glue on the joint (use a small amount so there are no splashes to clean) and tie the book with rubber bands (Photo 5). Apply a finish, or not, and it’s shelf-ready.


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