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Sliding Bookrack

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Sliding Bookrack

Arts & Crafts details add sophistication to a simple project

By Seth Keller

I’ve always admired the work of Greene & Greene, two architects who designed Arts & Crafts homes and furnishings in the early 20th century. Their detailing is exquisite. I love the softened edges, pegged joinery, square motifs and overall lightness of their work. When I needed bookends to hold some special volumes, I turned to these gifted artists for inspiration.

This bookrack works on a very simple principle: friction. The bookends are adjustable, sliding on two rails to hold any set of books. But when you push the ends up to the books, they tilt slightly and bind against the rails. They’re locked in place. When you pull a book out, the ends are released and free to slide again.

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Begin by sawing the sliding bookends and other curved pieces. You can cut two at the same time. Hold the pieces together with double-stick tape.

Click any image to see a larger version.


Rout a stepped profile on the bookends using a rabbeting bit. To safely begin the cut, pivot the workpiece against a starting pin. Once started, you can ride on the bit’s bearing.


Cut square holes through the rails using a mortising machine. Some tear-out on the back is inevitable, even with a sacrificial board under the rail, but you’ll remove it in the next step.


Plane the rails to final thickness. Place the torn-out sides facing up. They’ll come out perfectly smooth.




Glue walnut pegs into the square holes. The heads of the pegs should be slightly proud of the surface. Round over their sharp corners with sandpaper after the glue is dry.


Cut slots in the bookends. Their spacing is critical for the bookends to slide smoothly on the rails. Assemble the base first; then mark each slot’s position directly from the rails.










This story originally appeared in American Woodworker October 2006, Issue #124.

October 2006, Issue #124

Purchase this back issue.