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Hefty Bookends


Hefty Bookends

Resaw your own veneer to hide the steel shot inside.

Got a small chunk of figured wood that you’d like to show off? Resaw it into thick veneers and make a pair of matching bookends. They’re laminated to conceal holes filled with steel shot. Although these blocks look light, they’re actually heavy enough to support a row of large books. You’ll need a bandsaw to cut your figured wood, a large-diameter Forstner bit to drill the holes for the steel shot and a router with a flush-trim bit to even up the bookend’s layers.


Making the laminations

Each face of these bookends has two layers of laminations. The outer layer is resawn from a piece of solid, figured wood. The inner layer is a contrasting color composed of thin sheets of dyed veneer glued one on top of another (see Sources, below).

To make the outer layer, smooth the faces of a 3/4" thick, 4" wide and 13" long figured hardwood block. Set the fence of your bandsaw 1/8" away from the blade and resaw both faces of the block, making two pieces of 1/8" thick veneer. Sand the rough side and cut the pieces in half to make four pieces each about 6-1/2" long.

Make the inner layer by building up two or three thicknesses of dyed veneer. Use a veneer saw (see Sources, below) to cut the veneer into 4" wide by 6-1/2" long pieces. Make two cauls, the same sizes as the pieces of veneer, from 3/4" plywood or MDF. Glue the veneer between the cauls. To keep the veneer layers from sticking to the cauls, separate them with newspaper.


Making the core

For the core, select a piece of solid wood that’s close in color to the figured wood you used for the outer layer. Saw the wood into two matching pieces (Fig. A). Then drill a large hole in each side of both pieces with a 2" dia. Forstner bit (Fig. B).

Fill the holes with a mixture of steel shot and epoxy to add weight to the bookends. Pre-measure your steel shot by pouring it into the cavity. (Steel shot is available at gun shops.) Then mix the steel with two-part epoxy glue and spoon it into the hole. Be sure not to overfill the hole.

Laminating the core

Cut the figured wood and colored-veneer laminations so they’re slightly larger than the core pieces. An overhang of about 1/8" all around will allow for the laminations to slip a bit when you glue them to the core.

Use the cauls you made for gluing the colored veneer together to laminate one outer layer and one inner layer to each face of the core blocks. After each face is glued, trim the overhanging laminations with a bottom-bearing flush trim bit in your router.

Round the edges with a small-diameter round-over bit or a block plane and apply a finish. Finally, add felt circles to the bottoms to protect the surface on which these heavy bookends will sit.


(Note: Product availability and costs are subject to change since original publication date.)

Constantines’s,, 954-561-1716, fax 954-565-8149, Dyed veneers; Veneer saw, #VS275.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker June 2001, issue #87.

Click any image to view a larger version.

Fill the holes in both sides of the core pieces with a mixture of steel shot and two-part epoxy resin. Be careful not to overfill the holes.

Fig. A: Bookmatched Figure

Create mirror images on the top of your bookends by cutting both core pieces from a single piece of wood. Lay out the angled sides of the blocks with a compass.

Fig. B: Exploded View

Cover the shot-filled core with two layers of veneer. Resaw your own figured wood to make the outer layer. Laminate two to three sheets of dyed veneer to make the inner layer.

Side View of Core

Drill holes from both sides, leaving a small section of solid wood in between.