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
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, constantines.com, 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.