Lessons/Guides – Lumber Library

IF YOU CAN’TSTAND THROWING A WAY good wood, you’ve probably got a stack of short boards that are just waiting to become – who knows what? I’ve turned my stack into a library of wood samples, which can be shelved just like real books.

My wooden books are ideal for showing customers and friends what different kinds of wood look like, and how a wood’s figure varies depending on how boards are cut. Having made the books years ago, I also now have a record of how a wood’s natural color changes with time and exposure.
To make a book, start by milling a blank foursquare. If you’re using rough lumber, start with a blank that’s at least 12″ long, for safety when jointing and planing. The blank can be any thickness, but I’ve found that books 1″ thick or more look best. For your first book, a milled 2×6 is just right.
Begin by rounding over one long side of the blank (Photo 1). For books that are 3/4″ to 1-1/4″ thick, use a 1/4″ radius bit; for books 1-1/2″ to 2″ thick, use a 1/2″ bit; for thicker books, use a 1″ bit.
Round over one side of a squared-up blank, to duplicate the look of a book’s spine.

Rip the spine from the body of the book(Photo 2). Make the cut 1/16″ below the base of the round over. Mark the two pieces so you can correctly re-assemble them later.
Rip the blank to separate the spine from the body of the book.

Saw the book’s outer pages (Photo 3). An ATB (Alternate Top Bevel) style blade gives the best look. I recommend that you use a zero-clearance fence for maximum support. Raise the blade to make a cut 3/16″ deep and position the fence 1/8″ from the blade. To minimize tear out, make the first cut with the book up right, leading with the spine side. Next, make a second cut on the long side. Then stand the book up right again, and make a third cut on the remaining short side. Turn the book around, and repeat these three cuts.
Simulate a book’s pages by sawing three sides of the blank. Vary the height and width of the cuts.

To cut the inner pages, raise or lower the blade a bit, move the fence 1/64″ less than the blade’s kerf, and repeat these cuts in the same order. Continue to make a series of similar cuts, changing the blade’s height and the fence’s position by different amounts each time, until all the pages are formed.
Make a reveal between the spine and body by chamfering the mating edges of both parts (Photo 4).Spread glue on the joint (use a small amount so there’s no squeeze-out to clean up) and bind the book with rubber bands (Photo 5). Apply a finish-or not-and it’s ready for the shelf.
Chamfer the edges of the spine and body with a block plane.

Glue the spine back to the body. Use rubber bands as clamps to avoid marring the book.