Canadian Woodworking


Author: Gordon Graff
Illustration: Len Churchill
Published: December January 2004

This bookstand frees up valuable space on the student’s desk (or the chef’s counter) and it places the book in a position that is easy to work from.


Many cooks and students share a common problem: they both work from books, and are often cramped for space. Too often there is not enough space on their work surface to work from an open book.

As with most projects, the choice of material is a personal one. I chose Canarywood for this project because I had a single board that was ample for the entire project. The angle of the book support is the most important aspect in the construction of this project. The angle used (37º) works well whether you are sitting at a desk or standing at a kitchen counter.

Glue Up The Panels

Glue up enough material to make both the base and the support shelf. Set it aside to dry. Strive to achieve an invisible glue line, so that it looks like a single width board.

Cut Uprights To Length

Set the miter gauge of the table saw to 37º and cut the uprights to length. Take care to ensure that both uprights are the same length. Cut both pieces at the same time to ensure they are cut perfectly to length.

Measure and Mark

Measure the length of the angled cut in the uprights and place a mark in the centre. Next, use a biscuit joiner at the centre mark you made and cut a slot for a #20 biscuit. That is going to form the joinery to hold the uprights to the book support shelf. The bottom of these uprights requires the same procedure.

Cut Biscuit Slots

Cut slots in both the base and the support shelf. Be sure to align the biscuit slots to ensure a good fit. To ensure that the biscuit slots line up when assembled, I’ve oriented the parts in their finished location and drawn a straight line across both the base and book support shelf.

Round Over Dry Fit

The book ledge (a 13″ X 1 3/4″ X 1/2″ thick piece of stock) can now be machined. Cut the appropriate biscuit slots in both the ledge and the book support. The biscuit slots are cut into the book support 1” from the bottom edge and centered on the thickness of the book ledge. Use a 3/8” round over bit to round over the base, book ledge, and book support. That will minimize the sharp edges of the project and give it a pleasing look. Once all the machining is completed the project is ready for a dry fit. Dry fitting is a vital step in any project. It is where mistakes can be rectified without too much effort. If you glue a project together, without dry fitting it first, you could be adding unnecessarily to your scrap bin.

Sand and Glue Up

When you are assured that all is well after the dry fit, it’s time to sand the entire project and glue it together. Once the glue dries take the bookstand out of the clamps and sand to a final grit of 220, in preparation for the final finish. To finish, I used three coats of oil-based poly to top coat (with a light sanding between each coat). Now, the student (or chef) in your family will be able to do their work with a little more space.

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