Time & Temp Bookends

Here's an easy-to-build project that makes a super gift idea, lends itself to mass production, and eats up the short lengths of hardwood in your scrap bin. The only specialty tooling you'll need to invest in - or borrow - is a 3-1/4" holesaw, or an adjustable circle-cutter. This project was originally sponsored by the folks at Village Originals, who supplied the clock and thermometer.

Start by cutting six 6-1/4" squares of hardwood stock to size. I used walnut on the outsides (4 pieces), and hard maple on the inside (2 pieces). Set up your drill press to cut 3-1/4" circles in two of the walnut squares and two of the maple squares, as shown at left. Clamp everything down to avoid surprises: curcle cutters can be dangerous.

Glue up two sets of blocks next. We started with a solid walnut back, then a maple square with a hole in it, and then a walnut square with a hole in it.  

As you apply clamping pressure to the glued subassembly, make sure that the two circles are lined up perfectly. The edges of the blocks aren't critical at this point. They will be trimmed later.

While the glue is drying, resaw and plane two 14" lengths of 2-3/8" wide maple to 3/16" thickness. If you don't have access to a planer, you can often buy thin hardwood at home centers and lumberyards - they call them "hobby boards". A local cabinetshop will make you lengths of molding this size, or you can use metal, too. The strips will be attached to the bottoms of the bookends. When books are placed on them, they compensate for any lack of weight and stabilize the bookends.  

After the glue dries, trim the blocks to 6" squares, centering the holes in them. You can trim one edge outside the cut line on your band saw, to establish a square edge. Then trim the other three sides on a miter saw (shown), and use the same tool to clean up the band-sawn edge.

Miter the outside corner of each block, then glue one of the thin maple strips to the bottom of each. (The strip on the top in this photo is just scrap, used to protect the work.) If you like, you could countersink and counterbore for a couple of 1" screws in each block, to secure the strip. After the glue dries, sand the strips flush with the edges of the blocks.  


Cut two pieces of 3/4" walnut to 6" wide by 8" tall. These plates will be attached to the blocks and rest against the books. Chamfer the top corners of each on the miter saw, then give each plate a thorough sanding.

If you decide to use a strip of brass or other metal as a stabilizer, you can skip this next step. If you're using wood, you"ll need to create a small relief in the bottom of each plate, where the stabilizer passes through it. The easiest way to mill the 3/32" high relief is with a straight bit chucked in a table-mounted router, as shown.

Attach the plates to the blocks with glue and three countersunk, counterbored 1-5/8" screws. Sand everything down to 220 grit, and then apply three coats of satin spray lacquer or your favorite clear finish. Sand with 400 grit paper between coats.

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