Stickley #79 Bookstand

Stickley #79

I finally managed to steal enough time to complete my version of the Stickley #79 bookstand. It was a good learning experience and a really solid piece. The bottom shelf is just barely big enough for medium size art books; I’d like to build another bookcase simply for art books now; this one is just a trifle short on the second shelf for that. But what these book stand projects have really been about is exploring joinery.

79 detailI opted for pinned through mortises, which made it necessary to make some five inch maple dowels on my new lathe. It was my first turning, so to speak. I really hated trying to make dowels using a dowel plate. I’ve decided that I really don’t like the parts of woodworking that involve forcefully pounding on things. It’s loud and obnoxious.

I didn’t care much for the wedged tenons I used on a little shaker step stool a while back, but I think I’ll revisit those for my next book stand just because they seem to be a really popular contemporary choice. The pinned tenons were a little extreme due to the long dowels, but I had to give it a try at least once. They’d be fine for skirts and other shallower bits, but on shelves it seems like overkill. The center shelf and skirt pieces on this one are doweled with hidden dowels; I’m really comfortable with doing that.

I really enjoyed lining up the figure for the individual parts of this. I think it turned out quite well.

The Reveal


I bought two 8′ lengths of ambrosia maple, rough, to make a Stickley #79 bookstand from. One of the things I enjoy most about woodworking is starting with rough stock and surfacing it to find out just what it looks like underneath its fuzzy exterior. I trimmed them to rough length to help minimize the loss due to twist.

Ambrosia is cheap, and somewhat unpredictable. The “ambrosia” designation is strictly a marketing term— what it really means is infested and damaged wood, with stains and color from insect tracks. It’s the cheapest maple you can find, mostly because of the potential weakness from the damage, even though it is “figured”. I think it’s pretty. $67 for the 2 boards (10″ x 8′) didn’t seem bad to me. I think I can build the small Stickley bookcase with a little section of the most knotty/gnarled wood to spare for boxes or bowls.

The weirdness of maple, at least in my experience, is that it just loves to keep moving when it’s cut or surfaced. Currently these are just under an inch thick, even though I only need 3/4. I figure I’ll let it think things over for a while before I continue working on this project.

I seem to be working my way through the 70s with my bookstand quest. I’ve built a #72, and a #74, and now I’m tackling the #79.