Building ‘The Other Roubo Bookstand’


A week or two ago, I put up a short post and video about “The Other Roubo Bookstand,” a project taken from the plate 331 of André Jacob Roubo’s “l’Art du Menuisier,” scaled to hold the beautiful deluxe edition of the Roubo text on furniture. As promised, I’ve drawn up plans for the bookstand – it makes for a quick and satisfying build with some fun joinery.

A few notes on how I went about building mine (and how you might want to, as well).

  • I started by making the two square frames, which were made with bridle joints, and then used loose tenons for the other frame components. A Domino works well, but so would live tenons.
  • All of the material for the bookstand is 1/2″ thick, and all of the frame members, except for the kickstand and chiseled stop block, are 1-3/8″ wide. Starting with 5/4 stock, this would let you do some nice resawing and grain wrapping, and you can make one long piece and just crosscut the parts out of it.
  • The bridle joints are my addition – Roubo detailed using mitered joints, but I avoid miters wherever possible. Use whatever joinery you think is best suited to yours!
  • I didn’t get too specific about the hinge sizes or placement – use what you have. I used some nicer brass butt hinges that were left over from prior projects, but anything relatively substantial will do.

Here are the plans – you can download them as a full-scale PDF, or look at them below in image form. Make sure if you do build the bookstand to share a photo. I’m always excited to put plans out there and see who takes them up!

Happy working!

— Brendan Gaffney




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17 Responses to Building ‘The Other Roubo Bookstand’

  1. says:

    Sir, I am not second guessing you but would 3 hinges be better foe holding the weight of the Roubo tome, or is most of the weight on the wooden angle? thanks Ralph

    • brendangaffney says:

      Another hinge may keep the part from bowing, but it’s certainly sturdy enough with these two hinges – the two hinges and the kickstand form three points of support that are very sturdy, and as you point out, most of the weight is supported by the kickstand. Imagine how many heavy doors are suspended from such hinges. The hinges I used are relatively large butt hinges (2 1/2″ wide each) – if you were to use smaller hinges, I suppose three hinges would be advisable, or a piano hinge would really nail it down.

      Also, just saying, buying three hinges may result in buying two pairs and having a singleton hanging around. No one likes a single hinge hanging about!

      • says:

        Yes sir 2 is the number, the piano hinge, i Think, is to unauthentic

        thanks Ralph

  2. says:

    Also 1 more hinge would (?) keep the part from bowing ??

  3. Roland Stewart Chapman says:

    Sir , I can’t make head nor tail of this drawing , perhaps it’s because I’m looking for a conventional book case and my battered and abused mind is refusing to unboggle . Maybe an isometric sketch would help .

    • brendangaffney says:

      I’ve linked to a video we filmed last week in the first sentence of this post, I think that will clear things up for you.

      • Roland Stewart Chapman says:

        Thank you Brendan , one of the downsides of old age and a general lack of comprehension , I was looking for a bookcase rather than a book stand . Lovely piece of timber

  4. John says:

    I have a nice piece of 8/4 cherry. I’m thinking mitered bridal joints with through tenons for the cross braces.
    Oh and some ebony draw bores. Overkill?

  5. Bruce Lee says:

    The end elevation drawing (plate 3) seems to have left out the 2 book supports that show on the plan of the face panel (plate 1).

  6. Daniel Williamson says:

    Thanks for the plans! I am looking forward to building this once my commissions are done.

    How did you do the steps? Layout is key, and you mentioned it was chisel work in the video, but wondered what helped you get the slopes consistent? What immediately popped in my mind was to set a bevel gauge at the desired slope on the bench next to the workpiece, then set a mirror up on the bench to reflect that the chisel corresponds with the gauge. Or am I needlessly complicating it? Suppose I’ll just figure it out as I go, but I enjoy having a game plan if possible before I start.

    • brendangaffney says:

      I started at the deep end, chopped downwards, and then moved backwards, gradually deepening and elongating the trough. Because all of the troughs are the same depth (1/4″) and length (2″) the slope should be the same, but mostly shoot for deep enough and flat enough. None of my troughs are perfectly dead flat – once I chopped down to 1/4″, I faired that depth into a slope than met up at the baseline behind it. I’d say don’t sweat it, and do a few practice troughs first in the same material. I would say bringing a mirror and bevel gauge will be more time and worry than necessary.

  7. Gene ORourke says:

    Not related to the Roubo bookstand… but check out this article in the New York Times from last week. The focus is on whether the Romans were whalers, but the interesting this for this audience is a rib fragment from a right whale, which looks like a Roman must have fashioned it into a plane.

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