How to Make Your Own Wooden Bookends

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A single piece of reclaimed wood, such as a beam, can become rustic modern geometric bookends. Reclaimed wood can be found at local salvage yards, building supply stores and even in ads for sale by owner. Its weathered texture and imperfections add rustic character to the completed bookends.

Warning: For safety reasons, do not use reclaimed timbers or railroad ties that may have been treated with chemicals. Similarly, wood with paint that predates 1980 should be tested for lead paint before use.

Make these rustic modern bookends.
(Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)

Things You'll Need

  • Reclaimed wood piece, such as a beam
  • Adjustable work bench or vice/clamps
  • Safety glasses
  • Circular saw
  • Sandpaper, 80-grit
  • Palm sander (optional)
  • Wood sealer, finishing oil, paint or wood stain
  • Paintbrush
Step 1

Clean the reclaimed wood of debris, remove any jutting splinters or exposed nails, and then clamp it into an adjustable workbench. Use a vice or clamps to sturdy the wood if you do not have an adjustable workbench.

Tip: Use a workbench that doubles as a vice.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
Step 2

Cut a piece of wood from the original beam using a circular saw. The project pictured was made with two wood blocks, each measuring 8 by 4 by 3 inches. A circular saw or table saw can be used to make the initial cuts.

Cut the starting blocks.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
Step 3

Use the first cut piece of wood as a template to measure and cut an equal-sized second block.

Use the first cut as a template.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
Step 4

Sand both wood blocks using 80-grit sandpaper to smooth any rough edges. A palm sander makes sanding a quicker process and achieves an overall even finish.

Sanding removes dirt while smoothing the surface.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
Step 5

Adjust the circular saw to a 45-degree cutting angle; this creates the faceted sides of the geometric bookends.

Adjust the circular saw to make angled cuts.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
Step 6

Secure one of the wood blocks to the workbench. Choose a spot on the block edge about halfway down, and make a 45-degree cut straight through to the top of the wood block, removing a corner. The result will look like a triangle.

Cut off the block corner to make faceted sides.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
Step 7

Repeat the same cut, working your way around the wood block to make faceted sides by removing the corners. To create the irregular, natural facet shapes in the completed piece, leave at least one corner in its original form, and choose different points along the wood block’s edge before making each angled cut.

Make cuts at different starting points for an irregular, natural shape.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
Step 8

Repeat this cutting process with the remaining block of wood, and then sand both blocks to smooth any rough edges.

A palm sander works well to smooth out edges.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
Step 9

In a well-ventilated area, brush a clear coat of wood sealer to cover each wood block. This provides a protective coating and keeps the natural-looking finish. For a different look, finish them with your choice of wood stain, paint or finishing oil.

Alternatives to wood sealer are wood stain, paint and oil.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
Step 10

Allow the finish to completely dry, as per the finish product's directions, in a well-ventilated area before bringing the bookends into your space.

The bookends are ready for use.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
Step 11

Use the bookends alongside your favorite books or mix them into your decor for a rustic feel.

Style with books or use as decor.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra
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