This handy kitchen bookstand holds even the largest cookbook conveniently to hand and open at the right place, yet it folds flat so you can store it out of the way when you’ve finished creating your culinary masterpiece.
I needed to edge-join two oak boards to get the desired width for the front panel. Cut the boards to length and square up the edges with a bench plane. You need to check carefully that the edges are square; otherwise your board may not end up flat. I then cut two biscuit slots in each mating edge, photo 1, to help keep the boards aligned during the gluing up, photo 2.
Preparing the frame
Dimension the timber and then mark up the mortise and tenon joints. The two legs are tenoned into the upper crosspiece, and the lower crosspiece is tenoned into the inside faces of the legs. It’s best to mark up the upper leg tenons as a pair. Scribe the shoulder positions across the face of both legs together, photo 3, and then square them round each piece separately. I used a sharp marking knife to give a clean shoulder line. The mortise positions should be marked with a pencil, photo 4, because a knife cut would show on the finished piece and they don’t need the same sharp shoulder definition as the tenons.
Cutting the mortises
There are several ways to cut the mortises, but I used a Forstner bit and my drill stand. Set up the fence position so that the point of the bit is directly over the centre line of the component, then tighten up the fence to lock it firmly in place.
Define the length of the mortise by drilling to the required depth against each end line, photo 5. You can then drill out the waste in between to give an almost perfect mortise slot. This gives you a mortise with rounded ends, which needs squaring up on with a sharp chisel, photo 6.
Cutting the tenons
I cut the tenons on my bandsaw. This is only one of the several options for making tenons, but it works well for me; it’s quick and accurate, and requires minimum setting out. First, define the shoulders by cutting back towards the scribed lines with a chisel, and remove the waste. This gives a clean guide channel for sawing down to the face of the tenon. Then cut the shoulders with a fine backsaw, photo 7.
Before you take your carefully-prepared components to the bandsaw, adjust the saw fence to give the right thickness of tenon. You need some scrap to set this up, but it has to be exactly the same thickness as the stock you’re using. Cut down one side, flip the stock over with the other face against the fence and cut again. Remove the two cheeks and test the tenon thickness against the mortises you cut earlier. Adjust the fence position until the tenon is just the right width for a sliding fit in the mortise. With the saw fence set accurately, you can cut the tenons very quickly, photo 8.
You might need to clean up the corners where the tenon meets the shoulder. The final step is to cut the tenons to width. Use the mortise as a guide and mark the cutting lines with a pencil, photo 9. Cut them with a fine backsaw, photo 10.
Assembling the frame
The upper crosspiece is slightly wider than the leg spacing, so I put a small radius on the lower corners as a design feature. You need nothing more sophisticated than a 5p coin to act as a template. I rounded the rail to the marked profile using a rotary disc sander, photo 11.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got a sanding machine; you can get the same effect with a chisel and some abrasive paper, but the machine does it very quickly. You can then glue and cramp up the frame, photo 12. Check the diagonals to make sure that it comes together squarely.
Finishing the back panel
With the frame made, you can resume work on the front panel. Trim it to length and width and clean up the edges with a plane and abrasive paper, photo 13. Sand the faces with a belt sander to remove any machining marks and glue squeezed out during cramping.
I wanted a round profile on the top of the front panel, and on the top rail of the stand. This could have been done neatly using the router, but for the small amount of moulding needed, it was quicker to simply plane it to
shape, photo 14.
Assembling the stand
The two parts of the stand are hinged, which allows for easy storage when it’s not in use. The barrel of the hinge is flush with the upper edges of the leg frame and panel.
Mark the hinge positions on the leg frame first, using a marking knife for a precise recess, photo 15, then mark the depth of the hinge recess with a marking or cutting gauge. You can use router jigs for cutting hinge recesses, but for a small job like this, the old-fashioned way works just fine. Chop a series of cuts across the recess with a chisel and mallet, then remove the waste, photo 16.
Repeat as needed until you get to the right depth. Clean up the bottom of the recess so that the hinge sits firmly. When you’ve screwed the hinge in place, transfer the hinge positions from the stand to the front for an accurate match, photo 17. Repeat the same process to cut the recesses in the front panel.
Fitting the shelf
The small shelf that supports the books is set into a 12mm channel, routed across the front of the panel to hold the shelf neatly, photo 18. I used screws from the back, with glue, to lock it firmly in place. I made the shelf very slightly wider than the front panel, and once the glue was dry I trimmed it back flush on the disc sander for a neat finish, photo 19. You could use a finely-set block plane and abrasive paper instead.
Angling the base
The frame opens up at an angle of approximately 60°. I angled the base of the front panel and the feet so they will sit flush on the worktop when the stand is opened up. You could use geometry to calculate the precise angles needed, but it’s quicker to use a sliding bevel to gauge the angle, photo 20. Then use the bevel setting to transfer the angle to the components. I planed the required angle across the bottom edge of the front panel, photo 21, and used a backsaw to trim the legs, photo 22.
Adding the page holders
I used a different timber for the page holders. This gave a bit of a contrast with the oak, but it might have been better if I’d selected a darker wood. The page holders are screwed in position, using brass screws in neatly cut countersinks. They can be rotated out of the way when not needed.
You can finish the bookstand in any number of different ways. I made up my own wiping oil finish from equal portions of boiled linseed oil, polyurethane varnish and white spirit, which gave excellent results after several applications.