Instructables

Sliding Dovetail Bookends

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Picture of Sliding Dovetail Bookends
Bookends are great. You can put them somewhere and then books can fit in between them. The bookends stay put and thus, due to the laws of physics, the books stay put and don't fall over. Bookends are the type of thing that people see and go "Oooo, bookends, how swanky!" Well, imagine that the bookends were adjustable on the fly and always in line with each other! Also imagine that the bookends were attached to a base that had some fancy joinery in it. Now that's the type of thing that would make a person go "Sliding dovetail bookends? Who won the freakin' lottery?!" (Also, imagine you won the lottery).

This instructable will help you, the curious (and might I say attractive) reader, create a pleasing and accurate set of sliding bookends. Please note that I'm not a woodworker by trade. The instructions here are based solely on research I have done and the steps I took to construct this piece.
 
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Step 1: Stuff you need

Picture of Stuff you need
To make these bookends, you'll need a few things. You're going to need some wood. I used some scrap pieces of red oak I had. I would recommend a nice hardwood, such as oak or maple. Walnut might be nice too, as would iroko. Pine may frustrate you. Plywood just won't work. You can probably use MDF or other synthetic material, but you'll not want to use the tools I use here. Power tools work better for synthetic materials.

Speaking of tools, you're going to need some of those. You'll need:
- Safety glasses
- Combination square or marking gauge
- Sharp wood chisels
- Backsaw, such as a dovetail saw, gent's saw, dozuki, or ryoba (not pictured for some reason)
- Wooden or plastic hammer
- Pencil
- Table saw (optional)
- Dovetail angle guide (optional)

I made the dovetail angle guide by taking a nice straight board and ripping it with my table saw after setting the blade to about 12 degrees. That's pi/15 radians, in case your table saw is marked in radians. What kind of wacky markings are on your table saw, anyhow??
patcheye10 months ago
I don't think you need an instructable book on humor. I think you should write one.
feltonite3 years ago
Regarding step 3, just a little suggestion, if you're up to some math. Set your combo square to something slightly longer than this:

(Base width - guide thickness)/2
MDF-on-MDF is bad for sliding, unless you want it to stick. Anyway, for better or worse there's lots of friction.
Excellent, point, forced_to_make_an_account. I can see how that would be true. So, note to other folks, MDF might not be a great idea for this particular project. Use wood. It's like nature's MDF. Except, you know, not like MDF at all. That was funnier when I started typing it. Sorry you're still reading this comment.
edsternet5 years ago
Thanks RB for a most instructive project, and also was thoroughly entertained by the sharply honed wit throughout. I like you already. Will definitely give this one a try. Thanks again Ed
mylady_t5 years ago
Thank you! Just this last week I asked Hubby to build me sliding bookends as my jewelry making books come sliding over completely ignoring the current unattached bookend, knocking over jars of beads on their way down, narrowly missing my embroidery machine in their wake...>sigh< Lo and Behold your instructable and my handy husband WILL have a discussion this weekend. :D
Nice job. The only thing I would have done differently is Step 4. Use the table saw to cut the angles of the dovetail groove. This takes a bit longer to set up but gives a more accurate cut. Since the groove is in the center of the board, once the depth and width settings are correct you can cut both sides in 2 passes, then clean out the rest as you describe. You could do the whole thing with a router but, that's not as much fun. Great job.
RonsBrain (author)  technofossil5 years ago
I actually tried that the first time around and wasn't happy with the results. It was rather tricky to work with the kerf left in the base, as the blade didn't leave a nice angle in it. I'm getting tired of screwing around with my router, actually. I'm using it less and less any more. There are some things that I use it for, such as shaping a piece from a template or giving a nice decorative edge to a table, but all in all I've been using hand tools more, and am finding that it's saving me some time. That's just me though.
I learned with the saw and find it just as easy as the router .....very VERY nice work ....the saw works but you need the right blade and that may run more $$$ then you want to pay ....I find the outside blade for a very old sears dado set the best for this cut when I use the saw
Nice! Here's a suggestion - get two old hardback books and hollow them out - use the bookend vertical pieces to go up into the books and you can hide the entire sliding mechanism. (Or use some other items for the 2 ends.)
RonsBrain (author)  jktechwriter5 years ago
That is an awesome idea. If I make another one I will try that.
PKM5 years ago
"Using a measuring tape is exactly what they'll be expecting you to do."

Why do I find this so funny? Well, actually the whole Instructable is funny. And detailed and informative.

Great first 'Ible, fully deserved featuring (and I always wondered how you cut out dovetail grooves like that).
RonsBrain (author)  PKM5 years ago
Thanks for the great comments! If it's not fun to read, then nobody will read it, no matter how useful the information is.
shooby5 years ago
This is great. I had a similar idea to yours, only the whole contraption was upside down, such that the 'base' of yours would be the bookshelf above, and the ends were less massive.
Very well written and I love the amount of detail. Also, good unrelated spaghetti tip. ;)