Wooden Book Thing




A great gift for the bookworm in your life these book things are neat little doodads for anyone who likes to read physical books.

Some wood, some oil and some tooling and you can be done in no time.

*not so useful for e-books, not there's anything wrong with e-books.

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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Wood: about 1/2" thick seems to be the right thickness. I used plywood scrap but solid hardwood would give you a really nice finished product.

Drill or Drill Press

Forstner bits. A type of drill bit. You might be able to make do with standard twist bits but the forstner bits allow you to easily and safely drill overlapping holes which is nice for making an oval thumb hole.

Band saw

Sand paper of various grits

Dremel with sanding bits: (optional but SO useful. a bench sander would be helpful for the outside curve but the inside curves would be problematic.)

Some paper and pencil.

Olive or mineral oil.

Step 2: Design

Figure out what you want. I did my best to sketch out a design that was symmetrical. In the end I figured it was just as effective, and easier to just fold over a paper and free hand it.  Kind of like cutting out paper hearts when you were in elementary school.

The hardest part or this step is cutting out the thumb hole. it's fairly small. take this time to get it roughly the right size for your thumb by unfolding, trying it on, and then cut out a little more until it's big enough.  You cant make the hole smaller butg you can drill a smaller hole in the wood later so don't stress. Just get it close.

Step 3: Trace

Put the paper guide you cut out in the last step on your wood and trace it.

Step 4: Drill Baby Drill

Its easier to drill any holes before you cut it out. The wood is less likely to split and you have more to clamp down.

Clamp down the wood and get drilling. I started with one side of the oval hole and then did the other. If you want a bigger hole you can use a larger bit and do the middle first, then do the sides with the same or a smaller bit. Whatever your strategy I highly recommend the Forstner bits they have no problem overlapping holes even if all you have is a hand drill. You shouldn't even try overlapping with a twist bit if you don't have a drill press and even then it'd be difficult.

Once you have the hole drilled try it out on your thumb. If you want it bigger go ahead and do that now. In this case it had the fit I wanted but I discovered later that it's more comfortable if your knuckle fits through the hole.

Step 5: Cut It Out

Use the band saw to cut it out. Try and get close but it's better to leave a little outside the line than to cut into it. You are going to sand it down so you can take off whatever's left at that point,

Step 6: Sanding

Using the Dremel or rough sandpaper and elbow-grease take down any excess wood left after cutting.

Once that's done you should round the edges, both on the outside edges and especially around the thumb hole. It looks better, is more comfortable, and prevents splinters.

Next you want to sand down the whole thing really well with successively finer grits until it's nice and smooth. The finer you go the smoother it is. I went down to 220 grit which is plenty smooth in my opinion.

Step 7: Rub It Down

Using a cloth or paper towels thoroughly oil it down. Oiling 'hydrates' the wood keeping it from splitting and makes it a little smoother. It also darkens the wood and brings out the grain.

I used olive oil. It works great but imparts a slightly yellow tint you wouldn't get otherwise. Mineral oil is what most people use and since it's colorless you won't get any tinting you didn't expect.

Once it has bee thoroughly oiled you want to buff it down with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel. This takes off any excess oil.

I would then wait overnight or a day for everything to soak in and repeat the oiling process.

Make sure you wait a bit and get any excess oil off before you stick it in a book. No one wants grease marks on their pages.

Step 8: Final Thoughts.

This isn't a difficult project so try one and if you want to change the design it's easy to make another one.

Some things I learned:

I found it more comfortable to have hole large enough to get my knuckle through, just make sure itsa lso big enough to get your knuckle out of again. (A lesson I thankfully did not have to learn the hard way.)

Olive oil does the job nicely but subsequent ones I used mineral oil so they wouldn't turn out yellow.

Plywood is fine and I kind of like the look of the edge once it's finished but the thin layers of ply can chip at the corners ruining those nicely sanded edges. So I would use solid wood. you can get hardwood in half inch thick "craft boards" at the hardware store. And that seems to be the perfect thickness. just be careful that most lumber marked half-inch is actually less than that.

Makes an excellent gift.

Try drilling an extra hole close to one end and threading a string or ribbon through it to use as a bookmark. Double the uses!

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18 Discussions


4 years ago

I like this idea,I wanna make this to my sun☺

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago

If your son reads a lot of books I am sure he would love if you made one for him. Go for it!


5 years ago

Love this idea. Wish I had even the basic tools to make this. I'll have to put them on the wish list.

4 replies

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

I just made one using:

  • a random log found on the street
  • a hand saw (about 7$)
  • a 3cm straight chisel (about 8$)
  • a 0.6cm straight chisel (used on a power chisel, but it could be done by hand) (300$ for power tool or 8$ for the chisel)
  • sanding paper (I guess about a dollar's worth will be more than plenty)
  • mineral oil (orange scented for guitar necks that was laying around)

It will take you a lot longer than it took this brilliant block with his tools, but it works and it was pretty cost effective (took me about 3 hours with a ton of trail and error, net time probobly about an hour). wouldn't use olive oil though, as I heard it eventually gets rancid. Buying something to hold the wood in place while working will greaty reduce effort, but it's optional.

Good luck!


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

That's awesome. I had ideas about doing it without power tools and was going to reply with them but it's much better coming from someone who has actually done it. Do you have any pictures?


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Took me a while, but here it is:

(Haven't been posting here before, so I don't know how to integrate the photos within the message, they'll have to be together at the end)

-So I started with a slice of wood, cut right from a branch.

-Marked the shape based on a previous attempt

-Chiseled it to the rough shape, and then started sanding with 100 paper

-Cut the finger hole. I must confess that although it is possible to do with a chisel, it is A LOT of annoying work cutting a deep and narrow hole, so I drilled with an electric screwdriver to create the initial hole.

-I sanded it up to 800 paper, using teak oil as a lubricant at the end to get a nice finish

-I've attached photos of all 4 attempts (in order). first one was just the rough shape, the second and third I sanded a little and used fret-board oil on. On the last one a payed more attention, rounded the edges and got to a much smoother surface, also the teak oil gives a lighter color.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Sweet! My band saw is currently out of commission so if I make another I may have to emulate the chisel approach when cutting out the main shape. Forgive me if I continue to use the drill press for the hole.


5 years ago on Introduction

Did you really make that up yourself, I'm surprised no one has thought of it before. I always hate holding new paper back books open, the pages always flip around, that might be why I hate reading.

2 replies

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Oh no. There is some company mass producing plastic rings with this very purpose in bright colors. Additionally if you search, like, "book thumb ring" on etsy you will find a few people selling them made of wood. And they were doing so before I made this instructable.

But I made my own and thought to share the process.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Well yes, probably about less than 5% of Instructables are made up with your "very own" idea. Thank you for sharing it. Very easy to make too, I will make it when I find the time because of all the other very important things I do.


5 years ago on Introduction

haha easy and clever idea! I think we've all been there too. Books are a nuisance to read sometimes, especially the small ones.


Reply 5 years ago

Thank you. It is inspired by the copyrighted name of a (I believe) patented tool that does something very VERY similar (but is remarkably less pretty to look at being made garishly brightly colored plastic.


5 years ago

nice and simple


5 years ago

What an awesome idea! So simple and effective...


5 years ago

This is cool, it keeps your book open. :)