How to Make Your Own Wooden Bookends

A single piece of reclaimed wood, such as a beam, can become rustic modern geometric bookends.
Make these rustic modern bookends.Make these rustic modern 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.

Step 1

Tip: Use a workbench that doubles as a vice.

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.

Step 2

Cut the starting blocks.

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.

Step 3

Use the first cut as a template.

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

Step 4

Sanding removes dirt while smoothing the surface.

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.

Step 5

Adjust the circular saw to make angled cuts.

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

Step 6

Cut off the block corner to make faceted sides.

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.

Step 7

Make cuts at different starting points for an irregular, natural shape.

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.

Step 8

A palm sander works well to smooth out edges.

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

Step 9

Alternatives to wood sealer are wood stain, paint and oil.

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.

Step 10

The bookends are ready for use.

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.

Step 11

Style with books or use as decor.

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

Things You Will 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

About the Author

Mary and Tim Vidra, the creative couple behind the lifestyle blog 17Apart.com, live and work in Richmond, Virginia. Both do-it-yourselfers by nature, they are continually in search of simple solutions for living more sustainably — sharing their ideas, tips and tricks for DIY home decor, urban gardening and cooking.