Legend has it that Thomas Jefferson designed this bookstand in 1810 and had one built out of Walnut. Thomas Jefferson was a lifelong reader and learner who by 1814 had accumulated over 6000 books. Included in his library was a woodworking book by André Roubo entitled L'Art du Menuisier (The Art of the Carpenter). In that book is a description of a folding two-sided music stand with a ratcheting mechanism to allow for angle adjustment. It is believed that Roubo’s book inspired Thomas Jefferson’s design. While Thomas Jefferson was himself a woodworker with a small workshop located on the second floor of his home in Monticello, in all likelihood, he had some other skilled craftsman build his bookstand
after the British burned the Library of Congress in 1814,
Thomas Jefferson sold his entire collection of books to the
Library of Congress to help them rebuild the library’s
more importantly, Jefferson used the money he received from
this sale to rid himself of debt! So Thomas
Jefferson’s personal library has, in effect, seeded today’s
massive Library of Congress.
You can still find Jefferson’s copy of L’Art du Menuisier
at the Jefferson reading room at the Library of Congress.
Dr. William A. Lewis (Left) being presented the
Jeffersonian book stand by maker Larry Ciesla.
Reverand Lewis is the Senior Pastor at the Community Presybeterian
Church in Celebration Florida.
||An example of the bookstand as it may
actually be used. The bookstand supports up to five
books on a rotating base allowing the user to easily move
from one open book to another.
|This picture is taken from the Smithsonian
Web Site showing the original Jeffersonian bookstand on
||My replica is the same dimensions, made
from Walnut as the original, but with a marquetry image on
the top stand.
|Here you can see how the top bookstand
is held in position. When the top is closed the
support fits into the groove allowing the top to close
|I used a
wooden hinge to connect the support arm holding each
bookstand to the ratchet mechanism.
support arm fits into one of these openings on the
supporting columns that hold the bookstand together.
see how the supporting columns fit into the top and bottom
of the bookstand unit shown on the right.
series of pictures show how I fashioned the wooden
stock is milled to 1/4 inch thick and a marking guage is
used to mark a line 1/4" around the perimeter of one end,
then the gauge is set to 1/8" to find the center point
where I will drill a 3/64 hold to later accept a brass rod
of that diameter.
|A box jointing jig is used to cut away
material to create a standard box joint.
|Here you see the mating pieces forming
what would normally be a box joint, but I'm going to craft
a wooden hinge instead.
|I've used my drill press to precisely
drill a 3/64" hole all the way thru. Later, after
I've relieved the wood necessary to allow this to operate
as a hinge, I'll insert a 3/64" brass rod into the hole
thus making the hinge. Not also that I've made an
extra just in case. (I should have made two or three
extra because the next couple of steps were very
|A dovetail saw is used to cut at a 45
degree angle between each finger of the box joint.
Then a 1/4" chisel is used to carefully remove the
material. See how the lines I made earlier with the
marking gauge come in very handy for this step.
|Here is the result ready to have the
brass rod installed completing the hinge.