Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Roubo" Folding Bookstand

  I started this project awhile ago, but didn't get around to finishing it until just recently. It's a bookstand based on a famous design (only among woodworkers I suppose) by the great 18th century French cabinetmaker, Andre Roubo. The bookstand is made entirely of one piece of wood and traditionally is built using entirely hand tools, as they work best for this project. I found this project in a magazine and simply had to try my hand at making it. I had recently purchased a Japanese Ryoba saw and thought that would work best for this project. Perhaps a Japanese saw really shouldn't be used on a French project, but hey, Roubo...Ryoba, their pretty close. Ha! Just as a heads up, this project was made entirely with hand tools and the chisels I used were very dull at the time, so that accounts for many (not all) of my mistakes and the fact that this was initially an experimental project. Well, enough with my jabber, I show you some pics and explain as I go.

First I cut the board to length
Next I divided the board into five equal parts for the hinge by placing a yardstick across the board at a number divisible by 5. Then I marked every two inches and transferred that point down to the part where the hinge would be.
Then I layed out the decorative profile.
The cross section/guidelines for the hinge
Five equal sections for the hinge based on the points layed out earlier
Cut out the profile with coping saw
Coming along pretty good!
Some touch up on the edges
Chiseling out the waste parts for the hinge. I chiseled down at a 45 degree angle until I was exactly halfway through the wood.
Both sides of the hinge chiseled out!
Cutting line through the center of the board.
Sawing the board in half.
I saw down to the hinge point but no further.
And do the same for the bottom half.
Due to the fact that my chisels were poorly sharpened, the hinge didn't come out as clean as I had hoped and so began the many, many hours of sanding and fine tuning the hinge until finally the stand opened up to a complete 90 degrees.
The finished stand
The stand halfway open.
The finished stand completely open.
It works beautifully!
The finished stand turned out very well, considering the tools I used weren't in great condition, and my mom loved it! I plan on making another one now that I my tools are properly sharpened and considering all that I learned while making this one, I'm sure it will turn out even better. Thanks alot for reading and stay tuned for more projects soon!


  1. This looks really nice Craftsman:) Great job!

  2. oh my gosh!!!!! you finished it!!! I'm in love !!! you're making your beloved sister one too, right??? I think its the most ingenious thing ever

  3. Oh wow!! Dude! You weren't kidding! That thing really does look really cool!

  4. This is Thim: GREAT JOB!!
    It is sooo cool that you tried to do it authentic (i'm in to sewing and things dun that way always turn out so much cooler.)
    The saw is great! (Any thing Japanese, I end up thinking is REALLY cool...we have some history with that in our family.)


    Dated 1360AD

    Some more old examples of the book stand.

    I think it was sloppy of Underhill to attribute it to Roubo(though he did say it was not invented by him). Writing about it in a book should not be a reason that an object is attributed to a person.

    This is a common article which most Muslims will receive at least once in his lifetime as a gift. From South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, most of Africa, and many countries in Far East are familiar with this kind of book stand. It can be safely said that 2 billion plus people will know it as a Qur'an/religious book stand.

    These are still made by hand mostly. Available even in US every major city has an Islamic books store which will have one. Else you can find online in US based Islamic book stores or even on ebay and Amazon.

  6. @Kittu: Wow really informative! Thanks for enlightening me on the real history behind the stand. It's always nice to learn something new. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. I saw this on Underhill’s show probably 15-20 years ago and always thought it was amazing but could not for the life of me remember what it was called to find it again. Thank you for sharing! Do you have a set of plans with measurements for this stand?