book shelf from a small 1931 hobby lathe

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Project by mtalley posted 10-17-2014 02:50 PM 3524 views 5 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We sort of have a Wood-Craft/Bohemian/Bookworm thing going for our home decor – see in background of pics above. I recently made a bookshelf from a small 1931 cast-iron hobby lathe and a hunk of reclaimed barn/house beam from here in Toulouse. I cleaned both the beam section and lathe up a little, chamfered the top of the piece, mortised in a couple of oak runners to serve as feet and the keep the ends of the beam from splitting. added some stain to the wood, some light sanding, and three coats of water-based satin poly to finish it up.

The lathe was then bolted on using some vintage flat-head screws that I pulled out of another section the same beam and I added one of my bowls to give the books a proper purchase on the drive side. The tool rest is turned and mounted on the other side to keep the books upright.

Pictured here on a drop-leaf table just to show. It is now sitting against the wall on top of a sugar-chest and under a painting by the front door. My wife loves it, which matters if one wants a happy life.

10 comments so far

View Lucasd2002's profile


125 posts in 2591 days

#1 posted 10-17-2014 03:17 PM

The piece in the background of the first picture is very “Dewey-decimal system.” I like it.

View shipwright's profile


8751 posts in 4036 days

#2 posted 10-17-2014 03:41 PM

I like your decor, especially the ladder …... great idea.
Maybe you could do a little marquetry with that fine looking press ….....

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Matt Stauffer's profile

Matt Stauffer

110 posts in 4003 days

#3 posted 10-17-2014 03:46 PM

Very creative. Is that a book press on top of your card catalog?

-- Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. ~ John 5:24

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4833 days

#4 posted 10-17-2014 06:47 PM

Mann thats cool, love the decor also

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View mtalley's profile


112 posts in 2714 days

#5 posted 10-17-2014 07:06 PM

Lucasd2002 – My kids have no idea what it is. I told my 14 year old that it was “What Google used to look like…”

Matt Stauffer – thank you and yep, it is a 1920’s brass and iron tucking press. I use it for making journals as gifts and personal book repair/binding

shipwright- Thank you. It is an old fruit pickers ladder that I refinished and hung. I thought about putting it on here, but haven’t yet. I have a larger press at home in the US (covered and mothballed in the garage) that I got I got for $200 at a Univ. WA auction. It has an 19” opening and a 2’X2’ press face. I have used it to press segments for bowls as I SUCK at marquetry.

mcoyfrog – Thank you. My wife let me go and only said no to the anvil for a sofa table.

View SavedIndustries's profile


1 post in 2555 days

#6 posted 10-17-2014 09:53 PM

That is one beautiful bookshelf! I love old industrial tools used as home decor. I’m not as lucky as you though, my wife doesn’t allow it in the house (yet). Guess I just need to find the right piece to get the ball rolling. What a great idea you had using a lathe as “book ends”.

View Vince's profile


1292 posts in 4667 days

#7 posted 10-18-2014 09:01 AM

Too cool

-- Vince

View Ivan's profile


17000 posts in 4106 days

#8 posted 10-20-2014 01:38 PM

Totaly cool idea! Looks great too!

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View mcoyfrog's profile


4757 posts in 4833 days

#9 posted 10-20-2014 06:49 PM

ha ha I think I would love the look of the anvil but i’m sure my foot would find it every single time LOL

Very wise wife

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View misterChips's profile


95 posts in 2526 days

#10 posted 10-13-2015 08:36 PM

Wow, I have the same old lathe in my workshop, pick it up for $30.00 cdn – I fell in love with it clean it up and was going to hang in on the wall in the work shop, but after seeing what you have done with yours I’m going to move it into the house.

Wow , je dois la même vieille tour dans mon atelier , le ramasser pour 30,00 $ cdn – je suis tombé en amour avec elle nettoyer et allais à accrocher dans le mur dans la boutique de travail , mais après avoir vu ce que vous avez fait avec vôtre je vais le déplacer dans la maison . Vous faites très beau travail , keep it up . Désolé pour mon Français Canadiennes.

-- Don't only practice your art, but force your way in to its secrets... Ludwig Von Beethoven.

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